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Top Japanese Streetwear Brands

Collage of the top Japanese Streetwear Brands

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Step into the world of Japanese streetwear, where tradition meets innovation, and design knows no bounds. As a melting pot of unique aesthetics, the Japanese streetwear scene has much to offer. From pioneering powerhouses to emerging trendsetters, these 10 Japanese streetwear brands are shaping 2023’s fashion landscape, each with its distinct interpretation of style, culture, and self-expression.

Ready to take a journey through the streets of Tokyo and beyond?

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Bape

Bape 2023 Lookbook outfit

Started by Nigo, BAPE began in the ’90s in ura-Harajuku, and is known for their signature camo pattern. Influenced by pop culture and the 1968 movie “Planet of the Apes,” BAPE became a symbol for trendy youth. Ever the pulse of streetwear fashion, BAPE, short for A Bathing Ape, sits at the forefront of a movement that has now entered the mainstream.

From its inception, the brand has been a master of scarcity, creating an irresistible aura of exclusivity that birthed a new cultural phenomenon. The result is an array of iconic pieces, from the coveted BAPE shark hoodies and insulated snow jackets to the highly sought-after Bapesta sneaker. The brand’s enduring appeal testifies to its deep connections within hip-hop and street culture.

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Kapital

Canoe Club Kapital lookbook image of man wearing Japanese Streetwear combined with heritage denim outfit.

Kapital, the brainchild of father and son duo Toshikiyo and Kiro Hirata, is an emblem of Japan’s rich culture and history. Beginning its journey as a devoted manufacturer of meticulously crafted American denim, Kapital is now leading the way in the realm of contemporary Japanese fashion. Tracing its roots back to a humble operation in Kojima, the so-called ‘denim capital’ of Japan, the brand has since Toshikiyo’s first encounter with American denim in the United States. His initial fascination sparked his journey into mastering the art of denim manufacturing.

The brand underwent a radical transformation when Kiro Hirata, Toshikiyo’s son, joined the family business in 2002 after studying art in America. Kapital became a blend of tradition and modernism, a marriage that continues to define Kapital’s unique aesthetic. Highlighted by their unconventional approach to distressing clothes, Kapital combines traditional Japanese craftsmanship with and edgy, avant-garde style.

Each collection that Kapital releases is inspired by a different region or culture, providing a vivid cultural narrative. In its quest to redefine Japanese fashion, Kapital not only pays homage to Japan’s history but also dares to critique it.

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If you don’t want to read the full post, check out our video of the top Japanese Streetwear Brands

Neighborhood 

Man facing backward wearing a Neighborhood long sleeve t shirt.

Once a well-kept secret in the vibrant backstreets of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, NEIGHBORHOOD has blossomed into a beacon of global streetwear. Pioneered by Shinsuke Takizawa in the culturally chaotic days of the early ’90s, the brand represents an exquisite blend of Americana and punk rock. Takizawa’s love for motorcycle culture reverberates through each piece, lending the brand an edge that’s as authentic as the Ura-Harajuku landscape from which it sprouted.

Although initially recognized only by streetwear aficionados making their pilgrimage to Japan, the brand’s masterful craftsmanship, superior quality, and meticulous attention to detail have earned it a global stage.

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Beams

Beams Plus Japanese Streetwear outfit, button down shirt, shorts, and bucket hat.

With roots dating back to 1976, Beams was founded by Etsuzo Shitara in the vibrant Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. Echoing a UCLA dorm room’s warmth and simplicity, Beams’ early offerings showcased a unique blend of varsity-inspired clothing and quaint home wares. As the brand grew, it expanded into various sub-brands, each with its unique perspective on Americana clothing.

Beams Plus, launched in 1999, is dedicated to reimagining the golden age of American menswear (1940s-1960s). While the brand’s reach has primarily remained within Japan, its push into the American market through Beams Plus has started turning heads in the Western fashion industry.

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South2 West8

2 people standing next to each other wear South2 West8 from head to toe.

Despite its evolution and growing fan base beyond Japan, South2 West8 has managed to maintain its unique aesthetic—playful utilitarianism—that sets it apart in a world brimming with outdoor fashion brands. Known for inventive and functional pieces, the brand successfully straddles the line between urban and wilderness fashion. Each garment is crafted to be purposeful yet stylish. Its designs cater to the urban commuter and the outdoor enthusiast alike, making the brand both utilitarian and chic.

Shop at Bodega

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Undercover

Black Undercover T Shrit with white text

Jun Takahashi’s Undercover, a brand synonymous with Tokyo’s subversive underground, straddles the world of streetwear and high fashion effortlessly. Imagine if Supreme and Chanel had a lovechild with a rebellious streak, that’s Undercover. Its eclectic aesthetic, birthed amid the bursting Japanese economic bubble, is a potent blend of chaos, resolve, fragility, and humor.

