It’s hard to imagine some of the biggest names in designer streetwear fashion, like NEIGHBORHOOD, where virtually unknown in the West for a long time. Now, everywhere you turn it seems as though NEIGHBORHOOD is announcing new lines, collaborations, special edition clothing, and even homeware oddities. But for almost 20 years, Japanese streetwear was a well-kept secret for those in the know. The brand nestled itself right in the heart of Ura-Harajuku, a small but booming fashion district in Shibuya, Tokyo where many of Japan’s biggest names in streetwear set up shop.
NEIGHBORHOOD Founder, Shinsuke Takizawa
Shinsuke Takizawa first visited the Harajuku district in the 1980’s, a time of cultural shift in Japan’s street scene. It was during this time that many figures, such as Hiroshi Fujiwara, were implementing fashion and cultural experiences of New York’s hip-hop and B-Boy scenes and London’s punk and teddy-boy culture. It was this truly chaotic fashion culture that first inspired Takizawa to create his own label. Takizawa drew from his own personal passions of the punk rock and Americana motorcycle culture as the foundations for his own brand, NEIGHBORHOOD.
NEIGHBORHOOD pulled elements of American military, rock & roll, and biker culture to create a heavy, blacked out, skull-adorned aesthetics, the first of its kind in Tokyo, and even the world of fashion. In fact, NEIGHBORHOOD would go on to be one of the first recognizable streetwear brands coming out of Japan. Although NEIGHBORHOOD remained relatively unknown outside of Japan, only saved for the locals and streetwear enthusiasts that ventured to the Harajuku fashion district, it now is known around the world for its distinctive style.
View this post on Instagram
Though it may not seem like it now, Harajuku fashion district was not always the booming retail hotspot that it is today. In the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s many retail store owners gravitated to Harajuku for its cheap rent and convenient location. All the way through the early 2000’s NEIGHBORHOOD didn’t even really have any of their own flagship stores, but rather ran out of a store called HOOD that not only sold NEIGHBORHOOD apparel but other brands such as WTAPS and Rats, on top of selling NEIGHBORHOOD through other department stores and boutiques.
What makes NEIGHBORHOOD such an interesting brand is their undeniable reputation in Tokyo and the impact it had on the fashion industry. While many would compare NEIGHBORHOOD to American brands like J. Crew, there never seemed to be any plans to go worldwide and make the brand an international success. Rather, Takizawa works purely out of creative curiosity and a passion for clothing. Business has been good to him for over 20 years now, and international markets have just been a nice added bonus.
Nevertheless, NEIGHBORHOOD soon partnered with a millennium of mainstream brands to create collaboration and limited addition pieces that ultimately put NEIGHBORHOOD on the map in Western markets. NEIGHBORHOOD still dominates the streetwear scene all over the world but has played a large role in the influence of American streetwear.