Jun Takahashi’s Undercover roams the border between Japanese street culture and Parisian high fashion, nowhere is this more prevalent than in his treatment of the humble denim jean.
Slim cuts and extreme distressing characterise UNDERCOVER’s denim, lending itself to the punk-inspired Japanese Ura-Hara street style to which Jun Takahashi belongs, and helped to pioneer. Jeans have been a staple of the brand season by season since its inception in 1990.
UNDERCOVER 68 DENIM
UNDERCOVER’s 68 Cut Jean debuted on the Autumn Winter 2004 runway in Paris, a collection Jun Takahashi named ‘BB Part Parasitic, Part Stuffed’. Horizontal tears repaired with sashiko, a back pocket removed, and Takahashi’s embroidered lightning bolt motif (Taken from Punk musician and artist Patti Smith) are prominent details. A thick line of red yarn on the knee is the most recognisable feature, which would be replaced with different colours throughout the years. The 68 Cut derives its name from the Jeans’ original retail price of 68 dollars.
UNDERCOVER 85 DENIM
The 85 Cut Jean was introduced for ‘Arts & Crafts’, UNDERCOVER’s Autumn Winter 2005 collection. A slim straight cut with extensive sashiko repair, the 85 Cut takes its style and its name from a sub-genre of Punk called ‘Crust Punk’, a continuation of Anarcho and Hardcore Punk, which emphasised dirt, grime and repair as anti-establishment. It is widely reported that Crust Punk emerged in 1985, hence the name of the jeans.
UNDERCOVER SCAB DENIM
Jun Takahashi’s Spring Summer 2003 collection was UNDERCOVER’s Paris fashion week debut. The collection title ‘Scab’ accurately describes the style of the season's denim which is covered in scab-like patchwork. In an interview with the Japanese magazine ‘Relax’, Takahashi said that he was moving away from Crust Punk for this collection, but that the spirit of the subgenre remained, which we can definitely see in his patchwork jeans.
‘T (To the Universe)’ BAND DENIM
UNDERCOVER’s Spring Summer 2006 collection: ‘T (To the Universe)’, saw the creation of the Klaus Flared Jeans and the Chuuut straight leg Jeans. The collection hinged on the invention of five fictitious bands, for which merchandise and subcultural clothing were designed. Jun Takahashi’s love for music greatly inspired UNDERCOVER, he performed in a tribute band named ‘The Tokyo Sex Pistols’, and the iconoclast Vivienne Westwood was an icon of his.
UNDERCOVER HYBRID JEANS
Jun Takahashi isn’t one to avoid shaking up our preconceptions of garment categories. UNDERCOVER’s selection of jean hybrids is an example of the designer's playful approach to wardrobe staples.
For the Autumn Winter 2002 ‘Witch’s Cell Division’ collection, Takahashi presented jeans amalgamated with sweatpants on the reverse side, finished with university-style insignia. The Autumn Winter 2003 collection ‘Paperdoll’ also saw hybrid sweatpant jeans, and Autumn Winter 2010 fused military cargos with denim.
Spring Summer 2012’s ‘Open String’ collection saw Jun Takahashi layer flannel shirt material through the pocket lining of UNDERCOVER’s jeans for the season, protruding around the back as though a shirt tied nonchalantly around the waist.