Kapital Takes Its Fleeces to the Max

Inside the trippy visuals of artist Peter Max.

Under the creative direction of Kiro Hirata — son of Toshikiyo Hirata, who founded the denim-based label in the 1980s) — the Japanese label once known exclusively for hard-wearing denim (its name refers to the Okinawa Prefecture, the self-proclaimed “denim capital” of Japan) gained a following beyond its jeans and materials like its signature Century Denim, a complicated stitched sashiko fabric that somehow only goes through one loom.

Besides the intricate construction of pieces like the Kamakura Anorak, woven Keel Vest, and endlessly versatile Ring Coat, Kapital’s fleece offerings have become one of its instantly recognizable “gateway garms,” the kind of thing you discover on the timeline, then probably end up copping from a place like Grailed or eBay. From the Kanye West-cosigned reversible sashimi boa fleece to patterns like leopard and damask, the ornate patterns are an instant signifier of higher-end pile tastes.

When Kapital’s latest collection began showing up in such illustrious retailers like Mannahatta, some of the early standout pieces were the psychedelic fleeces. These insane-looking prints are none other than the work of German-American artist Peter Max.

One of the most prolific fine artists of the 1960s, Max’s work is closely associated with the era’s LSD-informed visuals. His influence even stretched to the realm of pop culture, where he served as a creative consultant to The Beatles’ seminal art for their Yellow Submarine film, which was actually done by another artist Heinz Edelmann because Max’s schedule was too busy. But when John Lennon personally asks you for a creative vibe check, how could you possibly say no?

Max’s interest in astronomy in particular led to his “Cosmic ‘60s” period, the style that is most evident in his collaborations with Kapital. From the Goodman Fleece Blouson in Green, to the even trippier navy version, the themes of space, atmospheric environments, and fractal aesthetics all combine to give the collection a new age energy.

Kapital and Peter Max originally teamed up back in 2018 for a series of psychedelic bandannas meant to celebrate the Winter Olympics, with themes celebrating not just alpine sports like skiing (check the subtle social commentary with the briefcase full of money), but also the intermingling of American and Japanese culture—something of a Kapital signature.

“Hippie culture…So awesome,” says Kapital’s Kiro Hirata in a 2019 GQ feature. The article itself is definitely worth a read, if only to glean what the inside of his head might look like. Apparently a man of few words, it’s a wonder that writer Noah Johnson was able to pull a few gems from their conversation.

“Many of the pieces in the collection come from America but they are made using Japanese techniques and fabrics for a more interesting result,” writes Johnson about Kapital’s need to clash cultures against each other. “Styles are mixed and matched: A bomber jacket becomes a kimono; sweatpants are dyed and patched like ancient textiles. In some cases, as with tie-dyeing, which is considered to be a typical vintage hippie craft, and Japanese shibori dyeing, which dates back as far as the eighth century, the connection is even more direct.”

Considering Kapital’s denim heritage, it’s strange they didn’t tap Peter Max’s work to turn into jeans. But back in 2017 he actually released a Wrangler collaboration that was an update of a project he originally did in the 1970s. Shops like 10 Corso Como gave it an appropriately far-out installation.

Consisting of colorblocked jeans, jackets, and buttondowns along with retro-styled graphic tees, you can find the men’s and women’s collection all over eBay for pretty decent prices.