With connections to musicians and artists in Shibuya’s subculture scene as well as big names in American skateboarding and board apparel, M, TRADING CO., LTD. is looking to stay true to its roots even as it takes its Subciety fashion brand global, building personal relationships one nation at a time.
Subciety is the trademarked in-house brand of M, TRADING, an apparel company that also produces other fashion lines as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Created in 2000 and acquired by M, TRADING in 2015, Subciety—a portmanteau of “subculture” and “society”—is an established street fashion brand with a loyal following in the Tokyo music scene.
“Our connection with people is one of our greatest strengths,” says Subciety Direcetor Gen Inaba.
Networking within the Tokyo music scene has allowed the brand to steadily grow its clientele even as design ideas and inspiration continue to come straight from those living Shibuya subculture, from tattoo artists and musicians to fans themselves, allowing the company to satisfy core needs bigger brands can’t read. Its OEM capabilities also give it the ability to plan and produce accessories, such as bags and shoes, that are difficult for other brands of the same size to develop.
Inaba and the company’s industry relationships have ledto collaborations with local and international personalities and organizations, including American professional skateboarder and artist Mark “The Gonz” Gonzales and American skateboarding apparel company Vision Street Wear. Subciety’s online store also allows purchases from abroad, and its smartphone app has seen downloads from Chinese fans, confirming interest exists there as well.
The brand is also carried in select boutiques in Malaysia, and Inaba is preparing for a major push into Taiwan: “A friend of mine went and had a look at the street culture there.
Apparently, it’s really thriving,” he says. That kind of energy is exactly what Inaba is looking for in his quest to take the label global.
M, TRADING hopes to license Subciety to companies with which it can forge strong connections. “Instead of never meeting face-to-face and just communicating by e-mail, I’d like to connect in my current style,”
says Inaba. “Rather than working with people we don’t know, I’d prefer to create relationships.” Ideally, Inaba says, partner companies would be able to handle everything from manufacturing, retail and wholesaling to advertising. Due to the brand’s emphasis on Tokyo street style, however, design would remain with Subciety in Tokyo.
As far as plans post-Taiwan, Inaba takes a one-country-at-a-time approach. He’s starting with Asia, but hints at larger ambitions: “I’d like to take the brand to L.A.,” he says, and hopes to propel the line to heights of success overseas unseen by other Japanese street brands in the coming years. Between the company’s networking skills and Subciety’s street appeal, it may just be a matter of time.