fragment design's collaborative legacy is so immense that it took Rizzoli two books to encapsulate it all and even then, some zany one-offs probably slipped through the cracks. Its lightning bolt-stamped sneakers are a big part of that history, but Hiroshi Fujiwara's brand has also co-signed some pretty out-there stuff — consider the crystal Be@rbricks and Swiss army knives of years past. But its new fan-infused workwear vest, jointly masterminded by uniform experiment and BURTLE, is definitely one of fragment's weirder projects.
uniform experiment, a brand that Fujiwara co-founded but no longer runs, should be familiar to streetwear aficionados. BURTLE, meanwhile, is more obscure. It's an adorably named company that primarily makes workwear for laborers and was early to the wave of fan-infused garments. See, cooled clothing has been a recent trend in Japan, where workers seeking to minimize summer suffering get outfitted in uniforms suited for sweaty weather — that means lightweight, breathable textiles that wash easily and, in the case of BURTLE, small battery-powered fans inset at the rear of outerwear.
“From about five years ago, every workwear company started making fan-fitted workwear to stop workers from getting heatstroke in the hot sun,” BURTLE CEO Yuichi Osaki told the Japan Times in September 2020. “It became a trend in summer workwear."
Naturally, fragment and ue have been at the forefront of that trend, dropping their second BURTLE collaboration four months before that interview. This third effort is still pretty quirky, but it's probably the best-looking of the bunch, with flight vest inspiration translating to a very techy layering piece. Its black stretch cloth shell is fully breathable, its five pockets are deep enough to stash any daily necessities, and its rear-mounted fan can be adjusted on the fly, powering what SOPH. describes as "the industry's strongest 13V high-performance fan unit."
It still looks more than a little weird (and hopefully it's whisper-quiet), but if it's good enough for warehouse staff, it's gotta be good enough for walking the neighborhood in the summer heat. Either way, the fragment design x uniform experiment x BURTLE vest is likely to sell out when it hits SOPH.'s website, its Japanese boutiques, and uniform experiment stores on May 22.