Street Etiquette in Tokyo, Japan: A Remix of Hip Hop & Fashion

I sat a few feet away from Cafe Bene’s vestibule. It’s 2012 in South Korea, and everyone watched this highly fashionable black foreigner, smooth sailin’ to whatever popular Kpop song that was blaring in the loud speaker. I momentarily paused my browsing of Street Etiquette’s “Black Ivy” edition and paid close attention to the way in which he walked through that glass door, investigated the space we both occupied, and wrestled with the ensuing stares from Korean patrons.

I realized, then, that human vanity has created and molded a universal measuring stick–we’re all, reluctantly, defined by what we wear; the fabric is a form of storytelling; in that instance, we both expressed the sartorial intricacies of black masculinity, and grabbed respect from the room like the last bit of oxygen.

The universe aligns in uncanny ways. This was certainly a film scene, because I just so happened to be browsing through a mens fashion site. A special one, indeed. Street Etiquette.

Street Etiquette was founded by Joshua Kissi (of Ghanian descent) and Travis Gumbs (of St. Kitts descent), two creatives from the Bronx. It’s a men’s lifestyle website and creative agency, which exist as repository of vintage style, coalescing fashion, art and photography– an amalgam of Afro-dandyism, prep, Americana, and everything in between.

SE took a recent trip to Tokyo, Japan, which is documented on their Instagram page. Their trip resonated quite well with me. My ex-girlfriend, a Korean, is a graduate from the prestigious Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. I’ve spent time in the famous metropolis–capturing the distinctive scene–so the images were familiar and powerful, evoking personal reflections of my time in East Asia.

Kissi and Gumbs recently turned their Instagram into what feels like a mix between a fragmented short film and fine art photography– a black and East Asian documentation of the city’s space and culture, blending Hip Hop music and fashion. Take a look.

Joshua Kissi (right) and Travis Gumbs (left)

SE captured Bergen (Norway) stylist T-Michael with a Lumix Gx8 in Tokyo, Japan

Joshua Kissi captures video portraits of his subjects quite often. On a visit to Bunka Fashion College, one of the top schools in Japan, Kissi bonded with the students through the dance move of the day, The Dab. This is what he wrote on the Instagram description:

“Today we had the opportunity of visiting Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. It’s the prestigious fashion institution that has birthed the most innovative designers from Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe and Kenzo Takada. We had the opportunity to kick it with some of the freshmen fashion design students in the court yard and we bonded over one thing : “The Dab” (ha!) the perfect video to start your morning with.”

Press Play by clicking the images below!

The late Nujabes is, to many Hip Hop fans, the J Dilla of Japan. Hip Hop lives in so many manifestations. And SE acknowledges the significance of featuring his music.

Song – Tech N9ne – Fragile featuring Kendrick Lamar

Cooking culture with style:

Song – Flying Lotus feat Thundercat – Descent into Madness

See the rest on their Instagram page


Content Director at OogeeWoogee. I'm a nomad; I like to engage in cross-cultures experiences---I'm a wanderlust, eating pancakes everywhere I go.

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