I’ve only started fully appreciating Undercover when its designer Jun Takahashi released the Borremans collection in Fall/Winter 2015. It is a label that I’ve personally found to be more popular amongst the boys despite the fact that he’s been producing adventurous yet polished womenswear in the last few years, no less impressive than Sacai and Marni. Diehard UC fanboys can be found throughout various corners of the Internet, sporting Joy Division prints, hand-printed bombers and embroidered moto jackets. What’s unknown to many is that Undercover was not founded by Takahashi alone. He once had a partner, and his name was Hironori Ichinose.
Ichinose and Takahashi met each other while they were studying in the world-renowned Bunka Fashion College, which boasts famous alumni such as Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe and Tsumori Chisato. Takahashi went on to open his first store with Nigo – the founder of A Bathing Ape – in Harajuku in early 90s, but it is unknown whether Ichinose was still a partner in the business by then. The latter subsequently founded his own line called Vandalize, though very little information can be found about it on Google since its website is no longer in operations. What is certain is that throughout the years, both UC and Vandalize had done joint collaborations. Vandalize reprinted UC’s early t-shirts, while they both worked together to reproduce an MA-1 bomber that was a key garment from Vandalize.
Unlike the collaboration, the original Vandalize bomber is neither hooded nor fleece-lined. However the central components remain the same – chiefly the reversible cargo vest fastened to the body with hidden velcro. The jacket is fitted with two sets of zippers so that it can be closed with the vest in or outside. And these zippers are hefty yet smooth. It’s a garment dripping with utilitarian intention, except perhaps the giant metal Vs attached on the sleeves – small aesthetic details that I can appreciate.