“Archival fashion” is thriving in the fashion industry today. What is causing this emerging fascination for archival fashion? Together with Motofumi “POGGY” Kogi, we will dive deep in to understand the reasons behind it, while taking a closer look at notable brands. The first brand we will uncover is the legendary NUMBER (N)INE, a brand that was born in the 90’s, made its Paris Collection debut in the 00’s, and wowed the world. We asked POGGY how “Urahara” styles pioneered by NUMBER (N)INE and their archives have been making their return in fashion today.
--- First, tell us about where this archive trend originates from.
It probably came from vintage hip hop fashion. It’s not rare anymore to see secondhand stores sell something like TOMMY HILFIGER from the 90’s, but this wasn’t true in Japan until 5 or 6 years ago. The first time I saw these kinds of things was when I visited “FRUITION” in Las Vegas. It’s a boutique that was founded by some young folks in their 20’s, but I was shocked to discover that they had brands like JEREMY SCOTT sitting next to secondhand hip hop clothing from the 80’s and 90’s. This was a store that people like Kanye and Pharrell would shop at. In the meantime, in New York, Brian Procell opened “COAT OF ARMS” in the Lower East Side, and sold vintage hip hop clothing. Then “Round Two” opened in Los Angeles, and one of its owners, Sean Wotherspoon, landed a collaboration with NIKE with his own design. As stores jumbled up preowned clothes with designer brand items, there came a new perception and value that secondhand stores didn’t have in the past. While these stores opened one after another, I observed foreign designers and musicians go through those doors, and it made me think to myself, “there’s a new value being created.”
--- If vintage hip hop style was what triggered a breakthrough in archival fashion, how did it expand itself to designer labels?
I would say Kanye West is responsible for it. It’s rumored that YEEZY has its origin from when Kanye went to a vintage store in Osaka to buy loads of RAF SIMONS. This was then followed by street fashion fans starting to discover RAF SIMONS from the 90’s. And I think that this later spread to brands like Maison Margiela and KATHARINE HAMNETT. Another important thing to mention is, since about 2 years ago, foreign creators have been eyeing on Urahara styles by NUMBER (N)INE, UNDERCOVER, and A BATHING APE from the 90’s-00’s era. Today’s top designers like Kim Jones from GIMMIE FIVE and Virgil Abloh were heavily influenced by street fashion during their adolescent years. Looking at Kim Jones’ past reveals his admiration for Hiroshi Fujiwara, and you can tell that he was also very influenced by NIGO when he showed NIGO’s home in one of his YouTube videos. Virgil, Kanye, and Supreme are all doing the same thing, in which they are using 90’s Urahara style as a reference to create styles that match to our current generation.
--- It seems like hip hop artists have played a major role in the archival fashion wave.
Yes. It has to do with how hip hop artists like Kanye and ASAP Bari became keen on archival fashion. Kanye was also the one that was the fastest in bringing attention to Daft Punk and electro sounds like Justice from the mid-2000, gave birth to hip hop that is musically listenable, and fashion transformed itself from the previous oversized trend to perfect fit sizing. Rappers dramatically changed the fashion scene by demonstrating in their work how opposites attract.
--- Why is their focus specifically on the Urahara style from the 90’s to 00’s?
Before hip hop, breakbeat was popularized in Bronx in the 70’s, which later contributed to the rise of rare groove and sampling. Breakbeat started out when youngsters who couldn’t afford to go to the disco would instead play soul and funk records over speakers and turntable sets in parks. DJs noticed that the audience gets more excited during the songs’ breaks, and that they would also start dancing. They utilized just the breaks and made two records with the same sounds, played it on loop, and this eventually became to be known as breakbeat. So DJs around the world are still scavenging for such kind of old and rare “break” records. And recently they are raving about Japanese breaks. This is because back in those days, Japanese musicians had phenomenal performance skills, and invested a lot of money in recording so the sound quality was great. I think that this relates not just to music but also to the quality of archival designer fashion in Japan. Which explains why brands like UNDERCOVER and NUMBER (N)INE are being recognized around the world for their fineness in design and quality, and have been increasing its value.
--- So you have picked for us 4 items by NUMBER (N)INE?
Yes, the first one is a reassembled top featuring iconic characters like Mickey Mouse. It’s an innovative piece that combined cartoon characters and rock music. The patterned pants are from 2004 A/W “GIVE PEACE A CHANCE” collection, and it replicated an actual American army uniform pattern from the 80’s.
NUMBER (N)INE was very popular for their rock music-inspired and flashy pieces, but what I think is most amazing about the brand is how it knows “basic.” Mr. Miyashita, who was the designer at the time (he is currently known for his brand TAKAHIROMIYASHITA TheSoloist.) has a background of working with “NEPENTHES” and “BEAMS,” which explains why he has an exhaustive understanding of basic style design. His designs never grow old because they are all steadfast in groundwork. This Nordic sweater and Norfolk jacket are examples of that. Such kinds of basic pieces will enhance the louder, flashy ones. Right now, the fashion industry has been playing around a lot with cut-and-paste, which I think is one of the reasons why brands that have a mastery in basic style like NUMBER (N)INE is head-turning in archival fashion.
--- Lastly, please tell us about what you think defines archival fashion.
For men, it represents “items that one must get their hands on one day.” You know how men enter their 30’s and 40’s and are still thinking about things they couldn’t afford to get or earn when they were younger? I think that we’re starting to admire brands that were popular in the past and are unfaltering, like Margiela and HERMES, especially now that designers are transitioning so quickly. In any generation, there’s always the desire to get things that are hard to obtain.
Motofumi “POGGY” Kogi
Born in 1976. After starting to work part-time in 1997 at “UNITED ARROWS” and moving on to PR, Kogi opened the boutique “Liquor,woman&tears.” In 2010 he launched “UNITED ARROWS & SONS” where he was also the director. After becoming independent recently, there is growing anticipation for new initiatives from him this year.