Photography by Joe Harper
Production by Yael Quint
In case you’ve missed the buzz, Tbilisi has been making a major mark on the fashion world. After Demna Gvasalia, after George Keburia’s Instagram-viral sunglasses, and after our story highlighting rising designers last season, you hopefully have some idea of this, but just in case, Hiroshi Fujiwara made an appearance at Georgia’s best shows to show his appreciation for designers’ blossoming creativity. Possessing the support of one of Tokyo’s original street style pioneers, it seems the Eastern European city has nowhere to go but up.
Fujiwara rose to both music and fashion prominence in the 1980s after joining the Harajuku scene. Upon returning from a trip to New York City, his souvenirs were American hip-hop records, which inspired him to start DJing and help to popularize the genre across Japan. The Tokyo cool kid became a remix master, and he soon began making his mark on Ura-Harajuku fashion, starting with his line Goodenough in 1989. The countless collaborations that have followed include work with brands like Nike, Levi’s, and Supreme as well as artists including Takashi Murakami and KAWS, so it’s safe to say the DJ-slash-designer’s reputation as a street style godfather is absolutely rightful. His work with so many collaborators whose influence is integral to street style, as well as his individual efforts in bringing hip-hop culture from New York to Tokyo, has been integral to shaping coolness in Japan and beyond.
Though Fujiwara already has an impressive resume spanning decades of globalization and street style culture, he continues to keep himself busy with a slew of projects. He does much of his work through his label Fragment, which doesn’t actually have its own line but instead functions exclusively in collaboration, with the designer placing this name on pieces he conceptualizes alongside the likes of Undercover, Sacai, and Louis Vuitton. Fujiwara also has been using Fragment to work with Moncler for their Genius series, for which he was heading to Milan following his time in Tbilisi. A lot of secret projects are in the works, so street style fans who want to stay in the know should definitely be watching the Ura-Harajuku godfather closely.
With several decades of influence and so many ongoing projects, it’s needless to say that Fujiwara knows a lot about what makes an up-and-coming brand exciting. The street style pioneer’s presence in Tbilisi only further proves the Georgian city is a rising fashion center to watch, and while he would like to see more men’s collections, he senses much of the same fresh energy he witnessed in Tokyo back in the ‘80s, before most prominent Japanese designers began showing in Paris instead. In conversation with Yael Quint, Fujiwara discussed his favorite rising fashion cities, the promise he sees in Tbilisi, and his range of upcoming projects.
YAEL QUINT: How do you like Tbilisi?
HIROSHI FUJIWARA: I’m really enjoying it. The city provides a good blend of old European wonder and more modern beauty. There’s also a lot of strange beauty here.
YQ: This is your second time here, both for fashion week and visiting the city. What are some of your favorite brands and designers that you have seen?
HF: I like The Situationist. I don't really see so many shows here because it's mainly women's. I wish they had men's fashion week.
YQ: So are there any other designers that you see potential from?
HF: The one I just saw at the museum, Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili, was good. The collection had a kind of international style.
YQ: Can you tell me a bit about your brand and any upcoming collaborations?
HF: I have a kind of brand, Fragment, but it’s not like other brands. I don't make anything. I don't manufacture anything for Fragment. Instead, my team and I go to the brands for the collaborations. Like Undercover, Sacai, Louis Vuitton, and Moncler.
YQ: Are there any new, upcoming collaborations that you're working on right now?
HF: I'm still working for the Moncler [Genius] interpretations. I’m going to Milan next week for that. And I just did Bulgari. And I do have some other projects coming up, but I cannot tell you about them yet! But I have many things going on in Tokyo, basically. Have you been to Tokyo?
YQ: I have never been to Tokyo. I'm dying to go.
HF: I have a concept show called Company, and then we made some t-shirts for collaborations.
YQ: And you do the buying for that as well?
HF: Yeah, not really buying, but designing.
YQ: And what other projects do you have going on in Tokyo that you can speak about?
HF: Not really, but I just did some little things for Sacai. Sacai's doing a tour right now, and I'm working on it.
YQ: Are there any other cities that you want to visit for their fashion weeks?
HF: I'd like to go to Ukraine’s fashion week, in Kiev. I've never been. And Copenhagen's a really good one.
YQ: Copenhagen's really good. Since you've mentioned men's fashion, they have Heliot Emil and J.Lindeberg. I think you would like those brands. They also have Holzweiler, which is originally Norwegian.
HF: Yeah, I've never really been to the area. I've been to Scandinavia two times, but not to the fashion week. I'd like to visit. How about Kiev? Is it good?
YQ: I haven’t been to Kiev. I've heard it's good. For men's fashion, I don't know much there.
HF: Kiev and Georgia, Tbilisi—
YQ: Yeah. Georgia's very on the rise. This is only their fifth season doing this. Five times, that's it. So it's grown.
HF: Do you think it's got potential?
YQ: Yeah! They have every buyer come, like Moda and Net a Porter. Every publication is here, every brand is here, you're here. All the attendees are really strong.
HF: Do you think it's because of Vetements and stuff?
YQ: Yes. And I think a lot of the brands are inspired by him. Do you agree?
HF: Yeah, I think so. But it's good.
YQ: Yeah. You noticed that a lot of the brands are similar in their style. Like the big shoulder pads, the leather, the oversized.
HF: I did. Really a kind of '80s look. The music they're using is like '80s disco-type music.
YQ: Is that something that you liked? Coming from the music world?
HF: I did!
YQ: Do you like the Georgian music and culture?
HF: I don't really know so much about it.
YQ: How about the food?
HF: The food is great. I love Georgian food. I was just at fashion week in Tokyo, also, but I didn’t find it so interesting because all the good designers there are showing in Paris now. From Tokyo. In the '80s, Comme des Garçons and everyone else was showing in Tokyo, but not anymore.
YQ: Do you think that it's still strong without those big designers? Do you think it's the moment of the emerging designers?
HF: The young designers really are still strong. Their moment to succeed is here.