Anime Streetwear: It’s for the CultureJanuary 24, 2022
Anime Streetwear: It’s For The Culture
In the 2010s, a new wave of fashion began to surface from the underground nerd and blerd scene. This style of apparel would combine vibrant prints, striking graphics, and supreme Japanese art, paying homage to an art style that has influenced the arts and culture for decades: anime streetwear.
According to complex.com, one of the first appearances of anime in streetwear came from the 90s skating scene in Cali. “The first notable crossover between anime and streetwear came back in the ’90s when artist Jeremy Klein put Hentai-style drawings of [a] women’s body on Hook-Ups’ skate decks.”. Later, anime fans would be treated to crossovers from some of the biggest names in urban wear, such as Bape X One Piece, Supreme X Akira, Adidas X Dragonball Z, and Air Jordan X Slam Dunk. Although anime collaborations can be found throughout fashion history, it wasn’t until recently that we began to see streetwear brands whose entire collections were centered around Japanese animation.
Before anime streetwear was introduced to U.S. mass markets, anime fans were given limited options and would have to seek anime apparel through specialty shops like Hot Topic, custom sites like Etsy.com, or try their luck at their local department store. Although licensed anime memorabilia was available, there was a desire for something more fashionable as Agustin Yujin, founder of anime apparel brand Yujin, articulates, “We were tired of seeing only regular designs, and couldn’t find a place to buy some fashionable Anime Streetwear clothing, so we thought: Why not? Maybe someone like you shares our passion for the culture.”
Anime streetwear combines the high-quality flair of casual streetwear with the passion of anime fandom. It was born from the hearts of fans of the Japanese art style who didn’t feel like their love of anime culture was adequately represented in fashion and decided to take matters into their own hands. “As years went on, I kept wishing that there was a tasteful clothing brand that represented this part of me. A brand that celebrated the beauty of the art, culture, and styles born from manga, but there was nothing. Nothing I would be proud of wearing, at least, not for a long time.”- Wesley Zhang, CEO of anime streetwear brand Bibi Sama.
Anime streetwear has come a long way, expanding from the basic selection of graphic tees and hoodies to premium sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, denim jackets, varsity jackets, and more. Brands like Kaomoji, a Netherlands-based brand that has been slaying anime streetwear since 2015, have taken it a step further with their eye-catching accessories and decorative face masks.
Collaborations are crucial in the anime streetwear community; brands often partner with independent artists worldwide to achieve high-quality anime aesthetics. It’s not uncommon to see collaborations among streetwear brands and popular anime franchises who join forces to produce official licensed products for the culture, such as Hypland’s recent collaboration with Naruto.
Wearing anime apparel isn’t just trendy; it’s an identifier. It unites a subgroup of people and grants them something they’ve been missing in pop culture all along: a sense of belonging.
Considering the magnitude of Otaku culture, it won’t be long before we’re introduced to more anime-themed designers, trends, and brands. For now, you can check these brands out at their online stores, on social media, or at your local anime conventions.
Check out the amazing anime designs in the Winter Issue of Soul and Salsa Magazine.