kappa a four A.Four shauna toohey
Kappa x A.Four x Shauna Toohey

In the final weeks of 2017, Highsnobiety debuted its very-own three-way collaboration with Italian sportswear icon Kappa, and Japan’s A.Four Labs. The three-brand collab reworked the Italian label’s unmistakeable branding in a navy blue, two-piece tracksuit, and now, Kappa and A.Four Labs are back with another three-way project, this time with P.A.M’s Shauna Toohey.

The collection revolves around new interpretations of the Kappa logo, which have been blown up across quarter-zip sweats and hoodies, as well as standout football jerseys that are adorned with upside-down iconography and photoshopped flames.

The collection is out now at Japanese streetwear destination GR8.

A streetwear veteran with a decades-long involvement in the scene, Toohey has seen street culture evolve from a niche subculture into a global phenomenon, and has spent considerable time immersed in Tokyo’s fascinating scene, while P.A.M has transitioned from a local Australian name to a global brand based in Paris. 

Highsnobiety caught up with Toohey in Tokyo to find out more about the collection’s origins, and her thoughts on what streetwear means today.

Kappa x A.Four x Shauna Toohey
Kappa x A.Four x Shauna Toohey

On the origins of A.FOUR LABS x KAPPA × Shauna Toohey:

“The collection is called “Your Total Self.” It’s the idea of thinking about yourself in the world, in a group of people, rather than thinking of yourself as an individual all the time. I like that when you go out dancing with people, you lose yourself and become part of something bigger. I also wanted to remind people to take the pressure off selfie-culture and all the things about “what do I want?” “what do I need?” “me, me, me.”

Kazuki from A.FOUR LABS approached me and asked me to work with him on the collaboration. I guess it’s because I’ve known him for a very long time, like more than 15 years, and I know his work. We worked briefly together on a P.A.M project a long time ago. I was super excited to work with him because he’s a legend in streetwear.”

On Japanese streetwear:

“I’ve been doing this label P.A.M for almost for 20 years. It’s streetwear, and I’m inspired by Japan and I love Japanese streetwear. For 20 years I’ve been watching it and been a part of it. I think American-based streetwear is becoming mainstream, but I still think the Japanese approach is more unique and interesting, from my perspective.”

On where street culture is today:

“Streetwear is changing a lot right now. I’m interested in streetwear because for me, it has a big element of culture in it. It’s not just about “oh, purple is trendy right now so everybody wears purple.” It’s about culture and our commitment to the culture, too. It’s getting so self-obsessed and I think that there’s no joy in that at the end of the day. There’s more joy in being part of a group. I mean, what’s the point of success if you have no one to share with? Or a fantastic meal if you eat by yourself? It’s so much nicer to share with people.

I love KAPPA in that respect because it’s such an iconic brand. You know, you could go to a rave in ’90s where half the crowd was wearing KAPPA, like it’s a part of cult or something. I think it’s a good time to talk about that because maybe it doesn’t make you so happy to think about yourself all the time.

For me, streetwear is about sharing. What P.A.M does is super underground, and KAPPA is mainstream, so this is a chance for me to have a message, to go further and to a bigger audience. I don’t care about 100 people wearing my T-shirt, but 100 people thinking “hey, let’s make a zine together, let’s do a DM chat together, let’s do something together.” That’s what I want to do and that’s what I always love about streetwear. It’s not just clothes. It means something more.”

Kappa x A.Four x Shauna Toohey

On collaborations:

“I think so many collaborations are happening because brands need to make news, so they can be in the public eye all the time. If they make collections two times in a year, they only get to talk about themselves twice. But we have a social responsibility — the world has finite resources, so why do we need to make 50,000 pairs of sneakers in a year? I’d like to stop and really consider what we’re making, to do something special and slow it down.”

On street culture in Paris:

“Paris at the moment, is super exciting like the energy and the city. And actually the street really belongs to the people. People can hang out on the street, even if you see someone smoking weed, police just walk pass. It’s crazy, it’s like NY in ’80s. So many different people, from all different parts of the world. I see all different ways of dressing, I hear all different kind of music. It’s a real melting pot. It really reminds me of NY in ’80s, the energy on the street.”

On the collection’s launch at GR8 in Tokyo:

“GR8 is a big supporter of P.A.M., and [GR8 founder] Kubo is really important in the world right now. What he’s doing isn’t about Tokyo, although his shop is here. It’s global. And he’s influencing the streetwear scene all over the world.”

kappa a four A.Four shauna toohey
Kappa x A.Four x Shauna Toohey

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Words by Alec Leach
Freelance Writer/Editor/Consultant

Alec Leach grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives in Berlin