To become an icon takes equal parts. Equal parts hard work, seizing windows of opportunity, providing the persona and putting forth a superior product. It is much easier said than done. That is why Kenzo Takada and Tomoaki Nagoa tower above your everyday fashion designer. These men break the mold and accept no substitutes when it comes to putting forth quality garments.
Becoming a Savoir-Faire
Kenzo and Nigo both attended Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, Japan. Kenzo was the first male student admitted while Nigo claims the experience was useless (besides acquaintance made with UNDERCOVER founder Jun Takahashi)
Each of these men redefined the parameters of fashion and it is impossible to place either of them in any specific category due to their ultimate versatility.
Kenzo was known for his magnificent smile and ability to light up a room with vibrance and spontaneity. Nigo often played the background and only speaks English through a translator. Each of these characteristics played a role in their designs as Nigo went heavy with the distinct Bathing Ape camou for the inconspicuous wearer and Kenzo put forth floral, pret-a-porter signature touches.
Both Kenzo and Nigo share quite the affinity for animals. The Kenzo Tiger and Bathing Ape Shark are both staples within worldwide fashion. Nigo absorbed massive influence from the “Planet of the Apes” franchise while Kenzo would throw circus-type shows where he would make a grand entrance upon an elephant.
Kenzo received startup funds from the 1964 Olympic Games as they needed his land to host the ceremony. Nigo downsized from 40 stores to merely one flagship store in Tokyo to ratchet up demand through a deliberate policy of scarcity. The exclusivity factor cannot be undermined when it comes to garments from either of these men.
Covetable, Original, Enduring Designs
Kenzo’s Jungle Jap store in Gallery Vivienne received backlash from the Japanese Citizens League. The Supreme Court ruled in Kenzo’s favor which allowed him to keep the trademark for Jungle Jap.
Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy bought Kenzo out in 1993. Kenzo passed away from COVID complications in October 2020. Just last month, Nigo became the creative director of Kenzo and will heavily influence any ensembles set to release.
“I think he will bring a jolt to the brand”Sidney Toledano, Chairman/CEO [LVMH Fashion Group]