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Nigo’s Unmatched Influence on Streetwear Culture

December 3, 2019 17:24

If you ask Nigo’s peers - designers, artists, and musicians to describe him, they will throw around words like “visionary”, “master of taste and design”, and even “a god of culture”. Now, with 48, the unparalleled legacy of the Japanese designer speaks for itself.

What started as a small operation of selling T-shirts in Japan, transitioned into founding a cult streetwear brand called A Bathing Ape  (A Beijingu Eipu)  or ‘BAPE’ in Ura-Harajuku in 1993. Nigo dominated the 2000s with his work for A Bathing Ape and ‘Billionaire Boys Club’, together with Pharrell Williams. He quickly became the go-to designer for the big hip hop artist that time.

Leaving ‘BAPE’ in 2013, Nigo now oversees his brand ‘Human Made’, a much more refined line inspired by ‘60s Americana. Being this visionary, Nigo created an entire world and lifestyle through his designs. He’s always been ahead of the curve, inspiring an the taste of an entire generation in fashion, music, and art. Before streetwear was seen as luxury, Nigo already did, and before collaborations were as common in fashion as they are now, Nigo was already doing that. He is an icon of streetwear culture and that everybody has been influenced by in some way, directly or indirectly. Nigo never submitted to the fashion calendar. He walks at his own pace, always focusing on his vision.

To his peers, he is one of the most important figures in fashion right now. Virgil Abloh went as far as to say that BAPE is his generations Chanel, saying we might never see a brand built as brilliantly as Nigo’s BAPE in our lifetime again. Pharrell Williams says that Nigo is his advisor when it comes to developing new ideas. Artists who are aware of the origin of that culture will forever see Nigo as the standard-bearer and legend in what he does.

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The employees in the boutiques, in the design studio and in the backstage area at fashion shows wear white lab coats, as was common in the ateliers of the great couturiers, e.g. Christian Dior, and is still common today. The fashion shows for the high-priced fashion sometimes took place in the context of the Paris Prêt-à-porter shows in unconventional locations, up to shabby surroundings (construction site, metro station, dining room of the Salvation Army etc.). The boutiques are kept in plain white and gray. Margiela originally selected unspectacular locations such as a residential area in Tokyo and did not publish the addresses of the boutiques in order to require the customer to make an effort to find the store at all. The first Margiela store opened in Tokyo in 2000 and the first European boutique was inaugurated in Brussels in 2002. In 2008, a boutique opened in a basement on the edge of Munich's Maximilianstrasse. This was followed by participation in numerous exhibitions, including "Radical Fashion", which was shown in 2001 at the V&A Museum in London. In 2010 there were 36 own stores worldwide.  In 2015 there were over 50 stores worldwide, including boutiques, that only carry the MM6 collection.

The company followed a very restrictive communication policy. The designer can neither be photographed nor interviewed. Only his creations should speak for themselves and the designs should be perceived as the overall performance of the team. That's why the team always shows up in white doctor's coats after the fashion shows - nobody should stand out.

By recycling old fashion, separating, recoloring, reversing seams and zippers, both the origin and the artificial of the art of tailoring are shown. Margiela puts together what doesn't belong together: by hand, jeans turn into skirts, old army socks become pullovers. Baptized by the press as deconstructivism, this current is defined by an abrupt collision of different materials, which at first glance appear inharmonic in the sense of conventional viewing habits. Margiela herself rejects the term "deconstructivism". He resurrected clothes in a new form, he told ELLE in 1991.

Margiela was the unofficial 7th member of "Antwerp 6", a generation of fashion designers who all completed their training at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1980-1981 and shaped the "style of the Belgians". However, it does not belong to the actual group, but it became known in a similar period.

The Japanese "Street Magazine" dedicated two special editions to "Maison Martin Margiela", which were published in book form in 1999. Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga) is a big fan of Maison Martin Margiela.

In July 2014, fashion critic Suzy Menkes exposed Matthieu Blazy via Instagram as Head of Design, after which he deleted his Instagram account and changed his profile in a career network. He left the company on October 1, 2014.

To this day, Margiela pieces, especially in the fashion industry and all fashion lovers, belong to the sanctuaries in every repertoire and archive. Getting vintage pieces from other designers may be possible, but Maison Martin Marginal Archives are a real hunt and that says it all about this art.