Japan’s OhShit!2099 has RVA roots from a name many of you already recognize

by | Mar 21, 2017 | PHOTOGRAPHY

The surname Gray should ring a bell following this past election season. City Councilwoman Kim Gray represents the second district of Richmond, but her son, Zirchi, is also currently making moves – in Japan – with his online urban streetwear brand, OhShit!2099.

Zirchi’s collection, which consists of hoodies, hats, and t-shirts, is versatile with a hip online presence , branded skate videos, and even footage from shows on stages in Richmond. Born from a collaboration between Gray and Japanese artist and designer Kent, the line has accrued some notoriety online. The brand OhShit!2099, much like his mother’s vision for her respective Richmond district, was founded on principles of equality and includes themes of past and future.

“SAME OLD SHIT! in Japanese… can mean delicious. 2099 is part of the title too. It means the future, we are designing for the future,” said Gray and Kent of their clothing line. “We are looking at the past. We see what’s happening.”

Most of the illustrations and design intervals the brand features are hand-drawn by Gray or Kent themselves- they pull from their personal experiences and historical events to make commentary.

They also use “candy and women” as inspiration for their designs which have even attracted Korean and Chinese bootleggers. Legitimate designs from the brand are released several times in a season, unlike other fashion lines that update once per season. Prior to being approached about their brand, they did not truly identify as fashion designers, but just as visual artists.

“[The fashion design world] is just fame and money, good shit doesn’t get out,” said Gray. “We have no interest in fashion. We want to send [traditional fashion designers] to hell. Design is weak now.”

These themes of resentment of what is mainstream or normal show up in the OhShit!2099 collections. The brand features pins in the shapes of burning schools as well as crewneck sweaters that sport stitched images of police paddy wagons in flames, seemingly a response to failing public school systems and police brutality.

“Some of the designs are inspired by people and happenings that occurred before I came into existence,” said Gray. “The history I have inherited from both my mother and father have been a big part of my identity as {an} artist and a human being striving for my god given rights.”

Gray and and Kent were both inspired by their parents’ craft and independence in creating. Gray sites his father and his father’s studio as a catalyst in his creative career.

“My father was the first person to expose me to Japanese art,” he said. “He would build his own larger than life canvas and paint images of Speed Racer and Lupin the 3rd.”

Kent’s family’s history in fabrics was his jumpstart into understanding design. “My partner Kent’s family has a history of producing fabrics for Kimonos and other Japanese clothing,” said Gray. “His mother has always been influenced by the most flagrant of styles.”

While the trend of urban or skatewear is steadily growing, the authenticity of Gray’s collaboration in the Far East help him, Kent and their brand stand out with the website’s big colors and Japanese characters.

There’s other big plans in the works – including a physical location back in his home city, but you’ll have to stay tuned to OhShit!2099 to find out more. But one thing is for sure – Zirchi and Kent plan to keep the business their own.

“We don’t really have such a strong passion for business as much as creation,” said Gray. As designers we are always building and sharing ideas with artist and designers in Tokyo, NY and VA as well.”

Keep up with their line and purchase products here.

Tico Noise

Tico Noise

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