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Hiroshi Fujiwara Is a One-Man Hype Factory

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In January, everyone at Paris Fashion Week had something to say about Virgil Abloh’s claim that streetwear was dead, but only one of these comments stuck with me: “As long as Hiroshi Fujiwara is alive,” one fashion CEO told me, “streetwear is alive as well.”

Six months later, when I meet Fujiwara for tea in Tokyo’s Roppongi neighborhood, the founder of Japan’s original streetwear label, Good Enough, is unencumbered by the achievements and associations which inspire such hyperbole. His outfit is autobiographical, but not at all nostalgic: Trousers he designed for a recent collaboration between Moncler and his own Fragment Design imprint, paired with a black-and-white Fragment t-shirt. His eyeglasses, framed by shoulder-length curtains of black-and-silver hair, are Oakleys, and his shoes are Nike Air Jordan 3s. Both feature Fragment’s distinctive twin-lightning bolt logo.

“They always want the logo,” Fujiwara says of his collaborators, which include iconic brands ranging from Levi’s to Louis Vuitton. “You know, for my signature.”

What these collaborators are really after, I suspect, is Fujiwara’s boundless aura of cool. Then there’s the fact that he speaks English well enough to develop real friendships with American and European designers, who so often fall in love with Japan and so rarely bother to learn its language. Even my offer to conduct our interview in Japanese is rebuffed, and when I ask Fujiwara to wait a moment while I find the questions I’ve prepared, he tells me not to bother.

“Just talk to me,” he says.

TOKYO JAPAN NOVEMBER 30 Hiroshi Fujiwara attends the photocall at the Dior Pre Fall 2019 Men's Collection on November...

Fujiwara at his buddy Kim Jones’s Pre-Fall 2019 Dior show.

Getty Images

Fujiwara, who is 56, spends much of our conversation playing down his influence—he isn’t interested in trading on his past or his reputation, which have made him “the godfather of all the young, promising designers today,” according to Colette’s Sarah Andelman. He tells me, for example, that he wasn’t Japan’s first hip-hop DJ, as many have claimed, though his 1982 trip to New York, and the rap records it yielded, surely made him among the first DJs in his country.

“My friend told me there’s hip-hop going on in New York,” he says, neglecting to mention that this friend was Malcolm McLaren, the punk impresario who was then Vivienne Westwood’s partner. “So I went to New York to see what’s going on.”

He also denies credit for bringing the Stüssy brand to Japan in the 1980s, which is especially strange since Shawn Stussy himself says otherwise. And yet, however charming such modesty may seem in our age of clout-chasing influencers, the vastness of Fujiwara’s influence on our culture has already been measured by his peers. The artist Takashi Murakami, for example, has called him “a cultural leader in Japan,” and predicts that his influence will continue for generations due to the number of artists he’s helped discover. And in 2003, when the director Sofia Coppola released her second feature film, Lost in Translation, it featured a cameo appearance by Fujiwara, who can be seen hanging out at a Tokyo nightclub.

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