A few staple pieces pervade Needles' seasonal collections, but none are as important as its signature track pants, a timeless classic of contemporary Japanese streetwear. Keizo Shimizu, the man who oversees Needles and parent company Nepenthes, explores the garments' origins for the first time in a lengthy interview with the Japanese Nepenthes website, thankfully translated into English.

Shimizu founded Needles in 1995, seven years after he launched Nepenthes. It took a decade and change for Shimizu to realize Needles' first track pants in 2008, having absorbed influences from vintage sportswear, American films, and like-minded labels like COMME des GARÇONS. The debut model was surprisingly similar to Needles' contemporary versions: a washable, shape-retaining polyester or velour body finished with five stripes and the butterfly branding, named for and inspired by Papillon.

Design cues came primarily from the [adidas] ATP tracksuits that Shimizu wore as a Phys Ed. student. "I liked the daring approach of increasing the number of stripes from three to five," Shimizu said. "We develop exclusive fabrics for every collection, and I try not to use the same color scheme. ... Though I’ve used our signature color combination of black and purple a few times, the actual color of each black fabric is slightly different, while the purple shades of the fabric tapes also vary from violet to reddish ones."

The Needles track pants were love at first sight for Shimizu, but not so much for buyers. The track suit launch was "was actually terrible," Shimizu laughed. Regardless, he continued wearing them, and Japanese customers followed suit. Eventually, Needles' track pants received international acclaim thanks to tastemakers like A$AP Rocky, whose AWGE co-created its own collaborative Needles track gear several times. Shimizu never sought out these kinds of collaborations himself, though — all the would-be partners come to him first, and he's usually all too happy to oblige.

Even as demand swells for Needles' mohair cardigans and pieced-together shirts, the track pant remains at the foreground of Needles' output. It still inspires various collaborations — even beyond jackets and trousers — and remains key to the brand's output. Even today, it's Shimizu's favorite part of each Needles collection. "I always [design] it first," he said. "It's the core."

What To Read Next

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Thanks to Telfar & Moose Knuckles, Your Y2K Winter Uniform Is Here

    Style
  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Rick Owens & Dr. Martens Made Corsets For Your Calves

    Style
  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Ah Yes, More Tabi Sneakers From Margiela & Reebok

    Sneakers
  • Image on Highsnobiety

    These adidas Shoes Aren’t What They Seem

    Sneakers
  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Swarovski Makes Dr. Martens Sparkle

    Style
  • Image on Highsnobiety

    2022's Most-Searched Skincare Brands Prove the Power of TikTok

*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titelmedia (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titelmedia strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titelmedia has engaged UsableNet Inc, a leading web accessibility consultant to help test, remediate and maintain our Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.