Decoding UNDERCOVER: Exploring Jun Takahashi's Pivotal Moments and Works

From his fruitful collaborations to his groundbreaking fashion shows.

By
Fashion 
7,814 Hypes 0 Comments

There will always be poetry in the punk-influenced designs of Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER label. The famed founder was after all, the lead singer for the cover band Tokyo Sex Pistols. And just like the music genre UNDERCOVER is often alluded to, which extends to other sub-categories like “afro-punk,” “skate punk,” or even “ska punk,” the brand prides itself in taking on ever-evolving art forms in each of its collections. On inspiration vs originality, the designer once said, “What is in my head? I don’t know. Every season, I promise myself that I will not repeat myself. This is my driving force. I have to create something new. It is getting difficult every season though, but so far I am able to live up to my promise.”

It’s within that promise that UNDERCOVER will always be seen as one of fashion’s most groundbreaking design houses. Progress is paramount and the label gets courageously creative every year, while still passionately keeping in focus its rebelliously street and punk-centric narrative. We see this in Jun Takahashi’s other ambitious projects as well, such as NOWHERE (his retail shop with NIGO), his diffusion lines and fruitful collaborations with BAPE, Uniqlo, Nike, and Supreme to name a few. He’s even created sculptures, homeware products, toys and films that fully exhibit the house’s powerfully imaginative vision. Naturally, in everything Jun Takahashi does, the avant-garde element will always be at play no matter what.

Undercover Jun Takahashi Supreme Uniqlo Projects Collaborations

UNDERCOVER just celebrated its 25th anniversary last year — its longevity is evidenced by the dedicated fans who’ve always had an unyielding trust for Mr. Takahashi’s direction. Here, we explore some of the works and concepts that has pushed the Japanese brand to the forefront of fashion and beyond, from its early Ura-Harajuku days to its ever-expanding global presence in high-end, fast retail and street culture. “We Make Noise, Not Clothes” is more than just one of the label’s popular slogans, it’s a testament to the creative force Jun Takahashi has become over the years.

Last Orgy Series and NOWHERE

Undercover Jun Takahashi Supreme Uniqlo Projects Collaborations

The late ’80s and early ’90s played a crucial part to the formation of UNDERCOVER. Around 1988, street culture legend Hiroshi Fujiwara started a column in Takarajima magazine called “Last Orgy,” which explored hip-hop, punk, DJing and skate culture. It became a late night television show and would lay the inspirational groundwork for contemporary Japanese fashion brands. After Fujiwara, friends NIGO and Jun Takahashi continued the column in the form of “Last Orgy 2.” Consequently, the duo also used the platform as a springboard for their first collaborative retail shop, NOWHERE.

NOWHERE opened its doors in 1993 and was considered the quintessential store in Harajuku for the best streetwear brands. It started carrying mostly UNDERCOVER products and NIGO’s outsourced American and vintage items that also included hard-to-find sneakers. The establishment would evolve and every weekend, massive lines would form outside the shop by customers wanting to get their hands on pieces from brands like NIGO’s A BATHING APE, TET’s and Skatething’s 40% AGAINST RIGHTS and Fujiwara and Takahashi’s ANARCHY FOREVER FOREVER ANARCHY.

Early Graphics and Artworks on T-Shirts

Graphic T-Shirts laid the foundation for the brand and it’s been ever-present throughout each collection. From its tees adorned with the famous “U” insignia to the music-themed artworks and artist collaborations alongside names like Kaws and Futura, UNDERCOVER has made it known that it will always be an influential part of streetwear culture. The brand even held an exhibition and released a book on its graphic artworks throughout the years.

Significant Runway Collections

In 1994, Takahashi staged his first women’s runway show in Japan. It was a big hit and one of fashion’s most notable figures, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons took notice right away. The two eventually solidified a friendship and their relationship would be key to UNDERCOVER’s inevitable global expansion.

Inspired, mentored and encouraged by Kawakubo, Jun Takahashi went on to debut at Paris Fashion Week in October of 2002 with his womens 2003 spring/summer collection entitled, “SCAB.” The range showcased the designer’s ability to create art out of clothing, exhibiting an array of beautiful and complicated construction techniques. It was the first time UNDERCOVER was presented at such a colossal global stage and it solidified Jun Takahashi as a designer the fashion world should keep their eyes on.

At PITTI UOMO 76, UNDERCOVER held its first men’s only runway show. The 2010 spring/summer collection, inspired by German industrial designer Dieter Rams, made its way to the catwalk that included spaced-aged inspired themes. There were sleek tailored pieces alongside functional garments. The technically-sound construction heightened the clean and uncomplicated look of the designs.

