The 50 Greatest Japanese Brands of All Time

From streetwear sensations to cult fashion legends, these are the best style brands from the Land of the Rising Sun.


Written by James Harris (@Dr_TacoMD)

I only shop in Tokyo. That may be the most pretentious statement I've ever made, but with the opportunity to wander around Shibuya and Harajuku while visiting my Japanese family every year, of course I'm only going to shop in Tokyo.

After the most recent family Christmas trip, I came back to Complex with grail-tales like I had been to El Dorado or The Fountain of Jawn or some other paradise. I was still bleary with jetlag and busy humble-bragging when this assignment was thrown my way, but I realized the first troubling question had already arisen: How to pass off such a subjective list as a definitive one?

The subjectivity of the list isn't due to my amateur knowledge of brands from the Land of the Rising Sun. The reason that ranking Japanese brands is such a subjective exercise is because every designer and consumer in that country is so dedicated to their specific craft that they could give a flying F about where some gawking gaijin would rank them. 

Another concern was the means by which we knew about these brands. Be honest: How many people were truly aware of small and independent Japanese brands before the proliferation of the Internet? Most of the information in this list was dug up from ancient forum threads (going as far back as 2005), and, as a foreign observer, there may be brands that escaped my attention. Feel free to voice your dissent in the comments.

And finally, what even constitutes a Japanese brand? Geography and financial ownership doesn't exactly denote "Japaneseness." Just because a brand like J. Press is owned by a Japanese company doesn't make it any less of an all-American brand. And while Kenzo has been based in Paris since its inception, its signature aesthetic is directly influenced by traditional kimono prints, and head designer Kenzo Takada is a leader of the Japanese creative community living in Paris. Ultimately, I had to go with the decision-maker that any proud American would trust: my gut.

The following list is 50 Japanese brands ranked by their historical significance, contemporary influence, and contributions to style both on the island-nation of Nippon and abroad. From the most fundamental streetwear to labels that changed the entire notion of fashion and clothing, here are The 50 Best Japanese Brands of All Time.

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50. Bounty Hunter

49. Lad Musician

48. Samurai Jeans

47. Satoru Tanaka

46. Needles

45. Kapital

44. waste(twice)


42. John Bull

41. Man of Moods

40. Oscar and Jesus

39. Julius_7

38. Ato Matsumoto

37. Haversack

36. nonnative

35. Head Porter

34. Buzz Rickson's

33. J.S. Homestead

32. Blue Blue Japan

31. The Soloist

30. Hysteric Glamour

29. Uniform Experiment

28. The Viridi-Anne


26. United Arrows

25. 45rpm

24. N.Hoolywood

23. Phenomenon

22. Studio D'Artisan

21. Undercover

20. Beams+

19. nanamica

18. W)Taps

17. Neighborhood

16. Mastermind Japan

15. Good Enough

14. Evisu

13. Kenzo

12. Big John

11. Onitsuka Tiger

10. Uniqlo

9. Visvim


7. Kansai Yamamoto

6. VAN Jacket

5. Junya Watanabe

4. Issey Miyake

3. Yohji Yamamoto

2. A Bathing Ape

1. Comme des Garçons

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