Taishi Nobukuni is a Japanese designer well known for his work with label Takeo Kikuchi. Recently, Nobukuni has started and operated under his own label, Taishi Nobukuni, and produced clothing that reflects his own beliefs and concerns, largely political and ethnic in nature. Integrating the same style of street wear that Nobukuni injected in the Takeo Kikuchi line, Nobukuni’s own line of clothing has been well received by both the Japanese street fashion magazines and the International fashion community.
Taishi Nobukuni was born in 1970 in Kumamoto. Following his education in Japan, Nobukuni moved to the United States in 1991 then to France in 1994 where he worked with John Galliano as a trainer for one year. He moved to the UK in 1995 and spend a year at Central Saint Marint’s where he graduated with a Womenswear MA in 1996.
Following his design education, he started working in the fashion industry more directly, eventually becoming the head designer of Takeo Kikuchi when Kikuchi stepped down in 2003. He worked in this capacity for more than 2 years until he started his own label, Taishi Nobukuni and made his first debut at the Tokyo Collection in 2005. Since 2005, Nobukuni has presented in the Tokyo Collection twice a year and has continually worked to develop his new brand in much the same way he built up the popularity of the once ailing Takeo Kikuchi brand.
The philosophy behind much of Nobukuni’s work is to provide a message that is just as strong if not stronger than the garment carrying it. As was the case with his Botanika brand, a brand that focused on the creation of environmentally friendly clothing, Nobukuni is well known for letting his politics influence his designs. Many of his products are ecologically sound and many more will carry more distinct messages designed to act as a proxy for his outspoken opinions.
In addition to his politically charged brand, Nobukuni produces products that are more in line with the aesthetics of his craft, including hooded coats, and a wide array of men’s and womenswear. However, he still ensures that these products integrate things like organic materials into each garment, holding true to his convictions and his working philosophy.
The shows produced by Taishi Nobukuni are often highly produced and will often work hard to deliver messages from Nobukuni. One such occasion in the Autumn/Winter 2006 Collection during Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo saw the introduction of dogs, sheep, and a falcon to the runway, symbolizing a certain base animal instinct that the particular collection was trying to capture.
Other examples include the complete darkening of the runway with the exception of blacklights to highlight the all black clothing of his models, along with their makeup. Nobukuni’s shows are often a surprise in that it is hard to know what tricks or stunt will be played next.