Nine Inch Nails has been around for decades, quietly and consistently infiltrating pop culture through its members, merch, and lasting music. But, of the many branded T-shirts that the rock band has issued over the years, none are quite as weird as this collaboration its launching with Japanese retailer BIOTOP and fashion brand Comoli.
BIOTOP is an upscale boutique based in Osaka and Fukuoka operated by JUN, a Japanese conglomerate that oversees multinational brands like ADAM ET ROPÉ and Sophnet, country clubs, restaurants, and even the occasional hype-driven project like Hiroshi Fujiwara's THE CONVENI pop-up.
Whereas most of those are mass-market efforts, BIOTOP is uniquely high-end, offering customers curated clothing from visvim, Jil Sander, and SUNSEA, meals at an in-store eatery, and, at some locations, a lush nursery allowing shoppers to purchase a plant.
Occasionally, BIOTOP invites peers to create limited edition merch, like its bespoke line of Hanes basics and the occasional graphic T-shirt from troubled photographer Bruce Weber, who settled a sexual assault lawsuit one year ago.
BIOTOP normally doesn't partner with musicians but it inexplicably brought in Nine Inch Nails for a trio of T-shirts that reference The Downward Spiral and Further Down the Spiral — great albums, to be sure, but way more aggro than the vibe you get from BIOTOP.
We're talking two floors of minimalist furniture, tea, and greenery here.
Then, there's the part that makes this really strange.
Comoli, one of the brands stocked by BIOTOP, is a super low-key label that eschews social media but has no issue selling out of its quietly luxurious shirts and denim jeans season after season; I'm a huge fan.
It doesn't just do away with Instagram — Comoli just doesn't do anything besides make clothes. No press, obtuse lookbooks, and hardly any collaborations besides the occasional alignment with fabric maker Salvatore Piccolo or insulation experts Lavenham.
So, how BIOTOP got stubbornly insular Comoli to agree to a Nine Inch Nails collab, of all things, is beyond my comprehension.
On hand are T-shirts and hoodies cut from Comoli's signature cotton jersey — read: really, really nice — printed with imagery borrowed from Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts, the two albums that NIN released for free during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There's also a shirt printed with an image of NIN frontman Trent Reznor onstage at Woodstock '94 for good measure.
Available on BIOTOP's website October 1 for about $40-$70 apiece, I can't say I have any qualms with the team-up.
Like some other recent Japanese drops, it takes the concept of a merch collab to the next level and pulls Comoli out of its shell, a little.
I just don't know why it exists — NIN's famously aggro tunes seem utterly at odds with BIOTOP's quiet elegance and Comoli's insular existence which is exactly what makes this team-up so weird. But, hey, you can't deny that it looks great.