Lei Takanashi

Journalist

United States

A culture journalist who is passionate about reporting on graffiti, streetwear, New York City, and hip-hop culture. I'm currently a Staff Writer in Complex Magazine's style section.

I've written original feature stories and short news posts for magazines and websites such as New York Magazine, XXL, Mass Appeal, Grailed, Complex and 12ozProphet since 2015.

I'm a 2018 graduate of the Journalism and History program at Stony Brook University.

Portfolio
How Kanye Changed The Way We Dress
How Kanye Changed The Way We Dress

From wearing pink Polo tops to Balenciaga Croc boots, for close to two decades, Kanye West has changed how we all approach fashion and get dressed. Here's how.

Complex
Will Yeezy Save Gap?

By the time Kanye's first Yeezy Gap pop-up in Times Square opened at 10 a.m. on Thursday, a line of approximately 100 shoppers had already snaked around the corner of 45th Street and Broadway. Naturally, Yeezy fans, like Peter Signley, a 37-year-old man from Uptown Manhattan, were aptly dressed.

Complex
Pelle Pelle and Avirex Are Back: Here's How Hip-Hop Popularized Leather Jackets

This fall in Chicago and New York, groups of leather jacket enthusiasts came together to celebrate "Pelle Pelle Day." East Harlem native Miguel Rodriguez organized the events. He's a collector who runs an Instagram account with just over 2,500 followers called @PellePelleLeather-an archive page dedicated to documenting the history of the American leather jacket label Pelle Pelle by Marc Buchanan.

Complex
How Reggieknow Paved a Way for Kanye West and Virgil Abloh

After working for months on creative projects for clients like Virgil Abloh and Chris Gibbs, Reginald Jolley, better known as Reggieknow, is barely getting any sleep these days. When I dialed into Reggieknow's world via Zoom, he spoke to me from a dimly lit office in his Los Angeles duplex.

Complex
Supreme Naming Tremaine Emory Creative Director Was the Right Choice. Here's Why.

Tremaine Emory's appointment as Supreme's creative director marks one of the brand's biggest moves since being acquired by VF Corporation in 2020. Brendon Babenzien and Angelo Baque served as brand directors at the streetwear brand, but this is the first time Supreme has publicly confirmed an external creative director hire.

Complex
Is New York City the Best Place to Start a Streetwear or Fashion Brand?

Colm Dillane's studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a dimly lit space that's smaller than your average bodega. It's located directly underneath elevated subway tracks-you can hear the rumble of the J train every 15 minutes-and packed with hundreds of clothing samples that complement Dillane's bright paintings hanging on the walls.

Complex
How Brock Fetch Shot The Iconic Mixtape Cover For ASAP Rocky's 'Live. Love. ASAP'

Any teenager or rap enthusiast growing up in the early 2010s remembers the moment they saw the cover for Live. Love. ASAP. You might have first peeped it while your homie was playing "Peso" on their iPhone 4. Or maybe you stumbled on it when someone sent you a DatPiff link through BlackBerry Messenger, urging you to download the tape immediately.

Complex
Why Did Supreme Open a Store in San Francisco?

An hour before Supreme's store-opening party in San Francisco took place last Wednesday, a Korean college student named Thai-who is wearing a black Supreme Creeper T-shirt released last season-is asking anyone, and everyone, within the vicinity of the store if they're on the list to get in.

Complex
Supreme Team: The Story Behind the Brand's Original Design Crew

Having a major clothing brand was never something James Jebbia, Supreme's founder, envisioned. When he opened Supreme's doors in April of 1994 it was one of the only skateboard shops in SoHo, and he wanted to create a clubhouse for New York's budding skateboard scene downtown.

Complex
Kanye West's 'Donda' Listening Event in Chicago Captured the Struggles of an Icon

When a newly divorced Donda West purchased a 1,600-square-foot home on South Shore Drive for $40,000 in 1981, the Chicago State University English professor did so out of sheer necessity. While raising a young Kanye West in a small apartment in the Roseland area of Chicago, she embarked on a nine week research-trip in India and let her boyfriend, Ulysses "Bucky" Blakeley, stay at her apartment.

Complex
The 'Very Ralph' Documentary Barely Addresses Ralph Lauren's Greatest Influence

How has Ralph Lauren influenced fashion? That's what Susan Lacy attempts to explore in Very Ralph, a new 108-minute HBO documentary that premiered last month. It's the first authorized documentary on Ralph Lauren. In an interview with Vogue, Lauren said "It's not easy having someone write about you, or seeing a film about you," and revealed that he previously declined documentary offers over the years.

