Legendary Designer Hiroshi Fujiwara Breaks Down His Biggest Collaborations | ComplexCon(versations)

At ComplexCon 2017, Jeff Staple (founder, Staple Design) hosted The Art of Collab, with part one of the ComplexCon(versations) panel featuring legendary designer Hiroshi Fujiwara. The founder of fragment design, Fujiwara is widely regarded as the “Godfather of Streetwear” and has worked with Nike, Stussy, Louis Vuitton, and many other brands throughout his 30-plus year career.

During the conversation, Fujiwara opens up about​ HTM, his collaboration with Nike's Mark Parker (CEO) and Tinker Hatfield (Vice President for Design and Special Projects) that is viewed as one of the most innovative projects in the sneaker industry. He also shares his take on past collaborations spanning Levi's to Starbucks and reveals some Nike samples that could see a potential release. 

Interestingly enough, one of the sample shoes features “The Ten” on the heel tab, which leads to Staple asking what it means in light of Virgil Abloh's “The Ten” collaboration with Nike. Fujiwara suggests they may have both been tasked with working on a collection with Nike, but Abloh “won the game, I lost it… the thing he did was beautiful.”

​Check out part one of The Art of Collab panel above and keep it locked to Complex as we'll be sharing part two featuring Staple and Fujiwara alongside André 3000, Sarah Andelman, and Jon Wexler.

More from Complex

Jeff Staple Says He Almost Didn’t Want to Bring Back the Pigeon Dunk

The “Pigeon” Nike SB Dunk came back last week in the form of a black version, but the sneaker itself almost didn't happen. In a recent interview on Sole Collector's Full Size Run show, he explains that he was afraid to put the bird on another pair of Dunks.

“When we started the conversation two years ago about doing round two, there was discussion, in my head mostly, like, 'Maybe I don't want to touch that. Maybe that's the Holy Grail,” Staple says. “I touched it in 2005, and I'm not supposed to ever touch it again.”

Staple goes on to say, “Then I was like, 'Fuck it [laughs].'”

Watch the rest of the episode above to find out how the collaboration took place and Staple's thoughts on Nike's current struggles as well as Hiroshi Fujiwara revealing that he may have another Nike “The 10” collaboration on the way.

More from Complex

Union LA’s Chris Gibbs Continues to Have the Best Eye in Streetwear

In 1989, Mary Ann Fusco and James Jebbia, who would go on to found Supreme six years later, opened Union NYC. The 300-square-foot shop—on Spring Street near West Broadway—carried American streetwear brands, workwear, utility pieces, and more. At the time, “there was nothing with this kind of feel,” Fusco said in an interview with the New York Times. Three years later, Union opened a brick and mortar in Los Angeles, right off the corner of W. 1st Street and S. La Brea Avenue. (The New York location was closed in 2009.) 

Over the years, Union provided an establishment for those who were into different youth sub-genres in New York. It's introduced generations of customers to new, sometimes rare, brands. Union carried Adidas Originals in 2001, when the brand had just launched, as well as hard-to-find Japanese brands—BapeNeighborhoodWTaps and, most recently, visvim—and up-and-coming local brands. Many have even credited Union as the place where they learned about streetwear. “Union was a mecca of a location for me,” Jeff Staple, designer of Staple, said during a panel at ComplexCon this past November. “It was probably the birthplace for the [streetwear] mentality.”

Not much has changed since then. Thanks to current owner Chris Gibbs, the retailer is still always ahead of the curve. Often carrying rare brands, Union LA is a shopping destination for designers like John Elliott, whose brand is sold there, and a breeding ground for great up-and-coming labels.

Gibbs, who grew up in Ottawa, Canada, first caught wind of the shop through his then-girlfriend-now-wife, Beth, after moving to New York in 1994. He was immediately hooked. “I used to be the captain of the basketball team, but I also listened to punk music and liked to skateboard,” he says. “I was all over the fucking place.” Chris found sanctuary in a store that was as eccentric and non-conformist as he was.

By 1996, Gibbs began working at Union NY. He knew he had to be a part of this cultural breeding ground that harvested youthful creativity. “At that time, we were dictating the market completely,” Gibbs says of Union. “Literally anybody could walk into the store on any given day and be like, ‘Hey, I’m a T-shirt designer. Can I show it to you?’ If we liked it, we picked it up right then and there. And if we didn’t: sorry. There was really dope shit coming through. Two, three times a week some kid from [Brooklyn, NY arts university] Pratt or I don’t fucking know, would come in and be like, ‘Hey, I have these T-shirts. You wanna sell em?’ And we’d sell em.” To Gibbs, brand names didn’t matter. Instead, what he liked were items of clothing that looked cool and represented the culture.

Before long, Gibbs had moved on from shop boy to buyer, picking up obscure brands he personally wanted to wear for Union. In 2004, he moved to L.A. and bought Union from former owner Eddie Cruz, who went on to found Undefeated.

Today, Gibbs continues to look for brands that fall within the same principles that he’s been fostering during his time with Union—dope shit that the youth can fuck with. But how does he do it? Complex hung out with Gibbs for a day—and even tagged along to an appointment with John Elliott at the American designer’s L.A. showroom—to find out.

More from Complex