Jun Takahashi is a pioneering Japanese fashion designer and the founder of UNDERCOVER. Born in the city of Kiryu in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, Takahashi studied fashion design at the prestigious Bunka Academy of Fashion in Tokyo. While there, Takahashi met NIGO with whom he would found the UNDERCOVER label, with Takahashi continuing to develop the label after graduating in 1991.
With the opening of the influential NOWHERE boutique with NIGO in Harajuku in 1993, UNDERCOVER was placed at the epicenter of the Ura-Harajuku movement, thus establishing Takahashi as one of the most prominent designers in the Japanese fashion scene. In 1994, Takahashi also began a brand called A.F.F.A. with Hiroshi Fujiwara although releases were intermittent, eventually being shelved completely. Heavily influenced by punk music, particularly by The Sex Pistols (he played in a cover band during university called The Tokyo Sex Pistols, and he is nicknamed “Johnio” for his resemblance to frontman Johnny Rotten), Takahashi’s initial collections consisted of ripped up, deconstructed, shredded and patched leather jackets and T-shirts, with his style being described as conceptual and challenging.
Other references range from flower bouquets, A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick, taxidermy and manga. Debuting at Tokyo and Paris Fashion Weeks in 1994 and 2002 respectively, Takahashi won critical acclaim from the likes of Miuccia Prada, Rei Kawakubo and Suzy Menkes, as well as two prestigious prizes awarded by the major Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
Although Takahashi describes his own aesthetic as “strange, but beautiful,” his designs have also proved commercially successful, netting him coveted relationships with the likes of Uniqlo via the UU label, with Nike under the Gyakusou performance running collection, a limited edition digital camera with Canon, and a stall at Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market. Takahashi is married and has one son, and creates his designs from his studio in Tokyo called Undercoverlab.