Collaborations and Partnerships

UNDERCOVER is widely known for its collaborative projects — other brands are always keen on working with Jun Takahashi because of his avant garde vision. Some earlier and on-going collaborations have fluorished with NIGO’s BAPE and Hiroshi Fujiwara for the duo’s ANARCHY FOREVER FOREVER ANARCHY brand. Iconic streetwear imprint Supreme has also tapped UNDERCOVER and there’s also the house’s releases with artists such as Kaws and Futura. Toys designed with the Medicom brand have also gotten a lot of attention. The list is long, but perhaps the most important partnerships have come alongside big name retailers like Uniqlo for a family-centric apparel collection and Nike for the running sport-focused Gyakusou line.

Standout Projects

Whether included in each collection or just an extension of his creativity, Jun Takahashi has always worked on some highly captivating projects. His hand-made “Grace” dolls that were a part of the 2009 spring/summer collection are a fine example. According to the designer, he made the dolls to show a fantasy world where these fluffy creatures who wear his designs must be kept from humans. It’s a comment on “interpersonal relationships” and “distance.”

Another visually-appealing project Jun Takahashi has done is with the UNDERMAN series. According to the founder, UNDERMAN, which was included in the 2011 spring/summer range was an “homage” to the low-tech, television heroes of the 70s. He adds that UNDERMAN is not just about good vs evil, but “good and evil eventually becoming one in the end.

Supreme and UNDERCOVER are once again collaborating on a collection for the Fall/Winter 2016 season. For full imagery and information on the items and their release date, click here.

Read Full Article

Join Our Discussions on Discord

The HYPEBEAST Discord Server is a community where conversations on cultural topics can be taken further.

100 Users Online

What to Read Next

Nike Brings Unusual Color-Blocking to This Air Max 90 Premium SE
Footwear

Nike Brings Unusual Color-Blocking to This Air Max 90 Premium SE

The Swoosh adds a special coating to the heel and toe of the classic runner.

China Just Unveiled a Sleek DSLR-Rivaling Camera That's Incredibly Low in Cost
Tech

China Just Unveiled a Sleek DSLR-Rivaling Camera That's Incredibly Low in Cost

Xiaoyi’s mirrorless M1 comes packed with features but won’t break the bank.

A First Look at Capcom's CG 'Resident Evil' Film, 'Vendetta'
Gaming

A First Look at Capcom's CG 'Resident Evil' Film, 'Vendetta'

Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy return.


Hasselblad Introduces Its Modular 75-Megapixel V1D Concept & Matching X1D
Tech

Hasselblad Introduces Its Modular 75-Megapixel V1D Concept & Matching X1D

Hasselblad introduces an all-black X1D to go along with its new V-inspired concept.

Take a Look at the First Gameplay Launch Trailer for 'Gears of War 4'
Gaming

Take a Look at the First Gameplay Launch Trailer for 'Gears of War 4'

A slew of fresh enemies and vehicles.

Lupe Fiasco Looks Back on His Critically Acclaimed Debut Album 'Food & Liquor' 10 Years Later
Music

Lupe Fiasco Looks Back on His Critically Acclaimed Debut Album 'Food & Liquor' 10 Years Later

A must listen for any fan.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Help us serve you better

We appreciate your support in allowing HYPEBEAST ads, where we can share contents from the latest fashion, to those culturally relevant. In adding HYPEBEAST to your ad blocker's whitelist, ads on our sites will show while you continue to browse.

Help Support Us

We need ads to keep the lights on and to continue providing free news to our readers. We’d appreciate your support by whitelisting HYPEBEAST on your ad blocker. That way you can keep reading all the great stories for free.

If you have already whitelisted us, simply refresh this page. To find out how to whitelist us, click the button below.

Back

Add Us to Whitelist

We appreciate your support in allowing HYPEBEAST ads. Most ad blockers have similar whitelisting steps and settings. If you need assistance, please contact us.

Adblock Plus

  1. Click on the red ABP icon in the upper right corner of your browser.
  2. Click “Enabled on this site” to disable ad blocking for the current site. In Firefox click “disable on HYPEBEAST”.
  3. Refresh the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.

Adblock

  1. Click the AdBlock hand icon.
  2. Click “Don’t run on pages on this domain”.
  3. A new “Don’t run AdBlock on…” dialog may be displayed in the middle of the screen.
  4. Move the “Site” slider to the right. After that, click “Exclude”.
  5. Refresh the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.

uBlock

  1. Click the uBlock icon.
  2. Click the large blue “power” button in the menu that appears to whitelist the current website.
  3. Reload the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.

Firefox Browser

Firefox Tracking Protection may activate our whitelist notice, which can be disabled temporarily for a browsing session by clicking the shield icon in the URL bar and following the instructions.

Disconnect

  1. Click the Disconnect icon.
  2. Click “Whitelist site”.
  3. Refresh the HYPEBEAST page that you were viewing.