Hiroshi Fujiwara: The founder of the Japanese streetwear Harajuku

April 08, 2021 8 min read

Hiroshi Fujiwara: The founder of the Japanese streetwear Harajuku

If we were to imagine the godfather of Japanese streetwear, what would it be like? Would it be an iconic artistic figure, a legendary designer or a humble and kind-hearted enthusiast? In reality, Hiroshi Fujiwara, one of the pioneers of Asian urban fashion, embodies all three characters.

Despite his intergalactic success, this veteran continues to produce new ideas as impressive as any other. He has managed to merge two worlds by combining Western and Japanese references in his style. As a result, Hiroshi has earned respect in both of the world's major streetwear scenes.

His long journey stretches from the depths of Harajuku to the biggest fashion shows of the moment. But who is the enigmatic Hiroshi Fujiwara? When was his genius born? Without further ado, we retrace the biography of this great modern day streetwear designer.

A most exciting career

Hiroshi Fujiwara

Like most popular streetwear designers, Hiroshi Fujiwara entered the scene during the 90s. Between the nascent trend and underground activity, it was only much later that he got the recognition he really deserved.

A hopeful beginning

Steeped in the urban movement from his fingertips to the tip of his nose, Hiroshi Fujiwara was nevertheless born in a very small town. He was born in Ise, on the island of Honshū, where he spent most of his childhood skateboarding.

With his head in the clouds, he dreams of the day when he can squat on the main streets of Tokyo. He has a special affinity for artistic expression that guides him to make his dream come true at the age of 18.

Let's jump forward a few years, we are in 1982 and Fujiwara finally leaves his native land. Friends welcomed him in London, a new world where he could finally live his passions. The culture shock is not long in coming. He is in his twenties and Hitomi Okawa, his friend invested in design, introduces him to a group that will change his vision of art.

It is the Culture Club Group. It was with director John Maybury, singer Boy George, and designers Stephen Jones and David Holah that he discovered the art world. Under the same roof, sharing and exchange are at their peak

Hiroshi Fujiwara young


A few months later, he embarks on a great adventure. He moved to New York, the epicenter of hip-hop culture. He crossed paths with an emblematic figure who shared the same vision as him, Shawn Stüssy, the famous creator of the Stüssy brand. For both of them, it's obvious: fashion is more than just clothes. It is a way of life, a mentality.


And that mentality is hip-hop. The feeling that freedom is worth more than all the gold in the world, combined with a pure urban spirit.

This is how Hiroshi Fujiwara became the brand's ambassador in Japan, which quickly took over the Japanese streets. According to him, this event marked the advent of the International Stüssy Tribe.

C’est ainsi que Hiroshi Fujiwara devient l’ambassadeur de la marque au Japon qui a vite fait d’envahir les rues nippon. Selon lui, cet événement a marqué l’avènement de l’International Stüssy Tribe.

hiroshi and stussy

He discovered a new fashion: streetwear. It is the spark that triggers a cataclysm in the fashion world and that will make this young Japanese vagabond spirit finally find his vocation.

Back to Japan for a new start

Rich of his new experiences, Hiroshi Fujiwara returns to Tokyo as a new man.

He took his first steps in the fashion industry during the 90s. Shortly after his return from the States, Hiroshi Fujiwara took his courage in both hands and launched his own streetwear brand GOODENOUGH in 1990. He performs in the tight quarters of Harajuku, little frequented corners where stores are just beginning to be known.

You could say that this is where Japanese streetwear and the Ura-Harajuku phenomenon was born. He was one of the first curious people to fully explore this imported genre and the mysterious world behind it. A native of Tokyo, he has brought out the best of his native culture in his creations. He tries to bring together Western and Asian styles, to combine the best of both worlds in his streetwear collections.

Hiroshi Fujiwara

This first Asian streetwear brand is strongly inspired by the style of Stüssy and the London-based brand Anarchic Adjustment. In an interview, he said that he was better versed in fashion and music, unlike the founders of these two brands.

This is part of how he was able to develop his art faster, and better adapt to the new waves of the world. The rest proves that he didn't overestimate his abilities at all !

 

Hiroshima, the rising star of Japanese streetwear

The young Fujiwara is full of energy, and is constantly working on new projects. In just a few years, he has become one of the top urban fashion designers in Japan.

hiroshi fujiwara

In 1993, a small store he called NOWHERE was opened in Harajuku. It was there that the brands UNDERCOVER and BAPE exhibited their first creations, with the support of Hiroshi Fujiwara. The two designers behind these brands are none other than Jun Takahashi and the nickname NIGO. These two prominent figures have strongly contributed to the development of the Japanese streetwear school.

For the first time, local novelties are side by side with American urban fashion gems like Adidas and Nike. The small district of Ura-Harajuku gained a lot of popularity thanks to these small brands.

In 1994, a new brand is born, it is AFFA, or Anarchy Forever, Forever Anarchy. It is the result of a collaboration between Fujiwara and his right hand man Takahashi. Their inspiration comes mainly from the punk culture of the 1970s. Despite a discreet reception from the public, the high fashion scene acclaims the quality and innovation of this collaboration

Takahashi and hiroshi

Afterwards, he turned to a new field, design. He became the founder of Fragment design, a consulting firm that collaborates on the design of fashion brands. He took his old ideas in a new form. His agency works with major brands such as Converse, Moncler, Starbucks, but also Louis Vuitton and mastermind JAPAN.

 

An accomplished multi-talented artist

Hiroshi Fujiwara hates to limit his artistic activities. Since the very beginning, he has juggled several fields at once.

