Introducing: Needles SS21

Introducing: Needles SS21
Introducing: Needles SS21

Introducing: Needles SS21

by Ansel Swindells

Needles’ popularity has been boosted by its celebrity clientele in the last few years, and a famed collaboration with A$AP Rocky’s AWGE in 2018 has really helped in pushing the label beyond the fashion cognoscenti and into the limelight. The Tokyo-based label has been around since 1997, however, and although these days it’s most commonly known for its trackpants and Rebuild flannel shirts, Needles lore will tell you that it all started with a suit jacket inspired by a photo of Miles Davis.

Needles | Couverture & The Garbstore

The oft-mentioned suit jacket was the brainchild of Keizo Shimizu, a graduate of Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College who’d set up Nepenthes—originally a select shop—in 1988. Influenced by the legendary Made in U.S.A. catalogue of 1975, Shimizu established Nepenthes for the sole purpose of selling US-made products in Japan. When US imports became less of a novelty, however, Shimizu founded Nepenthes’ first in-house label, Needles, in order to set his store apart from the rest. Its success soon surpassed that of the imports and other Nepenthes labels eventually followed, most notably Daiki Suzuki’s Engineered Garments.

Shimizu’s unique take on Americana and the made-in-Japan cachet are perhaps just two reasons why Needles continues to captivate so many. The most iconic of Shimizu’s creations is undoubtedly the Needles track pant, a luxe piece of loungewear that’s become even more covetable in recent times now that working from home is de rigueur. Few trackpants can take you from the couch to the shops with as much comfort and style as one by Needles, and the label’s signature ‘Papillon’ insignia (so-called because of Steve McQueen’s butterfly tattoo in the film Papillon) is sure to be clocked by fellow garb enthusiasts when you’re out and about.

Needles | Couverture & The Garbstore

Another one of Needles’ greatest hits is the Rebuild flannel shirt. Part of the Rebuild by Needles collection, which launched in 2012, the shirts are upcycled from vintage plaid flannel shirts, so no two of them are ever the same. Comparisons are often made to the grunge style popularised by Kurt Cobain in the ‘90s, and some higher-minded folk even associate them with avant-garde art. Whichever way you view them, these have been known to sell like hot cakes, as have the trackpants, so it’s eyes down and fingers at the ready for these. Fresh in from Japan, you can snap up the Needles SS21 collection here: