Even after 20 years of designing clothes, Keizo Shimizu’s affinity for American-inspired garments has remained pure. Today, his distribution company NEPENTHES enlists several in-house labels like Engineered Garments, SOUTH2 WEST8 and AiE. Perhaps the most recognized among them all is Needles, and though the label has been around for over two decades, it seems the majority is just beginning to notice. Marked by the embroidered butterfly logo and thick side stripes, Needles’ signature track pants have surfaced on countless social feeds, worn by the likes of A$AP Rocky, Virgil Abloh and other industry figureheads. But in the idyllic days before any likes, comments or hashtags existed, the fluttering logo traveled organically, journeying back and forth across the Pacific between Japan and America, making it onto the shelves of NEPENTHES stores — one in Manhattan’s Garment District and the other, in Tokyo — and then examined in the hands of curious shoppers. This rarefied link between the East and West meant for Needles a natural synthesis of inspirations taken from vintage America and traditional Japan.
During the ’90s, when America started closing its homeland factories for mass production overseas, genuine quality U.S. goods were in short supply. Frustrated, Shimizu saw light in creating a label that held onto the spirit of American heritage while remaining true to his Japanese identity. The result is Needles — an eclectic mix of inspirations like psychedelic tie-dye, Ivy League attire, ’70s-style big collar shirts, Japanese arts-and-crafts and many other elements drawn heavily from film and music. In fact, the original Needles logo was inspired by the tattoo on Steve McQueen’s chest in Papillon. While the world is now busy unearthing the label’s rich archives, Needles continues its expansion with the recent NEPENTHES London opening and a vibrant Spring/Summer 2019 collection.
The latest SS19 line up is an amalgam of collegiate and sportswear influences, taking shape in the form of bold warm-weather offerings. One standout piece is the Needles Embroidered Jersey Track Pants in “Eggplant, and its matching Track Jacket. Tinged in a dark purple base, the pants feature accented red stripes over crisp white fabrication that run along the sides. Four zipper pockets are included, while the butterfly logo is weaved over the left leg. On the jacket, the logo is placed at the left side of the chest, below the standup collar and raglan sleeves. Rounding out the highlights is the Rebuild by Needles Multicolor 7 Cuts College Shirt. Each piece is made up of deconstructed panels from 7 different vintage garbs. Joined together by flatlock stitching, every multi-colored shirt is unique and assembled by hand.
Check out the photos above for a look at some highlights from the Needles Spring/Summer 2019 Collection and scroll below to shop now.