Human Made was founded in 2010 by Japanese streetwear icon Nigo, the same man behind the wildly popular “A Bathing Ape” and “ICECREAM”. Human Made stands out as a more personal project. Human Made goes against the current flow of trends within fashion, using a secret recipe that includes the right amount of craftsmanship and nostalgia. Human Made bases its pieces on '50s and '60s Americana workwear through the process of deconstruction and the analysis of vintage garments from Nigo’s personal archive.
Tomoaki Nagao, better known as Nigo, was born in Japan in the ’70s. His first encounter with fashion was during his time at the renowned Bunka Fashion School where he picked up fashion editing, later on becoming an editor and stylist for Popeye Magazine. As a hip-hop fanatic, Nigo became part of Tokyo’s nightlife, making friends with Jun Takahashi and Hiroshi Fujiwara. The latter, also known as “The Godfather of Tokyo,” took him in as his assistant. He looked so much like Fujiwara, he received the nickname “Nigo”, meaning “number two” in Japanese. In 1993, together with Takahashi, Nigo opened the international streetwear boutique called “Nowhere” in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, marking the beginning of a trailblazing journey across the creative industry before Human Made. Throughout the years, Nigo has started multiple successful brands next to Human Made, belted numerous collaborations, taken on the role of creative director at Uniqlo, and made a name for himself as a DJ as part of the “Teriyaki Boyz.”
Shortly after getting his feet wet with Nowhere, Nigo founded “A Bathing Ape” or “BAPE” with graphic designer Sk8thing before Human Made. As a big fan of pop culture, the idea for the iconic camo-pattern came from Planet of the Apes and the Japanese phrase: ‘A bathing ape in lukewarm water.’ The saying is used to describe the act of overindulging and references a new wave of hyper-consumerism amongst the youth. Through BAPE, Nigo perfected the formula for hype after seeing how scarcity as a consequence of cutting back its distributors and product quantities was received as exclusivity. Later on he would apply this to Human Made The brand became a trendsetter in Tokyo, and soon enough the rest of the world after being fanatically embraced within hip-hop culture. After closing a chapter and selling BAPE it was time to move onto other things, so in 2005, Nigo teamed up with Pharrell to create the two game-changing clothing lines by the name of Billionaire Boys Club and ICECREAM, before Human Made.
Nigo’s next chapter was Human Made. The transition from ape to human. Human Made is what he describes as his attempt to selfishly create the clothes he felt like wearing. As an obsessive collector, Nigo’s warehouse includes an astonishing archive of vintage clothing that for Human Made serves as the starting point for. Human Made is a reinterpretation of pre-1960’s Americana clothing, specifically workwear, with a more mature tone for Human Made in comparison to his previous projects. Why he choose that specific era for Human Made? It represents lost technology and shines a light on the no longer existing machines capable of making the stitching and fabrics we love in old garments. Human Made is all about the process, paying attention to detail, design, and construction. Quality is guaranteed as garments are produced by artisans in the famous Osaka Warehouse. The products created under this philosophy include utilitarian workwear, varsity jackets, bowling shirts, chino pants, baseball caps, and more.
Aimed at a smaller audience, Human Made, takes has a graphic approach channeling themes found in Nigo’s everyday life. The curry-up graphic found on Human Made clothing, for example, is a reference to his boutique dinner in Tokyo under the same name. Other motifs that have become synonymous with Human Made include the polar bear, duck, tiger, and trademark heart-logo. The iconic Japanese brand seems to be equally as good at collaborations, with names such as Adidas, Girls Don’t Cry, and KFC as just some on Human Made's track record. Nigo’s creative journey has inspired many, including Virgil Abloh, who paid homage to his legacy and Human Made by inviting him to collaborate on Louis Vuitton’s pre-fall 2020 collection titled: LV2. The collection channeled the mod-era dandy through Nigo’s lens and left hints to the different stages of his career throughout, inducing his love for denim, ice cream-melt details, and the slogan “Louis Made” in reference to Human Made.