Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent brought to you by Avión Tequila. Each week, we’re spotlighting an emerging brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion
b.Eautiful is a Los Angeles-based brand which launched in 2018. The project aims to identify artists, designers, architects, musicians, film makers, and other entities from Japan that are under-appreciated.
As we’ve discussed previously, there is something of a Western fascination with Japanese culture that borders on objectification and reduction, and as a representative from b.Eautiful tells Highsnobiety, “There’s this preconceived notion of Japanese culture in the US — sushi, anime, samurai, kimono, and so on. We know there’s a lot more to it than that, and we want to share the ideas and knowledge.”
In fashion, there’s no shortage of high-profile western and Japanese collaborations, some of which manifest with a little more tact that others. On one side, there’s the likes of the Nike x COMME des GARÇONS collaboration that married the Swoosh with Rei Kawakubo’s high fashion sensibilities, then there are also brands such as Superdry from the UK, which employ mostly meaningless Japanese phrases from a google translation on its high street athleisure and accessories.
Countering oversimplification of Japanese culture, and finding a nice middle ground between high-end and high street, are b.Eautiful’s range of graphic tees, which drop incrementally so each artist has the spotlight to share their life story or work.
“We’re either looking to educate people on the history behind major Japanese phenomena or artists like we did with Tetsumi Kudo, or provide a platform for upcoming Japanese artists like we did with our most recent collaborator, Stephanie Mendoza,” says b.Eautiful, which prefers to remain anonymous.
One notable drop previously placed Masaaki Soto-shot graphics for Pocari Sweat — a famous Japanese sports drink perhaps known to Westerners for its unappetizing name — on the back of a white cotton tee.
While some streetwear newcomers might think that Japanese art begins and ends with Takashi Murakami, b.Eautiful is broadening the scope of cultural appreciation and reviving the idea that a graphic tee can be one of the most directional and effective means of self-expression.
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