Many businesses have endured after the deaths of the creative forces that brought them to prominence. Still, last month’s sudden passing of MisterGentleman’s designer, Takeshi “Big-O” Osumi remains shocking. A multi-talented force of nature who went from performing in ’90s hip-hop group Shakkazombie to starting buzzy streetwear brands like Swagger and Phenomenon, Osumi was an essential part of what made fashion in Tokyo exciting. Unafraid to deconstruct menswear staples and combine disparate elements into something new, Osumi gave MisterGentleman its brash appeal. A musician at heart, his patchwork sweaters, and irreverent suits could be viewed as the ultimate remix, his way of taking the recognizable and setting it to a fresh beat.
Osumi and co-founder Yuichi Yoshii were putting the finishing touches on the fall collection when his life was cut short and the clothes remain true to MisterGentleman’s history of hybridism and wry humor. Nearly every look is an extreme mishmash of color and texture; consider the PVC pants worn with quilted puffers, plus furry cropped sweaters that could double as Muppets. Shearling shorts worn with Breton stripes and camouflage leggings should be ridiculous, but a madcap energy made it work. Sure, one could break the styling up and form a “normal” outfit, but where’s the fun in that? The eccentric ideas that Osumi and Yoshi present were and are the brand’s objective.
Streetwear gets derided for its straightforwardness, but Osumi and Yoshii were able to subvert that expectation over the years. They took hoodies, puffers, and jeans, chopped them into oblivion, and then pasted them together again. Call it a remix, or Dada design, either way, it was wholly original and continuously evolving. This lineup elevated those pastiche pieces and placed them alongside elegant new propositions—liquid metal turtlenecks, trench onesies, and sporty shirt dresses among them—moving things in a more formal direction, a category that could use more of that cheeky MisterGentleman energy. The brand will soldier on, but Osumi’s final contributions to fashion illustrate why he was so vital and how deeply he will be missed.