‘’’United Bamboo’’’, the fashion collective developed by Japanese designer Miho Aoki and Vietnamese designer Thuy Pham, is best known for its artistic approach to fashion and cross cultural mashup of mediums in music, fashion, and art.
United Bamboo was founded in 1998 by Miho Aoki (a graduate of the New York Fashion Institute of Technology) and Thuy Pham (studied architecture at Cooper Union). Having worked for Aoki in the past with the Bernadette Corporation, the two decided to start their own fashion collective. Their previous work was largely within the established format of 1990s fashion, while the newly created United Bamboo collective focused more on utilizing the various different aspects of artistic expression in each design.
After its initial launch, United Bamboo developed into a collective of artistic endeavors, with fashion as the core concept behind the designers’ projects. Their appearance in the underground art scene as well as the 2003 launch of the United Accoustic Recording label both display the spread of influence by the label. The first runway appearance by United Bamboo took place in Fall 2004 in New York’s Fashion Week; since then United Bamboo has proceeded to become a regular attendee in many of New York’s regular fashion shows.
The designs of United Bamboo are often the result of community contributions, with multiple artists inputting their ideas. Much of the fashion produced by United Bamboo works in revision of classic American Sportswear and fashion, using subtle alterations and techniques to reinterpret how these styles are viewed. Inventive use of patterns and fabrics in both new and practical manners as well as inventive reapplications of traditional designs has made United Bamboo a favorite in New York. However, designs by United Bamboo are equally popular in their native and original home of Tokyo, Japan where reimagined Western style is becoming ever popular.
In addition to fashion, United Bamboo is known for its creation of the independent music label, United Acoustic Recording. UAR’s first compilation CD featured a collection of experimental music tracks from downtown Tokyo musicians, compiled and organized by Hirsham Baroocha. Additional releases would feature the work of Rusty Santos, Eric Copeland of Black Dice, Panda Bear and Avery Tare of Animal Collective, and Holy Shit. To date both Aoki and Pham are intricately involved in new compilations and releases by UAR as well as multiple underground artistic projects said to have a key role in how they line evolves.
The first United Bamboo storefront location opened in mid-September of 2003 in the heart of Tokyo, Japan and was designed by famed architect, Vito Acconci. The first United Bamboo men’s store was opened 3 years later in September of 2006 in Harajuku.