Louis Vuitton's forthcoming collaboration with legendary Japanese label fragment design is big news. fragment's founder, Hiroshi Fujiwara, is as OG as it gets in the streetwear scene, and his project with the world's biggest luxury brand is a sign of how truly interconnected — some would say identical — the worlds of streetwear and high fashion are these days.
Japan is a country that's infatuated with Americana, and LV x fragment channels the nation's love of the Stars and Stripes through Hiroshi's finely-tuned streetwear sensibilities. The collab is a quintessentially Japanese vision of preppy American classics, and plays with collegiate-style lettering, nostalgic garments and outrageously luxe fabrications.
To launch the collection, LV and fragment are hosting a series of pop-up stores at high-end retailers across the globe. Last week, Fujiwara took to home turf to kick off proceedings via a temporary shop in Tokyo. A similar space in London's Harrods launched yesterday. What's more, Fujiwara and Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton's Men's Artistic Director, dreamed up an imaginary rock band — appropriately named "Louis V and the Fragments" to herald the release. The pieces they designed together are the fictional band's merchandise and stage outfits.
The pop-up features a facade wall proudly emblazoned with the collection's "Louis Vuitton Forever" motto, with a canvas of the house's monogram welcoming shoppers into the space. Stocked with leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories from the collection, the space also holds some strictly limited pieces that are South Asia-exclusives to Surrender, with the goods coming to New York City on May 3, followed by a wider release in the U.S. on May 5.
To celebrate the store launch, Louis Vuitton invited 400 guests down to the space, and indulged them with a selection of fine cocktails. Mr. Fujiwara — the man himself — graced the event, alongside the usual industry insiders and well-connected types.
"The inspiration of the whole collection came from the Ivy League, a preppy '80s American college theme," Hiroshi explained at the event. "A lot of good American vintage pieces actually can be found in Japan, so everything stemmed from that idea and then from there, it was about giving it a Japanese twist. So the little designs of the Walkman cassette and floppy disk print were things that were inspired from Sony, which I’ve worked with previously and is so iconic of Japan."
"I was very inspired by the dust bag which is a protective covering for Louis Vuitton bags," Fujiwara explained of the Cabas tote bag, one of the many leather accessories in the collection. "I always wondered what you could do with the bag because it is quite quirky and useful. So I thought it was a good idea and I asked Kim, when we were working on the Isetan collection last year...Kim made it into an actual bag for this collection. So in a way it was really a product that was designed by both of us."
"The Rainbow Bandana is actually quite special for me as it has sentimental value," he continued. "It was something I talked about wanting to make together with Kim and Louis Vuitton around the time the POOL Aoyama store opened back in 2014. After three years, we finally made it a reality."
For Jones, the collaboration with fragment was a chance to honor his obsession with streetwear — the LV designer once interned at Gimme 5, the London streetwear institution that introduced Stussy, BAPE and Supreme to the UK. "Hiroshi Fujiwara is an influencer in the truest sense of the word — he is a true icon of mine" Jones commented via the collaboration's official press release. "With this collaboration, I wanted to do something quite unexpected, something perhaps more youthful than what we do. Hiroshi has that understanding of detail that comes from being Japanese — he simply knows everything."
For Hiroshi, it was a chance to indulge his lifelong love of the iconic house. "I have always been a big fan of Louis Vuitton and for me, Louis Vuitton has always been a high-end brand, always something I want to have, I want to get. I’ve also known Kim for a long time, so it was very natural when we started to talk about a collaboration, but it took us three years to finally do something."
"Kim and I always wanted to take the collaboration one step further, the first collection we did was only bags and it was created only for the Japanese market in Isetan Tokyo. So Kim and I started to talk about working on a full collection with clothes and shoes, created and designed from the very beginning and made available to a bigger audience."
Louis Vuitton x fragment design comes at a revolutionary time for streetwear. The genre has been gaining recognition among the high fashion elite for years now, but the unveiling of Supreme x Louis Vuitton back in January obliterated what was remaining of the wall separating the street from the runway. Both Fujiwara and Jones have been instrumental in this cross-cultural pollination.
"I think it was a kind of a breakthrough with what has happened with Louis Vuitton," Fujiwara commented. "In the past, luxury brands and streetwear both had many rules, separate sets of rules. But then Kim opened the door to us, me and James from Supreme and we went into the luxury world and created a sort of anarchy which was very new, broke the stereotypes and created a new movement."
"But streetwear will also grow old — in fact it is getting old — and there will be something new in 5-10 years, whether it is technology or fashion. But I don’t really know what it is and I’m not supposed to know because it will be the young kids these days that will dictate the future trends."
It's not only that cultural mashup that's changing our beloved sub-genre of menswear — social media has had an unprecedented impact on the way we consume fashion. For Fujiwara, one of the last remaining cultures to remain untouched by social media is food — largely because it's one of the few experiences you cannot fully translate digitally.
"Food still fascinates me and I like that it is a new experience for me each time I try something different," he adds. "But I also see similarities that food culture has with street culture in the way that it is evolving, from a very tight, exclusive community that is now opening up to collaborations with wider communities."
The Louis Vuitton x fragment design pop-up runs until May 7, 2017. Be sure to pay the store a visit if you're in the area.
Surrender 268 Orchard Road, #01-03 Singapore 238856
For more Louis V goodness, take a sneak peek at the house's forthcoming collab with legendary artist Jeff Koons.