This year marks the 25th anniversary of Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER brand — an imprint that has long fused the line between runway and streetwear long before there was even a market for it. Notoriously press shy, the designer opens up on his brand and its driving ethos — fully encapsulated in its motto “We Make Noise, Not Clothes.” Imaginative, different and slightly sinister, the designer’s reach has permeated through the ranks of being both luxury and street.
Indeed, Takahashi’s label — which turns 25 this year and is celebrating the milestone with a major retrospective at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, a monograph published by Rizzoli and a men’s collection that riffs on the Undercover archives — is equally famous for its graphic t-shirts, favoured by teenagers, as its conceptual runway pieces. The designer insists that, no matter the complexity or price of a garment, he imbues everything he produces with an equal degree of creativity, which appears to flow directly from his mind’s seemingly unbounded capacity for conjuring up a unique universe of intricate and slightly warped fantasies.
There was a period in Takahashi’s work where he continually made monstrous-looking ‘Gila’ dolls (named after a species of venomous lizard) out of teddy bears, and a teddy bear with blocked-out eyes has become the brand’s unofficial mascot. “In my work I want to express not something merely pretty or cute, but to find something behind it,” explains Takahashi. “I think it’s very human. I take that cute teddy bear and I give it a bit of a shock — that bit of violence. The combination is something that gives it real beauty. I am not denying beauty, but presenting it in a different light.”
Click here to read more about the designer and brand at Business of Fashion.
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