EXCLUSIVE: KENZO’s Tiger Is Remade in the Image of Its Founder

Creative director NIGO loves KENZO not just because it’s a pioneering Japanese-cum-French fashion label but because house founder Kenzo Takada was as much of a clothing obsessive as NIGO himself. Takada had distinct interests from NIGO, sure — while NIGO covets centuries-old Levi’s, Takada was schooled on Yves Saint Laurent — but, pound for pound, these guys are comparably passionate.

So NIGO, like Kenzo, takes something as important as a logo incredibly seriously. KENZO has two inimitable bits of branding: its stylized elephant and the iconic KENZO tiger.

In homage to Takada, NIGO has gently reshaped each. Both designed by NIGO, the KENZO elephant logo is now a simplified stencil inspired by ’50s-era sailor tattoos, while the tiger takes on a form that recalls ukiyo-e, historic Japanese woodblock prints. This melding of the old and the new is quintessential KENZO and, in a press release, NIGO’s new designs are positioned as a tribute to Takada.

This isn’t the first time we’re seeing these KENZO logos, mind you. The tiger debuted as part of NIGO’s Fall/Winter 2022 KENZO debut and the elephant has cropped up in drops like the recent KENZO pixel offering.

Also like previous drops, the new graphic-first KENZO goods will be available on KENZO’s site and at its stores later this month.

I quite enjoy NIGO’s work for KENZO, which leans heavy into the utilitarian side of things (read: workwear, Westernwear).

It’s all part of his personal worldview, really, which includes slightly tweaked Levi’s collabs and his own label, Human Made.

NIGO has a truly a distinct, auteur-like approach to clothing design and I appreciate his unflappable consistency. Simultaneously, NIGO isn’t simply designing for himself: motifs like the reshaped KENZO elephant and tiger are also indicative of his care for the creatives who came before.

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