Quality will never go out of style or get lost in translation.
Trends may come and go, fashion may vary from generation to generation and culture to culture, but quality is universal. It transcends time and place.
Yet, while something can often be agreed upon and heralded as “high quality” or condemned as “poor quality,” there are no set specifications, no criteria, no rating system, nor categorical hierarchy to compare the quality of one thing against another. It’s like US Supreme Court Justice Stewart famously put it when trying to describe hardcore pornography in the Jacobellis v. Ohio obscenity case. “I know it when I see it,” he said. And so it is with quality. You know it when you see it, and in this case, you also know it when you feel it.
When it comes to fashion, quality runs the gamut, and the industry offers up a little something for everyone. Unfortunately the biggest culprits and worst offenders in quality control tend to be streetwear companies. Fly-by-night brands tend to pride themselves on ideas and attitude while quality materials and precision craftsmanship are sacrificed along the way.
In the fashion industry, the Japanese have earned a reputation for being the pinnacle of greatness, the standard to which all others measure their output. Tokyo’s Neighborhood label follows in this tradition and puts their brand of streetwear on a worldly pedestal.
Takizawa Shinsuke’s elevated streetwear brand was conceived back in 1994. Built upon his love of motorcycles and conceptualized for its corresponding subculture, the Neighborhood label not only embodies the obvious essence of cool that comes hand-in-hand with bike culture, but it also adopts the general gearhead philosophy that a well-built and well-maintained machine will perform better, last longer and bring greater joy to its owner. Seeing as the same could be said about the quality of any product, Shinsuke applied that mentality to his fashion label.
Superior quality has always been at the forefront of Shinsuke’s vision. And since the brand’s inception, he has worn that ideal proudly on his sleeve, as the saying goes. And, in this case, also on the tag, where the words “Craft with Pride” are stitched... and of course on the fronts and backs of his hoodies and shirts where the phrases “From 1994 Until Today. Strength and Loyalty” are emblazoned.
While the influence of motorcycle culture remains apparent in Neighborhood’s newest designs, the label’s latest offerings seem far more inspired by specialized workwear that has been proven, tried-and-true, to withstand the elements in their respective fields. Military, hazmat, reflective safety vests, tactical riot garb and traditional work gear all make their way into Neighborhood’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection. It’s not that they hope you’ll need it when the shit goes down, it’s more so that each of these styles has proven to hold up under extreme conditions. And these days, everyday life can end up being an extreme condition.
While Neighborhood’s stylish utilitarianism can seem daunting at times, the brand maintains a delicate balance in its overall portfolio through occasional whimsicality and constant reinterpretations of old classics. Their individually dyed hoodies show a playful originality, giving each piece that one-of-a-kind look originality in what could just as well have been the rehashing of a common sweatshirt. Their patchwork pants would be more at home in a textile museum than the parking lot at a hippie festival. Theirs is a celebration of fabrics, textures, construction and presentation.
Long known for their distressed denim, this season’s jean jacket is that perfect shade of worn indigo.
Long known for their distressed denim, this season’s jean jacket is that perfect shade of worn indigo. In this case the word “distressed,” means strategically aged, not ruined or pre-destroyed like current fashion trends have redefined the term. Paint, oil, drip marks and painstaking maturing methods give this high grade 14oz denim a stunning blue hue while adding a sentiment of sabi (the Japanese aesthetic quality that finds beauty in age and imperfection) to the style.
Bold t-shirt designs leave you begging to be let in on the esoteric references contained within, and finally workwear that can stand up to actual work. While at this point military gear has become accepted universally as casual anytime wear, Neighborhood takes their latest line of soldier garb one provocative step further. Yes, they’re accentuated with camouflage, but not the kind you’d expect. Neighborhood’s tactical gear is redone in hunter’s camo. Given this juxtaposition, you may be led to believe there’s some greater socio-political statement about the status quo at work here. But we don’t want to speak for Shinsuke Takizawa. He wouldn’t want that. All we can do is speak of the quality of his clothing.