For those in the know, Blackmeans is one of Japan's best cult brands. Grounded in a mutual love for punk rock, American biker culture and traditional Japanese craftsmanship, Blackmeans has remained surprisingly under the radar—save for high-profile co-signs from names like Kanye West.

In an effort to expand the brand's horizons and presence outside of its native Japan, Blackmeans has teamed with Empty R_ _M on a NYC pop-up. Given Empty R_ _Ms well-respected reputation as an archive-centric store, the pairing offers up a unique opportunity to cop curated Blackmeans pieces from past seasons (not to mention a robust selection of archival pieces from designers like Raf Simons, Undercover and Number (N)ine).

Ahead of the pair's co-sponsored event on 136 Bowery Street here in New York, we caught up with the team behind Empty R_ _M to ask them about Blackmeans, this sale and the heat they're bringing to the public.

As an exclusive to the Grailed community, we're offering a preview of the sale by releasing for sale 10 event-specific tees; featuring Blackmeans branding, these T-shirts will never be reproduced or released after this pop-up event.

Ahead of the start of the Blackmeans x Empty R_ _M event on October 4, scope our interview below and shop our exclusive preview.

To start us off, can you explain a little bit about what you’re doing with this pop-up and who is participating?

We are an archive store based in Tokyo where we carry many Japanese pieces. We've recently been able to participate in a pop-up with Blackmeans which is a brand that we adore. This is also their first time to ever display their archive collection. We are extremely excited for people to be able to touch these authentic leathers and it is very important for us to not only expose these Japanese brands to the world, but also our own archive pieces as well.

We know that Blackmeans is bringing some rare pieces and classics to this event, but what can we expect from Empty R_ _M in this sale?

Out of their archive collection we carefully hand-picked the pieces that would best represent Japanese culture and assist Blackmeans in being viewed as a well respected brand worldwide. There are also a few items that are exclusive and specially made only for this pop-up.

For someone who might be unfamiliar with Blackmeans, how would you describe the brand? Personally, what excites you about Blackmeans?

The brand Blackmeans is not only made from well experienced Japanese
leather craftsmen, but also explores Japanese and punk rock cultures, which have their own ways of communicating. For further information please check the Q&A that we did with one of the designers of the brand—Yujiro Komatsu. This brand has very limited distribution throughout the world so we are extremely excited to showcase Blackmeans to a whole new audience.

How do the garments you’re bringing to his event embody the best of Blackmeans? What items found within this sale would you like to highlight in particular?

So most of the pieces that we are bringing over actually come from traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos, original firefighter uniforms and more. However, they are all reconstructed into leather pieces which is what embodies the concept of Blackmeans—including specially-made leathers. The stud leather jacket is the piece we look forward to showing our customers the most, because it is one of a kind as it was hand crafted with special care and time.

As for Empty R_ _M, from your vast selection, what items stand out in particular in this sale?

We are bringing a vast amount of Japanese brands. The biggest highlight pieces are from Number (N)ine's Fall/Winter 2005 The High Streets collection and the Undercover Fall/Winter 2003 “Paper Doll" collection. That said, we are also bringing other brands from different seasons that we are just as excited about.

Grailed is home to many archival fashion buyers and sellers with a wide variety of designers and garments for sale. Empty R_ _M—how do you stand out among other archival fashion curators, collectors and sellers?

As long as fashion is around there will always be collectors, and we believe we are a part of that community as well. However, we differentiate from others by collaborating with different Japanese brands in which no one can mimic, thanks to our relationships. Since we are Japanese we like to collaborate with designers from our own country; we want to showcase these things to the world so people will be more familiar with these designers and our culture.

Why did you two (Blackmeans and Empty R_ _M) decide to collaborate together on this event? What drew your two groups together?

We approached [Blackmeans] first, because we wanted to showcase their pieces to the world. Also, we shared the same vision in that we both believe that there is more to clothing design than what meets the eye.

You’re based in Japan normally. Why hold this event here in NYC?

We've held pop-ups in LA and Seoul before and the reactions have always been great; we're always trying to be the gateway to exposing Japanese brands to a worldwide audience. With Blackmeans we wanted to find a location that is a cultural melting pot such as New York City. It felt like the perfect place in which expose our Japanese history.

Anything special or unique we should look out for with this pop-up event?

Needless to say, this is the first time Blackmeans has ever opened up their archive collection to the public. We also have T-shirts specially made for this pop-up. For our own collection [from Empty R_ _M] there are so many pieces that we kept on hold for this particular pop-up that people should be looking forward to that part as well.

The Blackmeans x Empty R_ _M pop-up runs from October 4 to October 8 at 136 Bowery Street in New York City.

This interview has been edited for clarity

Tags: new-york-city, number-nine, japan, blackmeans