Having learned the ropes of hip-hop, he decided to get into the swing of things himself. He created the hip-hop music group Tiny Panx, one of the first in Japan in the 90s. The success is immediately monumental. He specialized in remixes, a category that was little known at the time.

hiroshi and his band Tiny Panx

In the meantime, he became a columnist for Popeye Magazine, his first editorial job as an artist. He then moved on to promoting online resources on honeyee.com. This Japanese website was the reference for design and fashion lovers who wanted to be aware of the latest trends.

In 2003, he dives into the world of cinema. He made his first appearance on the famous movie Lost in Translation.

Lost in Translation and hiroshi


As a musician, he has collaborated with several artists including Janis Ian, Kahimi Karie and Eric Clapton. He even designed a custom guitar signed Martin Guitars for the latter. He offered it to him during one of his visits to Japan.

Although very discreet, he made a public appearance in 2008 at the Imprint Culture Lab's Cult of Collaboration panel. This event was one of the largest to be held at the time.

The monographs Fragment and Fragment 2 were released successively in 2014 and then in 2020 by Rizzolio. These books describe modern fashion influences, particularly those of streetwear. Fujiwara recalls his very first collaborations. Hiroshi recently returned to editorial work with the digital streetwear magazine Ring of Colour.

He also runs a new concept store, The Parking, which is unsurprisingly located in an old abandoned parking lot. This is the successor to the former themed store The Pool, a closed pool in Ginza

The best Hiroshi Fujiwara projects - Recap of the greatest collaborations

Currently, Hiroshi Fujiwara is considered one of the most influential Asian designers in streetwear. He is the guru of Nigo, Takahashi and many other figures of the Japanese urban fashion scene..

Nigo and hiroshi


Despite the passage of time, he does not slow down. The legendary designer is always busy, working on many things at once. Nike, CONVERSE, Beats BY Dre: he's got his hands in just about everything.

It's safe to say he's been responsible for some of the biggest pieces of the last 30 years. His collaborations and artistic touches have taken him very high up in the couture hierarchy.

Here's a look at some of the latest projects he's been involved with.

 

1. GOODENOUGH, a project engraved in the memory

GOODENOUGH and hiroshi fujiwara


The very first brand launched by Fujiwara is unmistakable. What was a simple t-shirt printing store has become a real art movement. It competes with its Western analogues and continues to overshadow them in Japan.

The theme of the shop revolves around Japanese and American pop culture. Self expression is at the center of their policy.

Little by little, the brand has joined the class of the big ones. The quality of the products and their conscientious production made them a real asset. They prepared limited editions that sold like hotcakes!

Since the 90s, the team has grown. The brand has known several successful moves, namely
:

  • RESONATE GOODENOUGH which was launched in 2004 by Hiroshi Fujiwara ;
  • GOODENOUGH IVY which is more recent, only since 2013, and which embodies the west coast spirit ;
  • And the latest addition, the UNDEFEATED capsule that took the summer of 2021 by storm.

2. The prodigy continues to strike: Air Jordan 1 x Travis Scott x Fujiwara

Air Jordan 1 x Travis Scott x Fujiwara

Sneakers collaborations, there are thousands, but some have more sentimental value than others. This is the case of the Air Jordan 1 x Travis Scott x Fujiwara. Metallic blue, white and salmon; this great tricolor classic is a streetwear must-have.

Simple, but effective, it looks like a timeless model.

Hiroshi Fujiwara teased them on his Instagram page, and we unanimously approve! They're due out early next year. Is this the only Fragment x Nike collaboration that awaits us? Only the future will tell us 

 

3. MSI x Hiroshi Fujiwara : Creator Z16


Computer hardware lovers, rejoice! New sleek designs will be applied to the latest model from MSI. This computer giant has entrusted the design of its hardware to Fragment, and we love the result.

The famous brand name is applied on a deep black metallic background. A worked set that could only be the result of this magnificent Asian collaboration.

This high-end set is available for a small fortune. It goes without saying when you are faced with such masterpieces

 

4. The NFT frenzy invades the streetwear


These days, it seems like everyone is going NFT! After the biggest artists and celebrities, it's Hiroshi Fujiwara's turn to go digital, and not just any digital.

The NFT or non-fungible tokens are booming. They are even more valuable because they are difficult to obtain.

As a designer, Fujiwara has released a collection consisting of 25 pieces of digital art. This project is a collaboration between the Rhizomatiks collective and the Fragment firm, it is FRMTRZM NFT.

It consists of phenomenal animations accompanied by T-shirts in the same theme entirely exclusive. The auction is done online with a base price of 0.1 ETH.

In short, Hiroshi Fujiwara is an independent designer and consultant, singer, DJ, actor, columnist, writer, magazine editor, owner of several Japanese streetwear brands and concept stores.

What a heavy load for one of the pioneers in urban fashion, knowing that his career extends from the early 80s to nowadays. He has a multitude of projects and collaborations with luxury brands to his credit.

In short, he is a great character to whom we owe the fundamentals of Asian fashion as we know it today !


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in StreetWear & StreetCulture

Urban Techwear : What is it and how to adopt this style?
Urban Techwear : What is it and how to adopt this style?

October 07, 2021 11 min read

Anime & Streetwear : When two cult phenomena meet
Anime & Streetwear : When two cult phenomena meet

June 25, 2021 8 min read

Streetwear Style : How to master it? Complete guide (+10 tips)
Streetwear Style : How to master it? Complete guide (+10 tips)

May 23, 2021 18 min read