Much hyped, little known. I attempt to uncover Japanese cult fashion brand, Undercover.

Undercover Spring 2004 sending twins down the runway

I initially fancied Jun Takahashi's work, the designer of Undercover, in the middle of a desperate spring/summer 2014 fashion week. Among most highly commercialised, little creativity-infused shows, there was a real gem showing with a bang. Back then I didn't realise that Takahashi is no dark horse in the business (he maybe was, but I was obviously wrong) since his collection appears really fresh, almost untouched by the commercial wisdom that has long disoriented fashion industry. His word play of GODS x DOGS, GUNS x SNUG and so on reflects much of the creativity and his rebellious side.

Fall 2005-2006

Undercover itself came into inception in 1993, but it is in 2002 that the label started showing in Paris. In 2011, Takahashi took a two-year absence after a tsunami and earthquake hit his homeland, Japan. Bringing his Japanese sensibilities on the brand, Takahashi bridges couture-like treatment on board with certain wit and eccentricity no other designer has. On one side his designs remind me of Margiela's and Westwood's but on the other side it feels like a whole different world altogether. "Punk" is how the designer describes the brand--and his personal style. Shredded, deconstructed, subversive pieces are his go-to designs, in a way challenging fashion industry's resonance of everything perfectly polished.

Inside Jun Takahashi's scrapbook (from A Magazine Curated By)

There are several, if not all, collections that have catapulted Undercover to stardom. Takahashi always tickles the senses of the viewers with tantalising fashion shows. They are fascinating and eerie at times, such as the time when the model's lineup consisted of identical twins wearing similar clothes (Spring 2004) or when all models strut the catwalk with masked face (Fall 2006). Takahashi, too, addresses global issues in his collection. Take a look at his Fall 2007 creations in which he adapted NASA technology for the clothes that will stand the harsh change of climate. Even Takahashi can turn American preppy look into certain subversion by covering the models' head with latex (Fall 2008).

Undercover Fall 2006

Undercover Fall 2007

Undercover Fall 2008

Takahashi is also a runner, which is perhaps why he taps into a collaboration with renowned sports brand Nike for several installments. With the name Undercover Gyakusou he works closely with Nike's Apparel Innovation Design Team to explore the latest technology in sportswear. The Japanese designer's collaborative effort also stretches to the world of publishing, in which he guest-edits an issue of A Magazine Curated By, an insider magazine that invites brilliant names in fashion designers to curate an issue. Maison Martin Margiela, Riccardo Tisci and Yohji Yamamoto are among its impressive guest editors.

Nike x Undercover Gyakusou

The designer models his own collection in collaboration with Nike

more about Undercover: www.undercoverism.com

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