W ith a career spanning more than three decades, Japanese designer, musician and creative director Hiroshi Fujiwara is credited with changing the genesis of street fashion and popularising hip-hop in Japan. Often cited as the Godfather of Streetwear, the multi-hyphenate creative bridged streetwear and high-fashion long before the Internet made influencers a phenomenon. His fashion label, Fragment Design, bears a cult following making every prolific brand collaboration and new drop the most highly-coveted item to own.
On the occasion of Personal Effects: Hiroshi Fujiwara, we speak with the legend himself about some of his most prized items from the sale and why he likes to meet young artists.
Taking its namesake from Fujiwara’s iconic 2009 book, the online sale offers more than 50 items across fashion, art and collectibles — all handpicked from his personal collection. From a beloved original 1936 Levi’s 506XX T-back jean jacket and a vintage Hermès Haut à Courroies, to a custom-size guitar taking after the one he famously designed for Eric Clapton, and Goyard bags painted by Fujiwara himself, discover a plethora of one-off pieces and unique items that hold a special place in his life.
Also included in the sale are rare-to-market collector pieces such as a Nike Dunk Hi Fragment Design prototype and Nike Air Jordan 1 High OG ’85 “Royal”, the shepherd UNDERCOVER x Fragment Design MA-1 bomber jacket, and a Louis Vuitton x Fragment Design bag. The sale also provides a glimpse at Fujiwara’s personal taste in art, with works by international names including Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, and FUTURA, showcased alongside Japanese stars such as Mai Kurosaka and Koji Yamaguchi.
We say photographers observe the world through the lens of their cameras. What do you see, how does the world look to you when you look through the lens?
I believe I’m seeing the same view as everyone else. But when you are referencing the camera lens, where you focus on could really change the picture.
How do you bring your distinct personality to each collaboration? Could you talk us through your process when designing for collaborations, such as dunk high prototype we have in the sale?
I would say that I’m a quick thinker and genuinely honest to my instincts. I follow my instincts and what I like at the time when I’m designing. I don’t normally go back and change things once I finish the design.
Which pieces [from this sale] are your favourite and why?
Honestly there are many pieces that I like and want to keep for myself. But I would say the century-old Hermès Haut à Courroies bag and Levi’s 506XX jacket are masterpieces that I may never find again. Also Mark Gonzales art pieces are very personal to me.
Could you tell us about the story behind the Levi’s 506XX jean jacket?
This jacket I believe I picked up in LA back in the 1990s. I had no clue that the bigger sizes in Levi’s first jacket so called “T-Back” jackets were so valuable until recently. I collected these T-Back jackets because I personally like longer body length so I happened to be collecting big sizes. I hope it goes to someone who understands the value and the story, and someone who would actually wear it, the jacket still has plenty of indigo left.
What interests you when you meet young artists? How do you decide what art to collect?
I like meeting young artists. Learning their stories behind the art and to also learn who is making the art. I don’t collect art, I’m not a collector. But if there is something that I like then I will try and see if I can obtain it.
We have a number of items that were custom made for you or by you. As a designer, what inspires you to add your own touch?
I like actualising ideas to see the outcomes. Over the years I never got tired of experimenting and trying new ideas. I was excited about all the custom items that were put out for this auction.
You are regarded as the Godfather of Streetwear, a trailblazer of street fashion. How do you respond to that? What do you think is the appeal to street fashion that has propelled it into the global movement today?
I’ve never intended to be anything or anyone, I’ve always followed what I liked to do really. I think that this whole “street” culture was meant to evolve.
You started out as a DJ and was part of the cohort who popularised hip-hop in Japan. Did these early years in music influence your taste as a designer? In what ways?
I’m not sure if being a DJ influenced my taste, but music has been something that I’ve always enjoyed, I still remix songs before I go to bed.
With your brand Fragment Design, you have built up an impressive portfolio of collaborations with many brands across different industries. What have been some of your most memorable collaborations to date?
Working with Nike for the first time was memorable to me, I’ve always been into sneakers since I was a kid. Being able to design one was a good feeling. The capsule collection with Louis Vuitton was also memorable.