He is arguably the greatest guitarist of our generation — do not let his pop music fool you. Already a subject of intense debate with each ensuing album release, it is becoming increasingly apparent that John Mayer is slowly but surely carving out a body of work destined to put him amongst the Mount Rushmore of guitarists. The seven-time GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter effortlessly maneuvers between blues, folk and old-school rock ‘n’ roll, with his signature melodic licks and riffs, and trancelike facial expressions.For over a decade, music aficionados have recognized John for his electrifying belters such as “Gravity,” “Neon” or “Covered in Rain.” However, it is his standout wardrobe that has caught the meticulous eye of fashion heads around the world. Within the industry, it is widely known that visvim — the holy grail of our fashion culture — is the cornerstone of John’s collection. Akin to A$AP Rocky being synonymous with brands like Rick Owens, Raf Simons and GUESS; Pharrell with adidas, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, and Kanye with A.P.C., Maison Margiela and Yeezy, John’s extensive visvim collection has propelled him to comparable status as a style icon, albeit with one glaring difference. Unlike these fashionable musicians who have endorsement deals or vested interests, John’s passion for the Japanese cult label unfolded in way that many folks reading this magazine can relate to, a compulsion to learn about handcrafted products that many people can only afford to read about on the Internet, without endorsements or vested interests. “It couldn’t have been more organic,” says the 38-year-old collector-turned-brand ambassador. “I won’t get high and mighty about how long it’s been, because the fact of the matter is that everyone who wants to be into it should be into it. Someone turned me onto it, and I turned someone else onto it.”
In fact, it was fellow guitarist, soloist and three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eric Clapton who initially pointed John towards visvim by introducing him to legendary designer Hiroshi Fujiwara. The Godfather of Harajuku who is also a musician in his own right, took the time to show John around Tokyo, introducing him to key influencers within the tight-knit Japanese streetwear community. “I remember meeting Kazuki Kuraishi (formerly of A BATHING APE, fragment design and adidas, and founder of THE FOURNESS), who walked me into F.I.L. and introduced the brand to me. That was 2005, and that started me on the path I’ve been on for over a decade now.”
“One year I just gave myself permission that if this is what I really love dealing in and thinking about, then I’ll go hard twice a year on visvim seasons…”
Since then, John has not looked back, and understandably so. His love for visvim’s intricate, vintage aesthetic, combined with his “collector’s gene,” has seen him forge a lasting friendship with the brand’s founder, a denim-whisperer and collector of worldly artifacts, Hiroki Nakamura. John’s storage space in California, which he also refers to as his “personal streetwear museum,” houses many of his priceless possessions from years past. This includes his well-documented collection of rare vintage watches and modern timepieces from esteemed brands such as Audemars Piguet, IWC, Rolex and Patek Philippe. Moreover, the space that was originally reserved for instruments and music gear, also boasts an assortment of visvim pieces from every collection ever posted on our online blog — just take a second to imagine that. “One year I just gave myself permission that if this is what I really love dealing in and thinking about, then I’ll go hard twice a year on visvim seasons, and really just keep alive the idea of being someone ten years from now who can understand and represent the history of the brand.”
This inclination to collect is very much part of John’s identity. When asked about his “collector’s gene,” he confides, “I’ve got it bad! I collect a lot of different things that I can see and feel value in. And you don’t always have to have these things in your hands to enjoy them. You just know you have them in the stash, and for some people like myself there’s a mental geometry that’s very satisfying” — reminiscent of the “one to rock, one to stock” concept that many sneakerheads are familiar with.
Much like his music, John’s style has undergone a transformation over the years. Prior to being a household name, John’s interests were firmly entrenched in the street culture, just like many kids growing up during the ‘90s. When his music career first began to gain traction, he took full advantage of his celebrity status by collaborating with brands like ALIFE, Reigning Champ and KAWS to name but a few. This was of course before he traded everything in for head-to-toe visvim ensembles. Nevertheless, John will forever have a soft spot for streetwear and still keeps select sneakers as a tangible reminder of his formative years. “I still really respect the ‘sneakerhead’ culture, and I still appreciate what I see. I think we’re in a new generation of that culture, and it’s important to hand youth culture off to the actual youth and let it be their thing,” says the wiser, more seasoned John. “I still have what I consider the timeless stuff to be. A KAWS collab Nike Air Force 1 is like a Nirvana demo cassette. It’s a huge part of an artist’s history, and that’s valuable for life.”
HYPEBEAST Magazine’s “The Artisanal Issue” focuses on the concept of quality and all that it encompasses. Behind all well-made products are passionate individuals, devoted to their craft and determined to improve and progress. For our fourteenth issue we speak to a handpicked group of individuals we believe to be dedicated to their trade and the product they release to the world. We kick things off with John Mayer as the face of this issue. Unbeknownst to some, John is a collector of “artisanal” products including vintage guitars, luxury watches and of course, visvim clothing. Following this thread of craftsmanship, we feature renowned tattoo artist, Dr. Woo and famous celebrity photographer Terry Richardson both of whom have perfected their trade through time. Within the pages of this issue, we also feature two Japanese fashion figures known for their commitment to quality, Eiichiro Homma of nanamica and The North Face Purple Label and Ryo Kashiwazaki, founder of Hender Scheme. The issue also includes our visits to LQQK Studio in Brooklyn and Eames Chair manufacturer, Herman Miller in Michigan, to see the firsthand the workmanship that goes into creating hand-crafted product. We top off the issue with a number of other compelling stories of individuals and products that together fully portray the concept of “artisanal.”