Keizo Shimizu is the owner and director of umbrella company Nepenthes and clothing brand Needles. Shimizu launched Nepenthes in 1988 in Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan as a fashion distribution firm, and in 1989 it soon expanded into retail operations, opening offices in Boston in 1989 and New York in 1996 as a result of Shimizu’s frustrations with what was available in the market. Eventually, Nepenthes grew to house a handful of clothing brands Engineered Garments, Needles, South2 West8 and Sonic Labs. In his designs, Shimizu draws upon references from his own travel and life experiences, as well as from historical magazines. His clothing is characterized for its distinct American Western, workwear and bohemian influences.