Naoto Hirooka, innovative designer of the Japanese fashion brand h.NAOTO, has creatively integrated Jrock and fashion to produce a positive image for an array of Japanese subcultures such as Gothic Lolita and Visual Kei styles. In 1999, Hirooka graduated from the prestigious Bunka Fashion College in Shinjuku, Tokyo. In the same year, Hirooka entered S-inc Co. Ltd. In 2000, Hirooka launched his avant-garde h.NAOTO line. The brand thrives through a strong foundation of rebellious punk ideologies and is sustained through an assortment of Japanese subcultures. The brand ‘h.NAOTO’ and its child brands are among the most known and sought fashion among international Japanese rock/Visual Kei fans and fashion aficionados.
h.NAOTO’s utilization of Visual Kei and Gothic Lolita styles only touches the tip of the iceberg in regards to Japanese subculture usage. In addition, h.NAOTO incorporates a wide spectrum of music, movies, manga, anime, video games, and art. As a result of Hirooka’s ingenuity, h.NAOTO is a revolutionary fashion brand that has been applauded and praised for its creative designs in fashion.
h.NAOTO’s creativity has also resulted in international collaborations with several devoted fashion designers. Together they have positively impacted the Japanese music industry by focusing its visual direction on Visual Kei artists. This ambitious project is called “h.ism” and has been developing steadily.
As a result of the project, the “Sixh.” collection was designed in a joint collaboration between young fashion designers IBI and MINT in 2007. In the beginning of SIXh.’s development, the collection focused primarily on Visual Kei artists and Ghost Kei (Gothic and Visual Host Kei) styles as the primary foundations for SIXh. While being a fashion brand, it has transcended the realm of traditional fashion by integrating the band “Sixh.” into its efforts. Through unprecedented and exceptional methods of musical presentation, Japanese fashion has clearly jumped through culture barriers into the musical subculture of Japan.
This year, with fashion designer MIKA in the lead and the SIXh.’s ladies collection “MelT” brand is teaming up together for SIXh.’s lineup. The band will incorporate alluring butterflies and roses that will be featured as the main motifs along with MelT’s attractive, cute and devilish style.
h.NAOTO’s collections also have prospered as a result of creating remarkably unique and distinctive characters and backgrounds that depict each respective brand image. A prime example of this is the exceptionally diverse line of HANGRY&ANGRY. The brand was conceived in 2004 through a h.NAOTO cosplay and the “CHANNEL H” brand. This brand served as an inspiration for HANGRY&ANGRY as a “gro-kawa” (grotesque and cute) character brand. The characters HANGRY and ANGRY are cat plush toys that reveal an extreme malevolent and grotesque image. Their storyline is broken into four arcs: legend, past, present and future. Since the brand’s creation, only the present arc has been illustrated.
The setting takes place on the Hill of Killme, where Lord Cut and Duke Stitch reign over the Castle of Vice. Together they perform diabolical reconstructive surgeries on dolls to revive them as malign weapons of devilish destruction. While HANGRY appears to be ruthless and savage, she is unexpectedly sensitive. As a result, HANGRY is vulnerable to being constantly bullied by ANGRY’s aggressive behavior. Together HANGRY&ANGRY take part in a harsh and callous cycle of destruction. The result is the mass accumulation of HANGRY’s negative energy. When HANGRY’s energy had finally reached its peak – the Earth was heartlessly eliminated.
After several thousands of years following the Earth’s destruction, the world has become a frightening and stifling region that is swarming with hoards of fiends as a result of the nuclear radiation. Whether or not there is a savior, it is currently unknown. Beginning in 2010, the HANGRY&ANGRY LEGEND will be unveiled.
The thrilling journey of HANGRY&ANGRY is portrayed through GASHICON, the illustrator in charge of producing the brand’s characters and comics. Through consecutive publications in various Visual Kei magazines and participation with the popular movie “Death Note”, the imaginative world of HANGRY&ANGRY became immensely popular. After the successful development of HANGRY&ANGRY, the brand opened a shop in Osaka’s Ura-Harajuku in 2008. Shortly after, the rock band collaboration “HANGRY&ANGRY FUTURE” was formed. The band made its debut with popular former members of Morning Musume, Hitomi Yoshizawa and Rika Ishikawa. The merge between Japanese music and fashion for brands such as HANGRY&ANGRY has been overwhelmingly successful.
h.NAOTO has continued to break the traditional boundaries of fashion. Currently, there are five concept ideas of h.NAOTO’s subdivision brands for 2010 that will continue to expand the exceptional vision’s of h.NAOTO. ANARCHY is based on gothic and punk styles. The primary themes of this brand will be focused on death, destruction, violence and sex. BLOOD focuses on “gothic-style black elegance.” This collection will be based on artistic and tasteful fantasy melded in black and white. DARK RED RUM will explore the dark and mysterious nature of h.NAOTO by incorporating an “occult world filled with fear and shudder.” FRILL is a distinctive brand established by h.NAOTO that will feature white gothic-lolita styles as the centerpiece of the brand. The concept of this brand is derived from angelic images of “pure white dresses of lovely, dreamy girls.”
In 2008, “NAOTO7” began with h.NAOTO’s participation in the Tokyo Collection. In addition, the “Kotsuban (Pelvis)” series was introduced to include sexual themes. The series “Tsumi to Batsu (Crime and Punishment)” is to integrate a theme of death personified. The name “NAOTO7” is a reference to the Seven Sins. In addition, this unique brand has veered away from gothic styles and has instead chosen to focus on the profound and insightful relationships between mankind, society and fashion.
h.NAOTO will be continuing its success this summer in the United States. Hirooka confirmed and appeared at this year’s Otakon, an anime convention in Baltimore, Md.