A firm favourite among the Garbstore team, Kapital has found its niche at the meeting point of convention and experimentation. Boasting the likes of John Mayer and A$AP Rocky within the ranks of its cult following, there's no denying that the label is a go-to for today's trendsetters and tastemakers. But why exactly are its products so highly coveted, and what has led to its status as such a well-regarded label?
Here, we look into the brand’s journey so far, as well as the legacy it continues to build upon.
Having grown exponentially since its inception in the '80s, Kapital has slowly become something of a connoisseur's choice, cultivating a strong presence within the contemporary fashion space. The label's amalgamation of western influences and an experimental, avant-garde approach - inspired by traditional Japanese techniques - has seen it forge a unique personality.
An appreciation for classic Americana forms a key tenet of the brand's identity, with founder Toshikiyo Hirata igniting a passion for American denim while working stateside as a Karate teacher. This would serve as the impetus for his own label, with Hirata soon opening a denim factory in 1984. The following period would see the Kapital brand establish itself, making its home in Japan’s Okayama Prefecture – Kojima, to be precise. This choice would incidentally result in the name choice of Kapital: a subtle nod to the region’s unofficial title of Japan’s denim capital.
Desire For Quality
The brand’s initial period of operation emphasised craftsmanship and traditionalism above all else, with Toshikiyo Hirata ensuring respect for these qualities was deeply engrained in the DNA of Kapital. This served as a vital foundation for what followed, with a desire for quality and a deeply held appreciation of workmanship continuing to be the primary motivations for the brand to this day.
However, the brand’s traditionalist origins began to make way for a bolder, more exploratory approach, with Toshikiyo’s son Kiro taking the reins in 2002. While still honouring the foundations set by his father, the younger Hirata’s love of art and design saw Kapital leaning into a more unique direction. It was following Kiro’s appointment that the brand truly seemed to come into its own, with revitalised energy born from his artistic vision meeting with the legacy of workmanship and heritage set out by his father.
A Fusion Of Ideals
This fusion of ideals has led Kapital clothing to possess a unique mixture of qualities. Recognisable graphic motifs, such as the Kapital Smilie, bandana, and skeleton prints, bring a strong visual identity to the collections, whilst an unmatched sense of quality is instilled through artisanal techniques, such as Sashiko embroidery and Boro patchworking.
Denim has also remained at the heart of the brand, with Kapital jeans still a core component of its offerings. In tandem with this, more heritage-inspired silhouettes, such as the Ring Coat, serve to acutely embody the brand's ‘Japanese-Americana’ design language, combining vintage American military cues with a classic Japanese feel. The Kapital Kountry sub-label also serves as a platform for more niche and unique pieces, specialising in reconstructed and distressed denim with a '70s-inspired aesthetic.
Comprised of various facets, Kapital’s fifteen domestic Japanese stores provide the most coherent insight into its overarching identity, with each location offering a distinctive customer experience and representing specific elements of the brand's personality. Many of these have become must-see destinations that function equally as both exhibits and retail locations.
So now, almost four decades on from its inception, the Kapital brand continues to build on its legacy and remain relevant, not through deliberately seeking acceptance but by offering an incomparable level of quality and uniqueness in its products. Having set a precedent of releasing directional collections that bypass trends in favour of authenticity, we don’t expect Kapital to be going anywhere soon.
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