The Story of the Rising Brand: Akai Kuma

British brain. Japanese Heart. That's one of the slogans describing the young and hip men's label Akai Kuma.

Feature by Anna Battista | 16 May 2006

British brain. Japanese Heart. That's one of the slogans describing the young and hip men's label Akai Kuma. Created a couple of years ago by two lads from Hertfordshire, Akai Kuma fuses in its polo tops, knits, T-shirts and coats, Japanese art and style with cool urban trends.

Premium Glasgow store Cruise stocked the brand since the very beginning. "I first heard about this new label through the fashion grapevine in Autumn 2004," Louis Darcy, Cruise menswear buyer says, "an agent I work closely with asked me to look at some pictures of a brand that he was thinking about representing and to give my opinion. When I first saw Akai Kuma at the trade shows in early 2005, I was struck by the layered polo tops and T-Shirts with really strong graphics and applications, as well as by their fresh and broad colour spectrum that was really quite exciting while lots of other brands were quite stagnant at the time."

Akai Kuma creates four collections a year: all are by nature casual, yet the focus is always on high-quality materials and stunning prints. The brand has already developed a good following: reasons for this success include the visually strong image of its creations and the great fit of the polo tops and T-shirts, but, according to Darcy, the knitwear and jacket collection in the winter of 2005 also helped to cement the brand's identity.

Akai's main customer is 18-30 years old, but a wider selection of customers might be attracted by the 2006 spring/summer "Ninja" collection which features subtle oriental graphics and a cleaner, more sophisticated version of the original layered polo shirts and knitwear with less applications. Among the must-haves of the new collection there are the polo tops layered with shirt collars and cuffs and lightweight slash neck sweats in summer pink, yellow, green and sky blue.

Akai's spring range shows that the brand has every intention of continuing its unrivalled retail success. If you feel like wearing something that evokes the rituals, events and fighting styles of the medieval Far East, yet is extremely contemporary and cool, now you know which brand you should turn to.

Akai Kuma is sold in Cruise, 180 Ingram Street, Glasgow.
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