Don C. and Hiroshi Fujiwara on the Influence Japanese Streetwear Has Had on America | ComplexCon(versations)

At ComplexCon 2017, Union LA's Chris Gibbs hosted Hype East, a panel featuring Takashi Murakami, Don C. (founder, Just Don), Hiroshi Fujiwara, and Yoon Ahn (founder, Ambush), who dissected the influence Japanese streetwear has had on America.

“For me, when I look at it, it's always going around in a circle,” Ahn says. “We consume it and we make it better, and then the people who gave birth to it, they kind of appreciate it again.”

Takashi also explains how Star Wars and George Lucas have had a major impact on him, and Don C. praises Hiroshi Fujiwara for being an architect for today's scene. “Everybody up in here is here… maybe a few degrees of separation, but somehow because of you,” he says.

Watch the full conversation above, and keep it locked to Complex as we'll be sharing more ComplexCon(versations) panels featuring the likes of André 3000, Rick Ross, Lena Waithe, Ryan Coogler, Virgil Abloh, Cam'ron, and more.

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How Kim Jones Made Louis Vuitton Cool

On Thursday, Kim Jones, one of the most important designers in menswear right now, took his final bow. It was announced earlier this week that he was leaving his post as artistic men’s director at Louis Vuitton.

Since 2011, Jones has designed the French fashion house’s menswear collections and solidified the label’s place as a leader in the conversation on what’s cool. Forging collaborations with brands like Supreme and Fragment Design, he opened up Louis Vuitton to a new loyal following of streetwear fans and, most notably, gave the label an identity that holds influence and relevance.

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

His final show, which took place at the Grand Palais, was the perfect display of his streetwear sensibility and knack for turning his exotic travels into beautiful garments. Models walked down the runway in cashmere Flankman-shorts typically worn by American rodeo pro-athletes, which he saw during a trip to Wyoming, several garments with textured prints from aerial shots he took while flying over Kenya, where he grew up, and a knit sweater with the Louis Vuitton logo reconfigured to read “Peace and Love”—perhaps his way of saying goodbye. Of course, he also paid homage to the legacy of Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, who appointed Jones as style director in 2011 and artistic director of menswear after his departure, through Louis Vuitton-monogram trench coats modeled by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. “This was really a thank you and reference to @themarcjacobs early 2000s Vuitton and the fact that he was the one that gave me the opportunity to be @louisvuitton love you all xxx,” he wrote on Instagram.

In 1997, Jacobs became the artistic director for Louis Vuitton and introduced the luxury brand’s first ready-to-wear men’s and women’s collection. It would be the first time that Louis Vuitton, a 141-year-old fashion house that mostly catered to consumers who could afford $10,000 trunks, became synonymous with the words “innovative” and “cool.” In 2011, Jacobs famously collaborated with artist and designer Stephen Sprouse on a collection of traditional monogram handbags covered in neon graffiti spelling out the brand’s name. In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Jacobs told reporter Sarah Mower his mindset behind rebelling: “I had been trying to follow the rules and do what everybody told me until it got to the point where I realized that’s not why I was brought here. I’m here to do something to make this young and cool and contemporary and of the moment…. It had the credibility of the street, but also this sort of style of somebody who was a fashion designer.”

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

During his 16-year tenure at Louis Vuitton, Jacobs went on to work with artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Yayoi Kusama. Through these collaborations, he authentically was able to tap into a younger customer base.

But if Jacobs paved the way for legacy brands to put art on the runways and in stores, Jones was responsible for bringing streetwear to the storied fashion house and, arguably, high-fashion. He sent models down the runway in denim designed in collaboration with Japanese label Kapital for Spring 2013. His Spring 2015 collection, which included a bright pink bomber jacket inspired by his travels to India. His Fall 2015 line was dedicated to his favorite designer, Christopher Nemeth, who also had a knack for mixing high-fashion with street. He also designed two insanely successful collaborations with Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment Design and Supreme.

The high-fashion industry might be accepting streetwear now and, in some cases, even borrowing from the culture but Louis Vuitton, under Jones, was a trailblazer in this. A genuine fan of streetwear himself, he has spoken about admiring not labels like just Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen but also A Bathing Ape, Supreme, and Good Enough. While in college at Central Saint Martins, he worked at Gimme5, a company that introduced him to Japanese designers Jun Takahashi, Fujiwara, and Nigo. A decade before his stint at Vuitton, he mixed his love for streetwear with high-fashion fabrics on the runway for his own eponymous label from 2003 until 2008. At one point, he was even involved in Kanye’s defunct clothing label Pastelle, which helped foster his friendships with West and Off-White’s Virgil Abloh. “Some critics say that I’m just jumping on the bandwagon, but actually I’m not,” he said about his connection to streetwear, specifically Supreme, in an interview with South China Morning Post. “It’s always been part of my DNA.”

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

Jones’ strength, in addition to his obvious talent and skill in design, has been being able to captivate young consumers—without alienating Louis Vuitton’s older shoppers. According to Fashionista, LVMH’s profit increased by 23% in the first half of 2017 largely due to Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme. “We get lots of fashion kids, lots of classic men and some sort of older, cooler guys and some really traditional men, and I have to cover everybody,” he told Esquire. “There are three or four collections in the store at the same time. I’m aware that I have to dress someone who’s either 16 or 60.”

It’s unclear where Jones will go next, though there are rumors he may potentially head to Burberry, which announced last October that its designer, Christopher Bailey, was exiting the brand. But it’s undeniable that he re-invigorated Louis Vuitton’s men’s line for a younger generation. Louis Vuitton, under Jones’ direction, disrupted what luxury menswear could look like.

