HYSTERIC GLAMOUR instantly calls to mind one vivid musical memory:
‘My boyfriend bought me a Hysteric Glamour shirt; they’re hard to find in the states, got me feeling couture…’
Quoting early-2000s Gwen Stefani lyrics (from memory) isn’t something I’d expected to do in my work for OTAQUEST, but this may be the only time it’s appropriate. SUPER LOVERS and A Bathing Ape also made appearances in her 2004 track ‘Harajuku Girls,’ piquing the curiosity of young western fashionistas. But Hysteric Glamour (or, at least, its creator) already had deep roots in the west, drawing on a mix of rock-and-roll sensibility and pop culture simplicity to create an unforgettable brand still selling after 36 years.
Now, decades after some rando in a New York club was spotted wearing the brand by none other than Andy Warhol, heads are still turning. The fashion-scape has changed, with more and more street brands pivoting into louder and louder designs, but Hysteric Glamour is the grandfather of anti-fashion, and consumers continue to pay homage accordingly.
Counter Cultures Before Counter Culture
Being anti-fashion is almost expected when it comes to the image of Japanese streetwear, but HYSTERIC GLAMOUR was one of the pioneers of such an outlandish concept. The brand was created by Nobuhiko Kitamura as the perfect antithesis to the strict rulings of school and work. When still young, he became enamored with the danger and mystique of western punk and new wave. Blending these passions into his designs, Kitamura came out of fashion school with one goal; to give people what they wanted in the early 80s: rebellion and revolution.
The brand is known worldwide for its loud graphics, offensive slogans, and its odes to comic books and hippie culture. They put patched leather jackets and neon-blended pop T-shirts into the hands of whoever is ready to make a statement. And over the years, that made quite the splash: Kitamura ended up hanging out with everyone from Iggy Pop to Sofia Coppola. Sure, HYSTERIC GLAMOUR may still hold a kind of obsessive mystery (after all, it’s tough to find in the states, as Gwen crooned) but it’s had more of an impact than many recognize.
The reason the brand is still prominent in the Tokyo fashion-scape? Collaborations. HYSTERIC GLAMOUR does them right and does them often.
HYSTERIC GLAMOUR & Supreme?
A visually loud and aggressive label like HG deserves an equally loud and notable partner. In 2013, Playboy came into the picture, and the two went on to create a retro line for men and women alike. Featuring vintage images of the quintessential Playboy Bunnies and classic iconography, the line celebrated 60 years of the magazine. It was launched in Japan before becoming available online for those living in the United States.
For Fashion Week 2017, HYSTERIC GLAMOUR collaborated with Supreme, the massive global brand, for a limited time, releasing everything from belts and beanies to hoodies and duvets. In recent years, Supreme has become a kind of status symbol for YouTube stars and celebrities alike, and was recently sold for around $2.1 billion. This was no small shakeup: it put HYSTERIC GLAMOUR back into the western eye.
And that’s not all. From a much sought-after T-shirt collab with UNDERCOVER to some pretty flashy letterman jackets with music and arts label tokyovitamin, there’s no telling where HG will show up. That’s half the fun.
Sure, these collaborations keep the brand relevant, but that’s not all. With each project, HYSTERIC GLAMOUR reinvents themselves for a new demographic. While the overall feel of their pieces remains the same, the flare they gain from budding and established creators alike gives them an edge on the market. They blend the familiar with the modern, and they have the uncanny ability to mix the message of anti-fashion with the most fashionable and recognizable brands imaginable.
The Future of HYSTERIC GLAMOUR
To break the bad news, no, there are no brick-and-mortar HYSTERIC GLAMOUR shops in the United States. That’s a travesty, but in 2020, it’s all about online shopping, anyway. We’d heartily recommend a proxy service. Finding a storefront on a trip to Japan, however, will be easy enough: you’ve got about fifty to choose from.
Given how this year has gone, we have a feeling that the creative juices will definitely be flowing, and HG will have PLENTY to say on any upcoming graphic tees or accessories they release. After a Supreme collaboration, the sky’s the limit. How about taking things one ridiculous step further and taking anti-fashion to the high-fashion world? What about HYSTERIC Gucci?