Japanese Archive Fashion

Ian Navarro, Journalist

Japanese fashion has been prominent in the fashion scene since the 80s and 90s. 

Japanese fashion is so diverse that it cannot be grouped together by  styles from designers and brands. But, a very popular subculture in the Japanese fashion scene is archive fashion. 

Archive fashion is any historically significant piece of clothing from designers such as Jun Takahashi. He is the designer of the very popular brand Undercover, 

Other notable designers in archive fashion are Takahiro Miyashita who was the former owner and founder of Number (N)ine, and Issey Miyake who is a very notable designer who has recently passed. 

Although certain archive pieces can reach thousands of dollars, these brands are not considered “designer”. The price tag comes from the limited quantity of these clothes made, the quality, the age of these pieces, and the time put into making them.

What separates archive fashion from its counterparts is that each designer pays close attention to detail and the effort put into their pieces of clothing. 

This is evident in Takahashi’s work on denim. Each pair of denim is different. Prices on Undercover denim can go well above thousands of dollars depending on the age and the piece. 

Another notable denim designer, Miyashita has influenced fashion across the world. His most influential work can be seen in the SS04 (Spring Summer 2004)  “Dream Baby Dream” collection. 

What is so notable about that collection? In your own words how would you describe it?

Although Miyashita is no longer with Number (N)ine, his work under the label will always be considered the label’s prime. Each piece he created had a story and meaning behind it. 

These brands have had influence across the world. Now they have formed a cult following of people who will spend any amount of money on their pieces. 

This influence can also be seen across social media. Small clothing brands on Instagram are taking inspiration from the Number (N)ine bold font shirts. Many of these brands are also taking influence from the style and fit of Takahashi’s denim. 

These designers pay close attention to every detail in these clothes, unlike big name brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuttion, and Dolce and Gabbana which sets them apart from these bigger names. 

The quality of the material used in these garments also sets Japanese archive fashion apart from everything else.

Archive pieces from Undercover’s first notable collection AW99/00 “Ambivalence”  (Autumn Winter 1999/2000) are still being sold in amazing condition today. 

Most of the big name fashion brands are fast fashion and lack quality and thought behind their work, but Shein or Zara.