Tokyo. 1996. Fashion designer Tetsu Nishiyama, also known as TET, gives life to what will forever change the evolution of streetwear.
WTAPS (to be read Double Taps) is the name chosen for his creature. It refers to a particular form of shooting used during the first half of the 20th century, a clear tribute to the military world, which, although its values are distant from the brand, influenced the entire career of the designer with its garments’ manufacturing process and special materials.
The project begins after the similarly subversive experience of FPAR (Forty Percent Against Rights) and immediately starts having success. A shake into the local fashion scene. An earthquake. Then the global exposure, collaborations with several streetwear giants and GIP (Guerrilla the Incubation Period), cult store in Shibuya that gives shape to TET’s beliefs and sells both of his labels.
WTAPS represents many things, sometimes placid, sometimes savage.
Starting with a true emblem of the Harajuku 90s youth’s
tendencies. This is the common humus that fed the most
iconic Japanese streetwear brands still enriching the
contemporary reality. New needs, new expectations, new
fragmentation of society. The answer of WTAPS was and
even today is an inscrutable energy hidden by the simplicity
of its clothing. From an aesthetic point of view, punk, hiphop
and bikers’ cultures are evident throughout all the collections,
translating the core concepts of the brand identity into an
ever-changing panorama. Cultured, brutal, meditative,
spontaneous. To hold together all these faces there is a solid
invariable element: the fascination for the armed forces.
Details, fabrics, silhouettes, finishes, but not only. It is like
something has to happen, to break into.
The WTAPS universe is a sublime balance in front of an uncertain life, is the glacial waiting while wearing anti-riot equipment for the umpteenth upcoming enemy within a manga by Tsutomu Nihei. Maybe this is the secret formula. It is the capability to accept a collapsing system and play your own game accordingly. Even a rotting log could have a function, even an imperfect textile conceals a shade of rough beauty.
If on the one hand the wabi-sabi Zen principle permeates the hermetic slogans on windbreakers and the abundant lines of multi-pocket cargo pants, on the other some Taoist intuitions define the TET’s approach to the work. The life’s flow. The water that travels along its path until something contains it. There is that behind the designer’s motto “placing things where they should be”. It is the naturalness of a fashion that knows where to stop in order to be meaningful.
DARING FACTOR: WTAPS dares to not dare, to be cryptic and sometimes meager. It is a brand that for over twenty years based its design on military uniforms never being tedious or repetitive, a brand that dedicates a huge part of its communication to pure products always being intellectually stimulating. WTAPS embodies the complex and tumultuous imagination behind essentiality.