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NIGO’s era of KENZO is all about reviving house themes

NIGO has long been a household name in the street style world. Since joining KENZO in 2021, the legendary design pioneer has continued to solidify himself as one of the most notorious figures in Japanese fashion. NIGO’s name is now synonymous with streetwear and culture and it’s evident that its influence extends worldwide.

With KENZO, he is able to leave an indelible mark on the fashion world with his irreverent style. In recent seasons, NIGO has reinvented the legendary Parisian fashion house and asserted itself as a visionary for the modern KENZO label. Following the passing of Kenzo Takada, the brand’s founder, in 2020, NIGO is even more aware of its position in the house, understanding the importance of heritage and the need to balance tradition and contemporary trends. When it comes to creating buzz and staying relevant, NIGO is one of the few that springs to mind in this modern space that combines streetwear and luxury. NIGO takes the House’s signature motifs and reinvents the KENZO mentality through its extensive knowledge and experience in the sector.

In an exclusive chat with Hypebeast, we delve deeper into defining Nigo’s ambitions for the luxury brand and get a broader picture of how the Japanese designer is evolving streetwear culture under the guise of KENZO. By contemplating the past and peeking into the vintage archives and earlier fashion eras that inspired NIGO’s current collections for the house, the interview will give fans a new understanding of the intent behind his designs and an exclusive look at the craftsmanship and vision give what’s behind lifted KENZO into the modern world.

Hypebeast: Kenzo Takada was among the designers who experienced a major fashion boom in Japan in the 1980s. How has his work influenced you as a designer, and do you remember your first memory of discovering KENZO?

NIGO: That’s when I first became interested in fashion – in the 80s. The direct current [designer & character] Brands made an impact around the world. I think it was the first time in Japanese fashion. KENZO was in this wave – one of the most famous and recognizable brands. So I was very aware of the brand even though I was a kid and couldn’t afford to buy something like that. But I used to go to the shops a lot to look at the clothes.

Why is it so important for you to draw on archives and vintage pieces to inform current collections?

First, [it is] to get to know KENZO. KENZO should be nothing but KENZO. My mission is to make KENZO clothes, not create my own work. This is how Kenzo Takada will live on.

The floral patterns are the focus [because] this is the expression of KENZO style.

When it comes to deconstructing and reconstructing the iconography of the house designed by Takada himself, what aspects allow you to appreciate KENZO’s real-to-wear ethos?

What sparked our first interest in fashion when we were young? This collection is an attempt to answer that question. Real-to-wear is the true essence of fashion. For me it’s only exciting when the clothes have a real life in the city streets.

How would you describe today’s intersection between
Streetwear and luxury fashion? You also once said that streetwear is “a rebellion against luxury fashion”. Does that still apply when you get inspiration for KENZO?

[Streetwear and luxury fashion] eventually met when it was appropriate for them to meet. As for the rebellion against luxury fashion, it’s over. We have entered an era of coexistence.

You are a longtime friend of the late Virgil Abloh, known for collaborating with various artists at Louis Vuitton, bringing together luxury worlds and other art mediums. How do you feel about collaborating when it comes to luxury fashion? Will we see any from KENZO in the future?

Virgil’s way of working has now become the norm.

In a way, my work on KENZO itself is a kind of collaboration. I don’t feel the need for a third party. Isn’t that the way to the next fashion?

After a year, you seem just getting started. Any preview notes to share with us about your next collection?

The next show will take place in January – then everything will be revealed!

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