Back in 1993, Tetsu Nishiyama (TET) began his journey in menswear by producing silk-screen t-shirts. Under the guise of ‘Forty Percents Against Rights’, TET would place political and philosophical slogans on simple white tees, selling them with the assistance of close friends Sk8thing and Shinsuke Takizawa. The process was visceral and raw – Nishiyama would make use of photocopiers, newspaper clippings and (VERY basic) Macintosh computers to compose his designs – but would lay firm foundations for his experimentation in menswear later on.
The FPAR label would eventually give way to a new brand of Nishiyama’s, incorporating the political influence with elements of military clothing and contemporary menswear to form WTaps. Twenty years later, the WTaps brand has grown to be stocked in stores around the globe, with their chest morale patches and NATO Phonetic sizes becoming a signature of their homages.
When their Flagship GIP-Store (Guerrilla: The Incubation Period) opened in Shibuya back in 2011, it marked a return to roots for TET following several seasons that explored other subcultures and styles, including several classic British movements including Mods and Rudeboys. Taking things back to the beginning, it wasn’t long before TET was blowing the dust off the archives and reviving the Media Guerrilla concept.
First selling FPAR products and accessories alongside WTaps product in GIP-Store, the brand has now opened an Online Store, healthily stocked with a variety of items. Staying true to its roots, FPAR makes use of the same text-based graphics that made its name, with a mixture of graphic t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, posters and other accessories available to purchase.
The concept is simple and strong. Politically charged statements are presented in clear, black and white prints that say what they mean and mean what they say. Personal favourites for me include the ‘Doubt Everything’ face mask and ‘Bury With Words’ sticker, but the highlight has to come in a simple declaration to the sleeping masses we encounter every day – You may trust Media Guerrilla, but Media Guerrilla doesn’t trust you.
With FPAR, we are also granted some insight into TET’s own philosophies and belief systems. A believer in Taoism and allowing that which is to simply be, we also see simple slogans that transmit a conscious involvement in life, without necessarily designating what it is that life should be. ‘My Life is My Life’ is a wonderful sentiment, and one that expands on the ‘I May Die…’ poster – ‘living “my” life is what I have tasked myself to do, and it is also my joy’.
Ever since I first got into brands like WTaps, I’ve been fascinated by their history, not only because it’s so interesting reading about how one small group of friends would eventually come to create some of the most seminal brands in Japanese menswear. There has always been a level of involvement in these brands from the owners, emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically, that has spurred them to continue to create a product that is both intrinsically relevant to themselves but also broad and accessible. TET’s identity runs through so much of WTaps’ releases, but it can still fall onto the shoulders of anybody and look great – both personal and universal.
With the opening of the new FPAR store, we get a closer look at the place where TET’s journey began. If WTaps’ releases are the finished product of philosophy and design combined, then FPAR is surely where these two disciplines first crossed paths – simple, unapologetic slogans that speak through the wearer and remind them of the power of their own agency. Your Choice. Know Your Rights.
The FPAR store is open now, with a variety of clothing, accessories and lifestyle goods available for purchase. The store only ships within Japan, so you will need to find somebody to proxy the purchases for you, such as Stylistics Space. To learn more about the WTaps brand, visit WTaps.com.