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  • khan delin

Hysteric Glamour: Japan's Original Streetwear Brand


hysteric glamour, nobuhiko kitamura, editorial, harajuku, fashion, archive fashion, archive, scans


In this original editorial, styled by @con.tumacy and shot by @tilldeathdoyoupart, we explore some of the many important themes of the Hysteric Glamour brand, playfully juxtaposing ideas of war and peace. Inspired by the anti-war protests of the 1960’s, the clothing plays into two opposite character tropes that could be seen at the time. The peaceful hippy makes daisy chains, wears flared jeans, and bright colors all while the war-torn soldier, forced to fight because of the draft, decorates their helmet and uniform in little ways that give them a sense of personality and remind them of home. Looking through some of the scanned advertisements and editorials from Hysteric Glamour we have included, it is easy to see that this editorial evokes many of the same themes and concepts.





“I liked bands and rock, so I imagined Patti Smith's hysterical stage presence and Blondie's Deborah Harry's glamorous feeling, so I thought that Hysteric Glamour would be okay…”



When looking back at the wave of Japanese fashion and streetwear brands, Hysteric Glamour is never forgotten, yet in my opinion it definitely does not get the recognition it deserves. Hysteric Glamour holds a special place in the Japanese fashion world as it is not in the same categories as designers like Issey Miyake or Rei Kawakubo, yet it paved the way for household names like Hiroshi Fujiwara and Nigo. The brand's designer and founder, Nobuhiko Kitamura, was very intrigued by many aspects of 60’s and 70’s American cultural exports like cars, pornography, and pop art as well as events such as the summer of love, hippie movement, and the anti-war protests for Vietnam. During the mid to late 1980’s, Japan was flourishing in its economic bubble period which inspired and allowed many young people like Kitamura to start their own brands and companies.





Hysteric Glamour was truly one of the first streetwear brands out of Japan, blending creative execution with a wide visual vocabulary which inspired future generations of designers in the process. While Stüssy was founded in 1980, the brand hadn’t gained widespread popularity in Japan until much later. As a young man, Kitamura was a big fan of music and would often go to small record stores in Tokyo to find rare imported American new wave vinyl records and soon became intrigued by the graphics and designs of many of the record sleeves. According to an interview with Dayz Archives, it was on one of his record collection expeditions in 1981, he came across a poster for Tokyo Mode Gakuen Fashion School and decided to enroll. During his time there he noticed all of his classmates were wearing the latest from Yohji Yamamoto, Comme Des Garçons, and Issey Miyake, most of which had already moved their operations to Paris. Kitamura respected these designers but didn’t want to dress like everyone else and found more inspiration from vintage clothing and mass media.





After graduating in 1984, he began working for the Japanese brand Ozone Community which focused more on everyday clothing rather than avant-garde designs like some of the other Japanese designers at the time. Kitamura expanded on how he came up with the name Hysteric Glamour in an interview with EmptyRoom: “I liked bands and rock, so I imagined Patti Smith's hysterical stage presence and Blondie's Deborah Harry's glamorous feeling, so I thought that Hysteric Glamour would be okay…” In June of 1984, at just 21 years of age, Kitamura decided to launch Hysteric Glamour under the umbrella of Ozone Community and by July the brand already had a buzz. After his first exhibition, the editor in chief of Olive magazine approached him asking if they could borrow some samples for an upcoming shoot in Paris. The clothes had an honest and unique feeling to them which drew people to the brand as a way to stick out from the rest of the crowd.



"The brand was soon to be seen on a number of celebrities and pop culture figures including Kurt Cobain who wore the Sonic Youth tee during his final performance in Munich, Germany in 1994."



While designers like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto had gone a more commercial route and moved out of Tokyo into the world of ‘high fashion,’ Nobuhiko knew he did not want to go this route. He wanted to appeal to people like him who shopped at thrift stores and listened to punk music. Hysteric Glamour was often produced in house which kept the prices down and allowed more people to afford it. Just as Stüssy was starting to appear in Japan, Hysteric Glamour opened their first US storefront in the late 1980’s in New York’s Greenwich Village. While this first store in New York only lasted two years, it was long enough to gain attention among celebrities such as Keith Haring, Iggy Pop, and Primal Scream. In 1991, Hysteric Glamour opened the first store in London after befriending Michael Kopelman of the British streetwear brand Gimme5.





This newfound recognition around the world brought many opportunities for collaboration, the first of which was merch for Sonic Youth. This was a perfect match as the Hysteric Glamour look was closely aligned with the style and sound of the grunge music movement that was gaining immense popularity at the time. The brand was soon to be seen on a number of celebrities and pop culture figures including Kurt Cobain who wore the Sonic Youth tee during his final performance in Munich, Germany in 1994. Hysteric Glamour was adopted by the in-the-know crowd in the grunge and underground music scenes, becoming a discreet status symbol for outcast kids and their musician idols.





Hysteric Glamour has also done a number of artist collaborations which has allowed Kitamura to tap into his passion for the arts. In 1993, the brand released a series of collaborative art books with names like Nobuyoshi Araki, Terry Richardson, Daido Moriyama, Rita Ackerman, and Russ Meyers. Kitamura has also done clothing collaborations and projects with Andy Warhol, Frank Kozik, Perks And Mini, and many more throughout the years. In 2003, he even made a brief cameo appearance in Sofia Coppola’s cult classic film, “Lost In Translation,” with some of the scenes in the film being inspired by her nights out partying with Kitamura in Tokyo. Despite being around for decades now and finding its way into the mainstream with collaborations with brands like Supreme and Kiko Kostandinov, Hysteric Glamour has stayed true to its original fans and niche underground roots, often reusing and reprocessing old graphics that have stood the test of time.





Writer: Khan Delin

Photography & Art Direction: @tilldeathdoyoupart

Styling: @con.tumacy

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