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

 

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It Sounds Like Kanye West and Kid Cudi Have a Secret Project in the Works

Rare good news alert.

Kanye West and Kid Cudi are reportedly working on a “top-secret project” together. At least, that's what this report from Page Six would have us believe. In an article that confusingly refuses to name Cudi in the headline (opting instead for “ex-protégé”), sources let loose what they (allegedly!) know about the collaboration.

“[Kanye West and Kid Cudi are] going to drop some crazy collaboration out of the blue,” one source claimed. “They're going to drop some surprise project on everybody. They're recording it now.” According to an insider, “nobody knows what it is” and the artists are keeping the creative process minimal. The alleged recording setup is just West, Cudi, and an engineer.

The report adds that sessions have taken place in Japan, where the two were spotted earlier this month paying Graduation cover artist Takashi Murakami a visit at his studio.

 

Long time no see @kidcudi and #kanyewest. Thank you for coming to my studio. It was fire 🔥🔥🔥

A post shared by Takashi Murakami (@takashipom) on Aug 11, 2017 at 3:41am PDT

Takashi previously teased a “project that I can not say yet” with an Instagrammed photo gallery. The mystery project was teased with images of nude art, a guitar case, and a Marshall half stack:

 

A post shared by Takashi Murakami (@takashipom) on Aug 10, 2017 at 4:16pm PDT

Fans have been sharing photos of the 808s & Heartbreak collaborators out and about in Tokyo:

 

칸예실사 👅

A post shared by 정 민수 (@carborfiber) on Aug 11, 2017 at 11:25pm PDT

 

A post shared by TeamKanyeDaily (@teamkanyedaily) on Aug 12, 2017 at 11:07pm PDT

West and Cudi were also seen last month at a Los Angeles-area recording studio with Plain Pat, a name any self-respecting fan will know means something great is almost certainly afoot.

Cudi surprised us all this week with the announcement of his Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin' Tour. The 25-date trek, which includes a spot on Tyler, the Creator's Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles, kicks off Sept. 30 at Philadelphia's Skyline Stage at the Mann.

In a perfect world, West would pop in during the Flog Gnaw set to run through this underrated collab:

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The 5 Rarest Drops From ComplexCon 2016—And How Much They’re Worth Now

The first annual ComplexCon, in Long Beach last November, put the best in music, art, style, food, and more all under one roof. Of course, one of the biggest aspects of ComplexCon 2016 was the apparel and sneaker releases. Brands like Nike, Anti Social Social Club, and Bape either debuted their latest products or dropped exclusive merch only available that weekend. As ComplexCon 2017 approaches, let's take a look back at five of the most hyped drops from last year's event—and how much they're worth now. 


  • Nike SF Air Force 1 “White”

    Original Price: $165
    Resale Price: $306

    Although Nike went on to release multiple colorways of the SF Air Force 1, the model made its debut at last year's ComplexCon. Nike made the sneaker available at their installation in a few colorways. They also dropped an all-white version that was exclusive to ComplexCon. According to sneaker stock market StockX, pairs have sold for as much as $573, but now you should be able to find a pair for around $300.


  • Bape x Travis Scott/Big Sean/Kid Cudi/Complex T-Shirt Collection

    Retail Price: $120
    Resale Price: $114-$500

    Bape also brought some exclusives to ComplexCon. The brand dropped three Baby Milo graphic T-shirts featuring Big Sean, Kid Cudi, or Travis Scott, as well as a graphic tee that combined the ComplexCon logo with Bape's iconic ape head logo. The tees were a hot commodity at the convention. In fact, Bape had one of the longest lines at the convention center because of these shirts. If you weren’t able to make it out to Long Beach last year you'll have to pay anywhere from $114 to $500 to cop now. 


  • Anti Social Social Club x Undefeated ‘Paranoid’ Hoodie

    Original Price: $92
    Resale Price: $175

    One of the most hyped drops at ComplexCon 2016 was Anti Social Social Club's collaboration with Undefeated. The two brands released limited edition T-shirts and hoodies in two different colorways—one for each day of that weekend. Right now, the hoodies are on Grailed for roughly double the retail price, with resale value ranging from $140 to $225.

    Anti Social Social Club also raffled off 24 pairs of their “Get Weird” Air Force 1 Low collaboration. Unfortunately, those will cost you a little more. There is currently a pair listed on Grailed for $4,000.


  • Takashi Murakami x ComplexCon Merch

    Retail Price: $40-$120
    Resale Price: $58-$400

    Takashi Murakami was responsible for the overall design aesthetic of the first annual ComplexCon, and he also released some exclusive merch for the event. Pillows, tote bags, and clothing were all up for grabs. The Murakami merch booth had one of the longest lines at ComplexCon, and select items were on eBay and Grailed for up to a few thousand dollars immediately after ComplexCon 2016. Now, this stuff can be a little harder to come by, but there are a few select items like hats and flower pillows on Grailed for anywhere from $58 to $400.

    Murakami and Complex have continued their partnership leading up to ComplexCon 2017. Select merch is available here.


  • VLONE x Nike Air Force 1

    Original Price: Raffle
    Resale Price: $1,788

    The SF Air Force 1 was not the only shoe that Nike debuted at last year's ComplexCon. The sportswear giant also debuted a highly-anticipated collaboration with ASAP Bari's VLONE. Only five pairs were raffled off to those who copped a VLONE T-shirt. One of the original pairs was even resold on eBay days later for $91,600. Although the sneaker is still being resold for $1,800 on the resale market, according to StockX, Nike has since cut ties with Bari following sexual harassment allegations stemming from the release of graphic video footage. 

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ComplexCon Releases Exclusive and Limited Takashi Murakami Merch

Here’s your chance to cop exclusive Takashi Murakami merch.