Mastermind Japan

The punk inspired line has gained cult status around the world, focussing on promoting high quality product whilst maintaining low media status.

Founder: Masaaki Honma
Founded: 1997
Location: Tokyo, Japan

About Mastermind Japan

Masaaki Honma worked with Yohji Yamamoto for eight years before launching Mastermind Japan in 1997, with their first menswear show taking place in 1999 at Tokyo Fashion Week. Maintaining punk imagery, the brand focuses on creating items of “Street fashion with traditional Japanese Craftsmanship” according to Honma. This directional choice feeds from the avant-garde style which Honma picked up at Yohji Yamamoto throughout the 1990’s, where along with others such as Maison Martin Margiela, Yohji was famed for its deconstructionism. The innovative nature of Honma has cemented a skull and crossbones logo for the brand, a reference not only to the rockabilly influenced Japanese youth which he was part of, but also to the other streetwear brands such as Neighbourhood which were launched at the same time. Therefore, Honma appears to be somewhat humorous in his approach to design, suggesting that the underground culture which streetwear brands try to create should not be as ‘inaccessible’ as they are. Rather Honman suggests the style should be taken into the territory of high end fashion – a statement which becomes ever clearer with t-shirts beginning at $300. Products, like the brand, have been keen to remain understated, with lines of accessories such as tie pins and rings, which whilst prompting the logo, have not been outlandish statement pieces. This has led many to liken to the brand to world renowned fashion houses such as Hermes and Bottega Veneta, and has also gained fans such as Karl Lagerfeld, demonstrating the reach the brand has at the pinnacle of fashion. In 2006 Honma stated “If given a thousand dollars, a young Japanese consumer wouldn’t spend it on a big, brand-name item. They would go for quality stuff with no logo” a sentiment which the brand has been quick to follow through its collaborations. Whilst partners have been limited, they have been of the highest quality, in Visvim and Goyard to name only two. This again demonstrates how the brand focuses on high quality without large statements, and also demonstrates how they aim to cross the divide between streetwear and luxury fashion, as referenced above. This has also been a way for the brand to promote its name outside of Japan, without changing its low media profile, crucial to its allure. Mastermind Spring/Summer collection entitled ‘Timeless’ is regarded as a 10th anniversary collection for the brand which now shows capsule collections in Paris. Featuring heritage pieces such as leather jackets and washed denim shirts, Honma appears to be making reference once again to the abundance of ‘disposable’ streetwear brands which appear in the contemporary market. Theses pieces appear to suggest that the quality will speak for itself in their clothes, ultimately meaning the brand will far out-live its creative competitors. With womenswear collections now under creation, future projects look promising for a brand which is reaching an ever-increasing market.