asian designers nigo bape

5 ICONIC ASIAN DESIGNERS THAT CHANGED THE GAME IN FASHION FOREVER

5 ICONIC ASIAN DESIGNERS THAT CHANGED THE GAME IN FASHION FOREVER

by Daisy Rose
4 min
asian designers nigo bape

Asian influence is everywhere, running deep in the history of the fashion industry; without the longstanding input from these 5 designers – and many, many more talented people from the Asian community – fashion would have missed out on so many revolutionary design philosophies and ideologies. The fashion industry has failed to recognise marginalised communities for quite some time, meaning that Asian excellence has often been overlooked; from sacai-founder Chitose Abe to Nigo, the man behind BAPE’s iconic Baby Milo mascot, here are five must-know names that helped shape the streetwear world into what it is today.

REI KAWAKUBO

Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo may not make clothes anymore, but there’s no denying she changed the way in which we perceived them. From creating avant-garde designs as expression forms, to fusing high-fashion with urban culture, her Comme des Garçons label founded in 1973 is iconoclastic, to say the very least. She also founded the concept store Dover Street Market later in 2004, with her husband and president of Comme des Garçons, Adrian Joffe. A collaborative space that houses both high and low-end innovative labels like Vetements and Balenciaga, Kawakubo states that in tandem, they create a “beautiful chaos”.

 

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CHITOSE ABE

Another Asian feminist heroine in the fashion sphere that you need to know is Chitose Abe, Creative Director of sacai. Before sacai was founded in 1999, Abe actually worked under Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons as a pattern cutter, prior to launching her own brand. Known for fusing sporty with chic and a deconstructive aesthetic, Abe’s tendencies to double-up materials is nothing short of synergistic. You’ll probably be familiar with her latest collaboration with Nike, transforming iconic silhouettes like the VaporWaffle and Blazer into an innovative, hype-worthy hybrid.

 

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YOON AHN

Korean-American fashion designer Yoon Ahn founded the contemporary brand AMBUSH in 2008 with her husband, alongside her role as Director of Jewellery at Dior Homme. What originally started as an experimental collection of jewellery is now a streetwear powerhouse. As well as a whole host of successful collaborations with brands like BAPE and Off-White, AMBUSH have over the years achieved cult status, worn by the likes of Skepta and Kanye West. More recently, the designer collaborated with the Oregon-based sportswear giant Nike, for the release of the hotly anticipated AMBUSH x Nike Dunk High in Cosmic Fuchsia, and soon launching in Deep Royal Blue.

 

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YOHJI YAMAMOTO

Tokyo-born Yohji Yamamoto actually started out with a law degree, before he discovered his creative flair and decided to help his dressmaker-mother in her shop in Kabukicho. Revolutionising fashion via his two main clothing lines, Yohji Yamamoto and Y’s, you’ll find signature oversized designs, an androgynous approach and a lot of black. Yamamoto also famously collaborated with Adidas to create Y-3, fusing his Japanese style with sportswear to shake up the streetwear game with high-heat clothing and sneakers.

NIGO

The name Nigo, which translates to ‘number two’ in Japanese, stemmed from the friendship between himself and streetwear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara, who he met back in college in Tokyo. The pair founded store ‘Nowhere’ in 1993, but it was the launch of the hip-hop inspired brand A Bathing Ape that truly helped Tomoaki Nagao’s career take off. Initially a small store selling the infamous camouflage hoodies and T-shirts we’re still wearing, today, BAPE is now known worldwide for some of the most legendary designs in streetwear to date. In collaboration with Pharrell Williams, Nigo is also responsible for the label Billionaire Boys Club, further cementing his status as a streetwear icon as well as his latest venture Human Made.

 

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