Founded in 1991 in Osaka, Japan, Evisu is one of the most recognised and well-respected Japanese brands of today’s age. What initially started as a small line of denim jeans, with only 14 produced a day with hand-painted detailing, the brand became a global household name for its enduring denim, quality and fit, and adoption into various fashion subcultures.
From esteemed denim collectors, to streetwear fanatics looking for the brand’s iconic ‘seagull’ logo on vintage pieces, Evisu’s quiet confidence has meant it has remained respected, but perhaps fallen into slightly forgotten territory in the last few years. Flanked by recent denim revivals such as True Religion, and with the seemingly endless rollout of new collections from luxury brands, it’s high time that Evisu was restored to all its glory. We’re taking a look at the brand in all its intricacies, and playing creative director for the day to suggest how we would revive it – à la Maximilian’s appointment at Ferragamo – the first show of which is set to take place in Milan next month.
I’d revive Evisu by taking the brand back to its roots in Japanese culture. Originally founded in Osaka, Japan by Hidehiko Yamane and named after the God of prosperity “Ebisu”, Evisu is a brand grounded in spirituality and careful hand-craftsmanship. However, nowadays few people know what their iconic logo is meant to represent (a seagull), let alone the meaning or work that’s gone into the brand. This is why I’d utilise a video campaign that follows the delicate process of hand-painting Evisu’s iconic logo onto their jeans, as originally was done in 1990 Osaka. This would help to remind people of the brand’s authenticity. Plus, showing how time-consuming the hand-crafting of Evisu’s jeans is will help highlight the brand’s integrated sustainability. Basically, I’d revive Evisu by reminding people of why they like it in the first place, taking the iconic brand back to basics.
Collaborations are all the hype these days, and in some instances, they can assist smaller brands in increasing their platform – take a look at ERL and Dior, for example. Although EVISU has already collaborated with Palace, Cactus Jack, and Billionaire Boys Club, it would be interesting to see EVISU team up with Nike for a sneaker collab. Given the eclectic sneakers that just came fresh off the Menswear SS23 runway, EVISU could combine secondhand or surplus denim together with their trademark seagull emblem for a pair of sneakers. Possibly even reintroducing a historic Nike model such as the Air Trainer. This not only ensures market attention, but also commemorates cultural history, which is an important aspect of both brands’ identities.
Evisu are Japanese denim legends that have supplied top-tier streetwear for around three decades – it just needs a breath of fresh air to reignite the nostalgia. If I was creative director for the day, I’d certainly orchestrate a relevant celebrity orientated campaign around a new collection, to be released on major platforms. Living in such a media driven society, it’s more important than ever for brands to take advantage of these rapidly growing platforms. In addition, I’d appoint relevant brand ambassadors, having a ‘face’ to the brand is equally as important. Then, frankly, I’d have some fun. Sticking to its roots, the collection would be heavily comprised of elevated denim adorned with the classic ‘seagull motif, but i’d also develop the brand to wedge it further into the streetwear space. It has all the ingredients to make a solid comeback – after all, EVISU means ’God of Prosperity -, and with my help, prosper it shall.
As well as its elevated Japanese denim, I love Evisu’s big old logo – sometimes wrongly referred to as an ‘M’ (and as McDonalds have tried to rip off on their uniform trousers, it seems), but actually meant to represent a seagull. Splashed on the back of oversized jeans, faded or bright, the logo is an instantly recognisable brand motif, and something I would push further if I were to be creative director for the day. This could involve workshops where you painted your own logo on to the back of jeans (Evisu or not), as well as new collections which play with the logo to create monograms, new patterns and new ways of showcasing the seagull – giving it new wings, if you will.
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