PHIRE WIRE is the latest brand to enter Tokyo’s streetwear scene. After launching in 2015, its founder – the DJ and designer known as Kiri – is presenting PHIRE WIRE at Paris Fashion Week later this month.
This isn’t KIRI’s first foray into fashion – he’s been a lauded DJ and designer on Tokyo’s underground fashion and music scenes for the last 20 years.
Following in the footsteps of Japan’s streetwear heavyweights, A BATHING APE, UNDERCOVER and Hiroshi Fujiwara, Kiri launched REVOLVER back in 1997. “One of the most important figures during this whole time was SK8THING [of Cav Empt],” Kiri tells Amuse. “All of his works have visionary concepts and timeless designs – I’m still inspired by him and his way of working today.”
Working in fashion and music led to a series of random coincidences and chance encounters for Kiri, like meeting the guys behind the label BMC in Paris, FADE TO MIND in LA, and Lit City Trax and Lord of the Mics in London over the years. “I’m more of a director with a producer-like perspective, which is the reason why collaborating is important for me,” says Kiri.
Collaborations are the foundation of PHIRE WIRE, which Kiri says is meant to express the dark, industrial mood of Yakuza films and the novels of William Burroughs. Collaborating is also something he’s instilled in his team, who come from streetwear brands and rap music alike.
“Some of the team are from ILLDOZER, which was this legendary design team in Tokyo in the 1990s and early 00s. Back then the music scene in Japan was exciting because skate culture was blending with hardcore, punk and hip hop,” he says. “One of the designers at PHIRE WIRE, Keita Ishiguro, was a member this rap group called KIMIDORI. In this way PHIRE WIRE is supported by people with unique backgrounds.”
We caught up with Kiri while he was preparing to head to Paris to find out what he has in store.
You started out in fashion as a designer with your first brand, REVOLVER. How did you make the move into music?
I was DJing and producing events when I started REVOLVER in 1997 as I originally had the same level of interests in music as fashion. So I guess my stance on fashion and music hasn’t really changed because back then all my inspiration for the clothes I was making came from music.
And you’re still DJing and making music today?
I would definitely call it my hobby. I’ve never tried to produce music properly because I’ve always been surrounded by amazing musicians and producers. But in the future I would be down to edit tracks I like and share them with my friends to play in parties.
I am releasing a mixtape though under my name from SOME WARE, which is a label that my friends Cali [Thonhill DeWitt] and Brendan [Fowler] started. It’s going to be quite different from my usual tracks, and more about beautiful songs from Drone, New Age, Ambient and Soul, inspired by my visit to Cali’s studio in LA.
Where’s the best place to hear some new music coming out of Tokyo today?
If you come to BIG LOVE RECORDS in Harajuku you will definitely find something interesting – and you can listen with a nice glass of beer.
What do you like about linking up with other creatives?
It’s purely fun and it’s what motivates me. I feel happy when I create special items, which I want but I’m not able to make by myself. The most important thing for me is to collaborate with people who really trust each other and see eye to eye creatively.
You said that PHIRE WIRE is about blending the ordinary and the unconventional. Can you tell us a bit more about that aspiration?
In a word, it’s to create an elusive mood every season, through the clothes and with the original music and movies I make. For example, for AW16 we made a short film with original music composed by VISIONIST. The film was produced by Keita Ishiguro and Funkin. The SS17 collection is called “TOKYO-BAY II” so the film, created by Georgia, features original music composed by NA from NGUZUNGUZU.
How did your collaboration with Lord of the Mics come about?
I was a big fan of the early days of Grime, with artists such as Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and Roll Deep – and I especially loved Jammer. Jammer and I met in New York, when J-Cush from Lit City Trax introduced us, and then this idea for our collaboration just came up. We both got so excited, and made it happen. It was actually a very smooth collaboration process because he’s really interested in Tokyo’s fashion scene.
Can you tell us about any upcoming collaborations we should look out for?
For SS17 we’ve collaborated with ARMES in Switzerland, Lit City Trax with their new logo designed by SK8THING, and with VISIONIST on a new long sleeve tee. For AW17 I’m working with SOME WARE, on this mixtape and a few other items. We’ll also be collaborating with D.TT.K by Detto K, who is a good friend of mine. We’re making a collection of items as two Japanese brands, bringing our vision of a Japanese aesthetic together, so keep your eyes out.
Check out the SS17 film by PHIRE WIRE here.
PHIRE WIRE is showing at Paris Fashion Week every day from 9:30 to 19:00 at N A N A S U Z U K I, 24 Rue Beaubourg, Paris, 75003. phirewire.tokyo