NIGO, founder of A BATHING APE® and director of HUMAN MADE, is an influential trendsetter, except in street culture In addition to having a place, he was selected by the LVMH Group in 2021 and became KENZO’s new artistic director, officially stepping into luxury fashion.
Founded by Kenzo Takada (Takada Kenzo) in 1970, KENZO initially sold custom-made women’s clothing, then launched men’s clothing, children’s clothing, home accessories, etc., and successfully developed into an internationally renowned brand. With NIGO taking office, after releasing the 2022 Autumn/Winter Collection and 2023 Spring/Summer Collection, the brand with a history of more than 50 years ushered in an unprecedented transformation. The sharpness of trends, from streetwear to traditional Japanese aesthetics, Combining elements such as KENZO’s classic archives, it reinvents the brand’s image with a sense of heritage.
Today, Hypebeast is taking the lead in reviewing the brand’s future blueprint through an exclusive conversation with NIGO to explore in depth their memories of KENZO, their pioneering thinking, and the philosophy behind the design.
Hypebeast: Kenzo Takada, founder of KENZO, as the first Japanese designer to rise to prominence in the Parisian fashion industry Division, what influence did his work have on you? Do you remember your first impression of KENZO?
NIGO: In the 1980s, the DC Brand Boom (DC Brand Boom) situation occurred in Japan, and many internationally influential designers and brands appeared, which not only drove fashion to take off, but also made me first interested in this industry.&
KENZO is also in this wave, and it’s even the most widely known brand among them, so I paid a lot of attention to it. Although I was just a kid at the time and couldn’t afford these things, I often visited stores to observe clothes.
Hypebeast: Why is it important for you to expand on a new series from your past archives?
NIGO: First, I did this to get to know KENZO better, and secondly, KENZO is KENZO. I was given the mission to “design KENZO clothing,” not my own creations; I used flower patterns a lot because they are a language that fully interprets KENZO style, and also allows Kenzo Takada’s soul to live on forever.
Hypebeast: When it comes to deconstructing and reconstructing the iconic visual image that Kenzo Takada has built for the brand, what angle do you cut into reflecting the KENZO spirit and “real-to-wear” philosophy (infiltrating fashion design into real life)?
NIGO: “What initially sparked your interest in fashion?” Trying to answer this question is the core concept of this series, and “real-to-wear” represents the true meaning of fashion, and for me, it is only when these clothes actually appear on the streets of the city that it is most exciting.
Hypebeast: How would you describe today’s relationship between streetwear and high-end fashion? You once said that streetwear is a “rebellion against luxury fashion,” but now that you have taken over as director of KENZO, does that still apply?
NIGO: These two things will eventually meet at the right time. The era of resistance to luxury fashion is over, and now it’s about how to coexist.
Hypebeast: The late designer Virgil Abloh was Louis Vuitton’s creative director of menswear. During his tenure, he worked with many artists to bring boutiques to a higher level by blending boutiques with other mediums. Given your friendship and the fact that you are also the owner of a luxury brand, what are your thoughts on collaborating? Is there a chance for KENZO to launch a joint project in the future?
NIGO: Virgil’s way of working seems to be the norm today.
At one level, my relationship with KENZO itself is a kind of collaboration. As of now, I don’t think I need to join a third party. For me, this is the way to move toward the next stage of fashion.
Hypebeast: A year has passed, and you seem to have just warmed up and are ready to make a big difference. Can you tell our readers about your next work?
NIGO: The new show will debut in January — everything will be revealed then, so stay tuned!
23846900cookie-checkHypebeast’s exclusive interview with KENZO’s current art director, NIGO