Ebisu, Tokyo, has been recognized as one of the newest fashion districts in Tokyo. Conveniently located next to Roppongi and Shibuya that are more well-known as mainstream fashion areas, Ebisu is smaller in size and makes for a comfortable atmosphere that also features many quirky restaurants and bars. Together with the trendy neighboring communities of Daikanyama and Hiroo, Ebisu has been developing with high-class boutiques, vintage stores, and flagship shops of Japanese and international brands. For example, Maison Martin Margiela is also a part of Ebisu family. Their first global flagship shop went up in Ebisu, and it’s still there today.
In the last five years, the headquarters and main offices of Japanese fashion brands are gathering in this area. Their growing community has resulted in a new movement creating fresh trends. This community includes new designers who are also musicians, artists, DJ, and models or so-called "creators" in making a new trend. Some people in this subculture call themselves EBISU RENGO which means "Ebisu Unity” or “Team Ebisu."
In particular among the Team Ebisu subculture are outstanding men's designers such as Mastermind (www.mastermindjapan.com), roen (www.roen.jp), attachment, roar, TroisO (www.troiso.jp), and BACKLASH(www.backlash.jp). All designers have backgrounds where they used to work with international brands such as ISSEY MIYAKE. Therefore, they have already proven their ability and skills and know that their sense of designs can meet the requirements to meet the world fashion market.
Among the top signature brands from the Ebisu sector is AYUITE. Designer, Hiroyuki
Obara has been designing his own collection under the concept of a mixture of inspirations from the motorcycle rider, influenced by the spirit of freedom like Native American Indians on horseback riding in a dry desert. The brand name means "Wonderful" and "Best" in Navajo, which is one of the languages of the Native American and extremely difficult to master because of its uniqueness.
His collection is very detailed, and his forms and patterns are so chic. However the colors and finishing are totally vintage and homespun like the Wild West. Obara started his career as a men's designer at ISSAY MIYAKE Design office. He experienced many fashion runways in Milan and Paris. After he became independent and started AYUITE, it wasn’t long before Obara's collection was picked up from Barneys in Japan (www.barneys.co.jp) to Isetan (www.isetan.co.jp) in Japan.
Obara’s collection has been represented by Daniele Ghiselli in Milan (www.ghiselli.com) now for about two years, and you can get his collection at H.MEN—a men's store by H. Lorenzo (www.hlorenzo.com) on Sunset in Los Angeles. AYUITE has been carried by Liberty in UK (www.liberty.co.uk) and other major department stores and high-end boutiques in Europe.
In early October, Obara showed me his new Spring ‘08 collection at his cozy office. For coming spring, AYUITE gets back to its roots: full of motorcycle riders’ ambience and Native American details. The classic 1969 movie "Easy Rider,” gave him ideas of hippy-style, outdoor, vintage, and classic motorcycles.
The most characteristic item from his newest collection is his leather pants. (See picture where Designer Obara is wearing the pants.) It is made by deer skin, and his craftsmanship means he made it 3mm (0.1 inch) thin, with bonded cotton twill in the back of the skin. When you wear it, it feels like denim, but it is actually leather. (The pants retail for 76,000 yen in Japan.)
His work is now evaluated as a world-class designer. Obara always enjoys generating new fabrics and new finishing with his craftsmanship. His clothing has many details, but when you wear it, you feel relaxed. You don't worry about how to wear it. The clothing itself is already neat. So you can feel perfect just wearing it.
Innovators like Obara, coming out of the growing hotspot district of Ebisu, indicate that Japanese men's designers are bringing new ideas, fabrics, and craftsmanship, and invading the world of men's fashion.