Kenzo Hires Japanese Streetwear Legend Nigo As New Artistic Director

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Billionaire Boys Club.

Kenzo has announced that Japanese streetwear mogul Nigo has been appointed as the brand’s new artistic director, reported WWD. Nigo, whose real name is Tomoaki Nagao, is one of the most consequential streetwear designers and brand consultants in the industry — he founded A Bathing Ape (BAPE), Human Made, and co-founded Billionaire Boy’s Club with Pharrell Williams. He has also worked with Uniqlo and, most recently, collaborated with Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton. Nigo will be the first Japanese designer to helm Kenzo since the brand’s founder, Kenzo Takada, left the house in 1999 and died in 2020.

His impeccable resumé indicates that the LVMH-owned brand is moving in an even more contemporary, streetwear-focused direction. Sidney Toledano, the chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Fashion Group, told WWD that Nigo “immediately had a vision for the right jacket, the right sweater,” and praised him as “an extremely creative person, with that Japanese sense of quality and beauty, and I think the market needs that.”

In a press release, Nigo expressed pride and gratitude over the appointment. “Bringing the spirit of Takada Kenzo’s know-how to life to create a new Kenzo is the biggest challenge of my 30-year career,” he said. “Kenzo’s approach to creating originality was through [Takada’s] understanding of many different cultures. “It’s also the essence of my own philosophy of creativity.” Nigo, who has mainly worked in mens streetwear, will now oversee Kenzo’s womenswear ready-to-wear.

His first collection for the brand will be shown later this year, according to Vogue. Previously, Asian American designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the founder ofs Opening Ceremony, had helmed Kenzo from 2012 until 2019.