Jun Takahashi is the founder and head designer of cult Japanese label ‘Undercover’. Born in Kiryu, Gunma prefecture, Japan in September 1969, Takahashi studied Fashion Design at the Bunka Academy of Fashion. During his study period, he founded the ‘Undercover’ brand with his friend and classmate, Nigo (who now heads the inconic Japanese streetwear label ‘A Bathing Ape’). Following his graduation in 1991, Takahashi continued to develop his Undercover label.
The brand really began in 1993 when Takahashi and Nigo opened a store called Nowhere in the trendy Tokyo district of Harajuku. Undercover really began to take off after the opening of Nowhere; therefore Takahashi and Nigo opened another shop in Aoyama (fashion district in Tokyo). Soon enough, Takahashi was seeing his designs on the catwalk in Tokyo. A new shop called “Nowhere LTD” was opened after this and featured only clothing from the Nowhere brand. Takahashi began working with fellow designer Hiroshi Fujihara in 1994 to create another brand called A.F.F.A., which stands for “Anarchy Forever Forever Anarchy”. They worked on this intermittently for about three years, taking breaks here and there, though the project eventually failed.
Undercover A/W 2000
In 2002, Takahashi’s brand debuted at Paris Fashion week with great success. Soon after in 2003, he won two major awards for his designs from the Mainichi Shimbun (one of the major newspapers in Japan). Today, the brand has a large cult following, making the brand both sought-after and expensive. One of the most important thing to note about Takahashi’s style is the incredible influence the Sex Pistols have on him. Even though it is not punk fashion per se, there are various punk influences throughout his designs, as well as references to other bits of American popular culture, such as Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The cuts are often more feminine and the fabrics make use of color printing. He also makes liberal use of tattered, frayed, and shabby-chic elements in his designs.
This brand’s punk and street-style look have propelled Takahashi in the fashion world and he continues to see success with his Undercover brand today. In 2005 he was invited to design a special edition camera case for Canon, as well as being given the opportunity to guest edit the Belgian A Magazine. His brand is also featured at Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street store in London. These successes, and possibly more to come, show just how powerful a designer Takahashi is and his Undercover brand’s avid fans would whole-heartedly agree.
The brand has been called “the essence of Japanese cool” and features finely crafted clothing pieces which are, in the words of Takahashi himself, “strange, but beautiful”. Undercover has won numerous awards and been praized by other fashion designers including Miuccia Prada and Rei Kawakubo.
“Political and poetic, Jun Takahashi has been announced as one of the most brilliant and unpredictable fashion designers of a new generation. He describes his work as an appeal for thinking about the fact that things look different depending on the way we look at them.
Jun Takahashi turned his models into fairytale queens, albeit wicked ones. If they looked angelic in their crowns made out of braided hair and rhinestones, their blood-red contact lenses and red mascara ensured an eerie quality “like vampires. I wanted to show how cold-blooded the girls could be,” he explains.
Next week: Jun Takahashi (part two)
info from: www.virtualjapan.com/wiki/Undercover