Kenzo: Behind The Tiger
In the early 1960s, aspiring fashion designer Kenzo Takada moved from Japan to Paris and then started his first label & boutique ‘Jungle Jap’ in 1970. The shop’s interior was decorated with a vibrant, jungle inspired theme. Combining Asian influenced style with European fashion, Kenzo’s talents were soon recognised on both in Paris and across the Atlantic, and his designs were picked out to feature in American Vogue in 1971. Known for his theatrical designs, Kenzo’s launched his first menswear collection in 1983.
At the age of 60, Takada announced his retirement leaving his assistants in charge of the house, and in 2011, designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim took over as new creative directors.
The new creatives wanted to bring Kenzo into the modern era and looked to its Parisian heritage from the 60s and 70s; which included the extravagant interiors of their buildings. From the archives of Kenzo, they noticed little tigers that would be on the inside of wristbands, inside of bags and on watches. As the duo were already on the hunt for Kenzo’s next emblem, they thought the ‘Tiger’ would be the perfect fit.
When the Kenzo ‘Tiger’ first made it’s appearance, it was crafted in a knitted jumper as well as, for the first time in the company history, a sweatshirt. Leon and Lin were determined to make the sweatshirt; despite doubts from the rest of the company. Ultimately Leon made the sweatshirt for himself and as samples for their runaway models, but then showcasing the sweat to their New York ‘Opening Ceremony’ store, it was an immediate sell out within two days! They knew the ‘Tiger’ was a winner, so launched the sweatshirts in their Paris stores, again selling out within hours.
Since 2013, the popularity has not diminished. This striking graphic is now synonymous with the Kenzo brand and appears on anything from t-shirts & sweats to caps & bags.