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Experimental and artistic Tokyo-based fashion label

OHYA (オーヤ), founded by Japanese designer Hiroaki Ohya (大矢寛朗), is one of Japan’s more innovative and exciting brands. Another protégé of Issey Miyake, Ohya’s designs are usually futuristic and experimental.

A lot of his designs are not particularly wearable and many perceive his work as art rather than fashion. His Astroboy line, influenced by the cartoon Astroboy, created by Japanese manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), was hugely popular and gained him many fans.

Hiroaki Ohya (1970) was born in Kumamoto. In 1992, he graduated from Bunka Fashion College, after which he joined the Miyake Design Studio.

Ohya started his OHYA brand, under the name Ohya Design Zoo Co Ltd in 1996, and in the same year participated in the Paris Collection. ASTROBOY BY OHYA was launched in 1999 in collaboration with Tezuka Productions.

Ohya is not really interested in the people that wear his clothes, as was shown with one of his more unique creations, OHYA THE WIZARD OF JEANZ (1999), a series of 21 books that transformed into actual clothes when unfolded. The name was based on the 1939 fantasy film The Wizard of Oz. Only 20 editions were created and each one cost USD 5,000. OHYA THE WIZARD OF JEANZ won international acclaim, as well as criticism, and was displayed in museums and galleries all over the world.


In a 2001 interview with JAPANESE STREETS, Ohya explained that he was inspired by an old biography of President Lincoln that he found at a New York flea market. For someone working in the fleeting fashion world, it was a revelation. “With a book,” he said, “you can see something from fifty years ago the way it was fifty years ago. My creations however vanish within half a year. Especially in Japan it is ‘produce, throw away, produce, throw away.’ I had the feeling that I was creating household garbage.

That feeling he expressed in Wizard. The denim is made of polyester. It is fake. Fake too, are the buttons, pockets, stitches and most of the other details of each fashion item. They have been printed. Fake at the bat of an eye. It is Ohya’s commentary on the make-believe world that fashion creates anew each season.

This fake world was perfected in Ohya’s Cup Mode (2000), based on Japan’s famous Cup Noodles. You find them everywhere in Japan: a complete meal that is created in just 3 minutes by adding hot water. Fake at its very best.

Cup Mode consisted of a series of convertible fashion magazines made of cotton fabric that transformed into fully functional jackets.

Later creations were less far-out, but occasionally just as unwearable.

In 2013, OHYA collaborated with Lacoste on a line of T-shirts once again inspired by the work of Osamu Tezuka. Ohya silk-screened six scenes from Tezuka’s manga. In preparation, he re-read all of the manga artist’s published work. Especially one quote touched him: Humans have had three dreams since the dawn of time. One is flight, another is transformation and the last is communicating with animals and nature.

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