Founder and designer Keizo Shimizu launched the line 20 years ago with one piece: a simple loose-fitting suit jacket inspired by one a young Miles Davis wore in the 1960s. Shimizu’s fashion venture began in 1988, when he launched Nepenthes, a distribution company in Japan with a special focus on U.S.-made goods. He opened the first Nepenthes store, in Tokyo, in 1989 and stocked the shelves with pieces from Ralph Lauren, New Balance, and L.L.Bean that he bought at factory stores in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Freeport, Maine. Soon he hired his collaborator, Daiki Suzuki, and the two began to develop original pieces that represent their unique, eccentric sensibilities. Shimizu’s frequent trips to America became scouting missions for sourcing vintage dealers, manufacturers, and fabric mills. Moving forward from the Miles Davis jacket, the Needles collection now spans a range of styles and influences from American and Japanese cultural movements.
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