Anime, or Japanese animation, is a type of medium in which a story can be told through. Much of what characterizes Anime is the rendering of characters in very anatomically correct sizes, realistic backgrounds, and of course bug eyes. Having originated and evolved in Japan, the medium eventually found its way across America as early as the 1950s. However many of these shows were heavily Americanized in order for them to be more marketable. As the 1980s rolled around Anime was still being imported, and retained much of its Nippon culture. It wasn’t until the 1990s, with the advent of shows like Dragon Ball Z, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and other shows that the medium was wholly embraced in America by the underground and adolescents alike. Needless to say Anime has become part of American culture and is very mainstream in the media.
One example of Anime’s prominence in America can be seen, by stores often selling shirts with the name or characters of any particular Anime. Likewise certain clothing brands, some having an Asian background, would sometimes pay tribute to Anime. Some of the most prominent tributes being Triumvir’s collabs with Street Fighter or Bape’s collabs with One Piece. While some brands have shown their fondness of Anime in this manner, at times it seems very counter intuitive. Simply put, many people mull over the fact that simple designs featuring characters or logos can readily be purchased at shops such as Hot Topic, even if quality comes into play there is nothing unique. The balance between Anime and clothing brands has typically been plain, because the designs are never quiet able to find a balance between how a brand and Anime should be incorporated into or work off one another. While both Bape and Triumvir liked Anime, they obviously viewed it in a certain light and as such treated it as an alien product that did not belong in the American culture. With Triumvir’s demise in mid 2013, it seemed as though Anime’s tenure in streetwear was unofficially over. Likewise it probably never would become a motif in streetwear, as Triumvir was the only brand that tried to take an Asian American perspective on anything Oriental. Fast forward to October of that year.
Hidden Characters, the clothing arm of the mysterious Super Losers Collective, was formally presented to the streetwear community in 2013. Unlike many of the brands that came before it, Hidden Characters takes cues from not one, but two different cultures/concepts. Anime as well as being philosophically inclined to subjects that instill shock, such as death. Not much is actually known about Super Losers Co. as the team is perhaps meticulously mapping out their plans for world domination. What is known is that they’re a collective based in one of America’s Midwestern states, some members skate, make music, or design clothing. Although they are less than a year old, the brand has already proven to have great creative talent. They previewed their JFK drop for months, while managing to keep people’s intrigue alive through many teasers. Their JFK pre-sale is a perfect example of who Hidden characters are, showcasing both their love of Anime and morbidity. A lone gun man, rendered in an Anime style, is on the back of the long-sleeve. While the sleeves themselves show a step by step diagram of President JKF’s head as he was being shot. Two concepts seamlessly executed into one shirt.
For their first drop there was already so much hype around the brand, that their web-store actually died. Forcing the the creators to quickly build a temporary eshop. Quite an accomplishment, especially for a first release. Their second great accomplishment being that they have effectively managed to treat Anime as an American phenomenon. Not only did their JFK tee feature an Anime inspired character, but it felt very natural. You could look at the tee and not question whether its American or Japanese, you just don’t care to ask because the tee is so easy on the eyes. Likewise their Playboi Pikachu tee perfectly fused the Japanese electrical mouse and the classy Americana Playboy icon, making it their own. A pocket in the front sporting a matching mini logo is a great compliment to the oversized back logo. The Asteroid Blues tee takes a very iconic scene from Cowboy Bebop, rendering it in black on black (3M ink) for an added feel of bleakness and drama, while the front of the tee sports a pistol instilling a feeling that could be that of fantasy vs a very real reality.
Of course there were other great products that dropped, such as Hidden Stock and Demons. All of which were given little details which give people an idea of the quality Hidden Characters is striving for. Unlike many new brands Hidden Characters has managed to create a style that is all their own, without being defined as a one style brand. Stay tuned for their next release. Til then, stay Hidden.
Asteroid Blues tee.
The back of the tee features Spike.
Playboi Pikachu. Pocket features mini PP logo.
*Hidden Characters is very active on their Tumblr. Not for everyone, you have been warned.
*Super Losers Co Twitter.
*Look for their forum to know when the next drops are slated. Location of forum will not be given, if you want it look for it.