Very much like its name, Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER is possibly one of the most clandestine labels as its intentions, designs, concepts and themes are often shrouded in mystery, very much traversing the line of the covert as of Martine Margiela and Rei Kawakubo. Today, UNDERCOVER commands the attention of the fashion world and Takahashi’s work continues to awe and inspire season after season. The label’s clothes are available all over the world with a loyal fan base, and is continually expanding. This month, UNDERCOVER is bringing its work online to Japan’s ZOZOTOWN with its very own online shop.
Despite its dazzling success, UNDERCOVER actually took a long and winded journey before arriving at where it is today. UNDERCOVER was conceived in 1989, while Jun Takahashi was still studying at Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College. Two years after graduating in 1991, Takahashi opened his first retail business and won the hearts of Tokyo’s youth over with his anti-establishment image. His punk street style with deconstructed jackets and tees and fearless play with layering and bold graphics became favored by youths in revolt. His clothes, very much like his clientele then, share a sense of anarchy towards the norm and form, and hence challenges the standards of fashion where clothes stay primly made and properly worn.
In 1994, Takahashi first showed his collection in Tokyo, but his international debut didn’t come until almost a decade later in 2002, when Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo encouraged Takahashi to show in Paris. His first Paris show “Scab” (also revived this year and just released a few days ago) takes his penchant for the theatrics of ripping things apart to a whole new level. Pieces are violently torn to shreds then sewn back together with crude red stitching. While the collection was rather well received (the very private Rei Kawakubo also appeared on the front row to suppor Takahashi), his rise to international stardom really hit in 2006, when the designer sent veiled models shrouded in knitted hoods down the runway. Controversy broke out after the show as some felt that the collection is redolent of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In response, Takahashi assured that his collection was not a political statement but an anthem for hidden beauty.
For Spring/Summer 2010, other than a new, more subtle version of “SCAB” (ripped clothing are reconstructed with matching stitching, resulting in an overall tonal collection where contrasting textures dictates attention), Takahashi takes a break from thespian designs and opt for a new inspiration in industrial designer, Dieter Rams. The Dieter Rams inspired “Less But Better”, “Lullaby of Grace The Lamb” (as first previewed by UNDERCOVER MOOK) line of tees and hoodies featuring graphics and dictum of Rams are now available for pre-order alongside the UNDERCOVER MOOK UNDERCOVERISM book.
Also marking the grand opening of UNDERCOVER on ZOZO TOWN, the label is releasing a series of Open Limited Items such as the simple ZOZOVILLA LTD Back Pack, lightly washed, deliberately faded and distressed LTD Crash Denim, a grey UNDERCOVER logo tee, and a pair of low-top lace-less canvas kicks which puts a twist on the classic Converse Chuck Taylor low-tops. The only difference is that the new kicks feature a rumpled lace placket, keeping in line with Takahashi’s playful sense of deconstructionism.
Novelty items such as a special photo book signed by Takahashi and UNDERCOVER’s Spring/Summer 2010 look book will be gifted those those who sign up for the UNDERCOVER Mail Magazine on ZOZO prior to the store’s grand opening. Visit ZOZOVILLA and check out what is going on under the cover and do check back again on Jan. 31, when the store is officially opened.