There’s a line from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea that goes “Everything about the old man was old with the sole exception of his eyes. His eyes resembled the colour of the sea and were joyous and unconquered.” The production of denim has evolved as a trade in Kojima, Japan over the course of centuries, but for Toshikiyo and Kiro Hirata, it has a wealth of uncharted water in its horizon. Toshikiyo Hirata worked for 9 years in a factory that modeled jeans after reference styles from American companies like Lee and Levi Strauss. Following a summer spent in the states, he developed a love for vintage clothing and decided that he wanted to produce denim that was even better. Named after Kojima’s reputation as the capital of denim, Hirata founded Capital & Co. in 1984, devoting himself to mastery of traditional Japanese methods of weaving and dyeing in pursuit of this aim.
His son, Kiro Hirata, came of age with no intention of following in his footsteps. He studied art and design in the United States and, like his father, developed a fascination with the history of American fashion, particularly bandanas, and it informed his career path. He got his hands wet at 45RPM in 1996, coming into his own technical knowledge of dyeing, design and traditional denim production. After 6 years, he joined Capital & Co in 2002, initiating a new creative direction with his father and relaunching the brand under the moniker, Kapital, known today.
Operating at a nexus between traditionalism and an expressive death drive, Kapital takes the concept of boro to its logical extreme, reinforcing new garments with techniques meant to mend the old, deconstructing to the point of near decimation before bringing them back anew, and reinterpreting classic designs, often with roots in the military, altering them and combining them until they are rendered unrecognizable. All of this is in service to time, a simultaneous respect to the brand’s foundations in Japanese and American heritage, in history, and a desire to exist outside of it. It’s one reason that many of its sensibilities point to the Age of Aquarius, a period of time that can be looked to as a paradigmatic shift in fashion, culture and public sentiment towards institutional power. In creating deeply personal clothing with both expertise and a debasing irreverence, Kapital captures a feeling of freedom that doesn’t fade.