From his first runway collection in 1994, Takahashi has redefined familiar clothing staples into distinct fashion pieces. A B-3 flight jacket cinching a long skirt or lingerie morphing into utility gear are just a few examples of his disruptive designs. Takahashi’s iconic collections also include collaborations with names like Nike, Supreme, Uniqlo, and Hello Kitty, creating a brand with a true global presence.

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VISVIM

Man Wearing Boxy Oversized Japanese Streetwear brand Visvim

When it comes to balancing heritage with innovation, Visvim, a Japanese brand established in 2001, is the gold standard. Hiroki Nakamura, the brainchild behind Visvim, elegantly fuses Americana ruggedness with artisanal Japanese traditions, capturing the essence of this fusion in every piece. Growing up amidst Tokyo’s fascination with casual American clothing, Nakamura’s love for Americana style deepened during his travels across rural America and encounters with indigenous Alaskan communities. These diverse influences materialized into a brand that is now revered for its beautifully aged clothing and footwear that seamlessly blend tradition and modernity.

Moving into apparel, Nakamura employed a ‘future vintage’ approach, crafting garments that nod to the past while retaining a timeless appeal. Today, Visvim’s collections—ranging from military-inspired apparel upgraded with modern technologies like Gore-Tex, to artisanal denim jackets—are celebrated for their exquisite quality and craftsmanship.

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Y-3

Two men wearing Y-3 Adidas outfits.

For two decades, Y-3, the audacious partnership between Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto and sportswear titan adidas, has been redefining the borders between high fashion and streetwear.

Y-3’s most iconic pieces aren’t just clothing; they’re design statements that have left an indelible mark on the industry. Y-3’s essence lies in this synthesis of sportswear, streetwear, and luxury, a blend that’s given us memorable pieces like the futuristic Y-3 PureBOOST, Y-3 Run Boost, and the avant-garde Y-3 4D Runner. Despite the cooling hype, Y-3 continues to make strides in lifestyle footwear and athleisure-wear.

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Needles

3 people sitting on a city bench wearing the Japanese streetwear brand Needles

Known for its unique interpretations of American style, Needles often draws inspiration from icons like Miles Davis and Steve McQueen, but with a distinctive, often flashy Japanese twist. The brand’s extensive repertoire includes loose-fitting blazers, lightweight floral shirts, and billowing BDU pants. Each season, Keizo Shimizu’s collections are centered around a specific inspiration, creating pieces that effortlessly weave into the overarching Needles narrative. These garments can range from resembling finds at an army surplus store to wardrobe staples of a 70s chemistry teacher. Whether it’s simple suits, military-style outerwear, or exceedingly luxurious loungewear, the core ethos of Needles is all about ease and coolness.

Shop at Bodega

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Wacko Maria

Wacko Maria Streetwear

In the eclectic world of Tokyo streetwear, WACKO MARIA reigns supreme. The brand is notably recognized for its lettered and embroidered apparel, emblazoned with phrases like “PARADISE TOKYO” and “GUILTY PARTIES”. Whether you’re a streetwear aficionado or just a casual enthusiast, WACKO MARIA’s unique blend of cultural and artistic influences makes it a brand worth watching.

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Additional Japanese Streetwear Brands

We recognize that taste is incredibly subjective. There are countless iconic and innovative Japanese brands that resonate with different individuals for varying reasons. Therefore, any top 10 list can only serve as a snapshot. You definitely want to check out these additional brands.

Comme Des Garcons

WTAPS

Mastermind JAPAN

Cav Empt

Nanamica

Sacai

Sasquatchfabrix

TheSoloist

Ambush

FUMITO GANRYU 

Hombre Nino

Evisu

White Mountaineering

Snow Peak

and Wander

FAQs about Japanese Streetwear

Japanese street fashion, often centered around the Harajuku district in Tokyo, represents a cultural revolution against traditional dress codes, serving as a form of self-expression for the youth. It encourages experimentation with interesting silhouettes and colors, and is characterized by a commitment to personal style, often featuring avant-garde and eccentric elements reminiscent of haute couture seen on European catwalks.
You can shop for Japanese streetwear brands like Kapital and South2 West8 online through various platforms including the brands’ official websites, international fashion retailers like MR PORTER and SSENSE, as well as specialized boutiques such as Mannahatta NYC, Bodega, and BLUE IN GREEN SOHO. Other notable online stores include Fashionship and ZenMarket.jp which ship directly from Japan, offering a wide range of products from these brands.
For shopping used Japanese streetwear, Grailed is an excellent online platform where you can find a wide variety of pieces from popular brands. If you prefer in-person shopping, second-hand stores like Second Street across the US offer a great selection of pre-loved streetwear items.

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