There hasn’t been one decisive moment in Hiroshi Fujiwara’s career that led him to become such a prominent figure in streetwear nowadays and for the past 30 years. And still, we can talk about his life by describing the different eras that have defined it, thanks to his numerous trips around the world. When he turned eighteen, in the eighties, Fujiwara moved from rural Ise (Japan) to Tokyo. That is where he discovered the musical scene of the city and he became interested in punk, which eventually brought him to London. Shortly after, on a trip to New York, he became a fan of hip hop. The aforementioned genre ended up changing his life.
HIROSHI FUJIWARA, DECIPHERING THE GODFATHER OF STREETWEAR
They call him the godfather of streetwear, even though most likely only industry insiders know exactly who he is. It’s hard to talk about all of his career feats in a detailed way, but his figure can be generally explained by calling him the human internet. Hiroshi Fujiwara’s brain works as a web that has countless branches that connect fashion, music and culture, as well as the subcultures that form these. And it’s through these connections that Hiroshi Fujiwara creates trends and even movements, at the beginning of his career in his native Japan, and over the years around the whole world.
That is when he started taking trips to the birthplace of hip hop, bringing back to Japan records from pioneers like Afrika Islam or Kool Lady Blue. That is how he learned how to turntables and he became the DJ who introduced hip hop to the Japanese capital, popularising the genre even more with his group Tiny Panx. This interest towards everything related to hip hop grew so much in Tokyo overtime, that a subculture interested in all things Americana was born. From vintage and street clothing, in contrast to fashionistas who would follow Parisian runways of brands like Comme des Garçons or Yohji Yamamoto, to skate culture. And it was in the neighbourhood of Harajuku, specifically in the alleyways, what is called Urahara, where this movement could be witnessed.
In 1993, Fujiwara helped Jun Takahashi and Tomoaki Nagao to create NOWHERE, a store that sold American products and memorabilia. Dissatisfied by the low demand they had, they started selling products under the names of UNDERCOVER and A Bathing Ape, respectively. And so his participation in the creation of both –now iconic– brands, that turned Takahashi and Nagao, aka Nigo, into two of the most important figures in streetwear, was definitely key.
And this is how Fujiwara built a career for himself, through different collaborations, providing his infinite knowledge and experience to brands like Levi’s, Burton or Nike. With the latter one, he takes part in the HTM team with acclaimed sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, where they do drops whenever they feel like it, irrespective of seasons. But not only that, through his own brand Goodenough and his project called Fragment (a cultural archive as well as an agency, consultant and clothing line) he has practically worked for all of the biggest names in streetwear. He has also collaborated with people from the luxury world, like Dior Men’s Kim Jones, who he’ll release a second project with. It’s just impossible to mention all of the projects Fujiwara has been involved in, from Ring of Colour magazine to The Parking concept store. Sometimes it’s not easy, but be sure to not lose track of him.