Sophnet is a Japanese clothing brand designed and created by Hirofumi Kiyonaga. The brand is one of three brands operated and designed by Kiyonaga and represents a middle ground for the more casual FCRB and refined Uniform Experiment lines. Examples from Sophnet collections include knits and polos, a middling ground between casual wear and sophistication.
Sophnet was created as one of Kiyonaga’s earlier labels and has earned him the most acclaim as a result. The brand first launched in 1998, and has been a highly regarded fashion line in Japan ever since, bridging the seeming divide between the streetwear lines like A Bathing Ape and upper scale lines like Issey Miyake and the wide variety of clothing either offers.
After creating Sophnet, Kiyonaga went on to create a second line of casual clothing in FCRB consisting of simple T-shirts and garments without the limitations that his Sophnet line holds in distribution and availability. In February of 2008, Kiyonaga unveiled his newest project, the Uniform Experiment line – a collection developed and produced with Hiroshi Fujiwara, a instrumental member of the youth movement of the 1980s and mid-1990s who helped to form the Harajuku fashion movement and define the trends and fashion of an entire generation. The new line features an array of clothing for the professional male, including suits and ties that conform to the aesthetics of what both Kiyonaga and Fujiwara experienced and helped create in Harajuku street culture.
The products in the Sophnet line are usually typified by fine art prints screened on to crew neck t-shirts with a distinct and overt connection between the art of the print and the shirt itself. Kiyonaga frequently works with artists from around the world, as far as Chicago, Sweden, or Brazil, to find artists that can produce art work for the shirts. Some of the artists to have worked with Kiyonaga include Massive Attack’s 3-D, Tatsuo Miyajima and Dzine.
Kiyonaga maintains a very strict policy about the availability and sales of his garments. He limits all products in the Sophnet line to sales in Japan to maintain their exclusivity, in one of the labels’ three flagship stores and varied small retail locations. The products that are not sold within the first two weeks of their release are destroyed, not made available online or in any other manner.