Complex
With His New LVMH Deal, Virgil Abloh Protected His Biggest Asset. Here's How.

On July 20, LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, and many more luxury brands, unveiled that it acquired a majority stake in Virgil Abloh's Off-White. The deal gives LVMH 60 percent interest in the Off-White trademark while Abloh will retain a 40 percent interest and continue as the brand's creative director.

Complex
Kanye West's Deal with Gap is Unprecedented. Here's Why.

A week before Kanye West announced that he was running for the highest seat in the White House, he revealed plans to rebuild another famed American institution. Gap recently inked a 10-year deal with Kanye West for a Yeezy Gap apparel line.

Complex
Will Supreme End Up in TJ Maxx?

This past Monday VF Corporation acquired Supreme for $2.1 billion and the reactions have been mixed. The comments under Complex Style's IG post about the news range from "It's gonna be a win for the industry, but an L for resellers," to "Yea, they over with for sure."

Complex
The Story Behind Tyler The Creator's 'Call Me If You Get Lost' Album Cover

Ever since Tyler, the Creator dropped his debut studio album Goblin in 2011, the Los Angeles-based rapper has been a fan of dropping alternate album covers. Many of these covers feature the work of Tyler's favorite artists. For example, when T dropped Wolf, the deluxe edition featured special art made by the pop surrealist painter Mark Ryden.

Complex
How a Graphic Designer Landed an Off-White Collaboration With Virgil Abloh

Last summer, a London-based graphic designer named Simon Brown received an email from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and book publisher Prestel. He thought it read more like spam from a suspicious dating site. It stated, "I've got this client called Virgil, we're making a book for him.

Complex
The Definitive Guide to New York City Outerwear

If there's one thing a New Yorker never slacks on, it's owning a top-notch winter coat. Although out of towners laugh at the sight of New Yorkers dressing like they are about to trek across Antarctica, they just don't get it. Yes, New York isn't that cold-the average temperature in Jan.

Complex
You Know You're From New York City if You Own These Pieces

Since the birth of hip-hop in the South Bronx, New York City has spawned a number of street fashion trends that have been co-opted by both the mainstream public and larger fashion brands today. Nowadays, you see everyone rocking New York City staples like Yankee fitteds and 6-inch Timberland boots.

Complex
The 15 Best DIY Streetwear Designers Right Now

DIY and customization is intrinsic to streetwear. Whether it was Dapper Dan making something completely new out of designer textiles or Ari Forman constructing the Menthol 10 sneakers, repurposing logos, creating bootlegs, and producing something out of nothing is a streetwear pillar that's no longer an underground phenomenon-just go to pop star Billie Eilish's IG page.

Complex
The Best Emerging Fashion Brands

What a time to be a new brand? There's something exciting about the early stages of starting anything new, but it can also be terrifying-with or without a global pandemic happening. "The first week I literally cried all week. I'm like, 'What the fuck?'

Complex
The 10 U.S. Stores That Helped Define Streetwear

We take our brick and mortar streetwear stores for granted today. In an age where hundreds of online retailers exist, customers seldomly visit an actual shop. Instead, they discover new brands on Instagram and purchase by hitting a checkout button on an e-commerce platform.

Complex
How to Consider Sustainability When Shopping for Streetwear

Streetwear will always be tied into a culture of over-consumption. With product drops every week and constant trends to follow on Instagram, it's difficult for anyone to stop buying and think about the impact of their spending habits.

Complex
How Graffiti Artists Paid Tribute to MF DOOM This Past Week

When news of MF DOOM's tragic death hit everyone on New Year's Eve, the global hip-hop community mourned the loss of one of the world's greatest MCs. One group particularly impacted by the announcement was the graffiti community. As hardcore MF DOOM fans know, The Metal Faced Terrorist was an avid graffiti bomber himself.

Freelance Work

New York Magazine/The Cut
10/31/2018
How The North Face Took Over '90s New York

My first feature story for New York Magazine was a piece explaining the popularity of The North Face within 1990s New York City street culture. This was one of the first stories to reveal the relationship between graffiti writers, rappers, and shoplifters with one of America's most successful outdoor clothing brands.

XXL Mag
10/16/2018
The New New: 15 New York City Rappers You Should Know - XXL

There is no bringing New York back-at least not in the sense of the catchphrase that's staled over the past decade (and has never quite come to fruition). Thanks to the internet, hip-hop is more democratized than ever. Scenes these days tend to be more dictated by sonics than geography.

Mass Appeal

Mass Appeal
05/05/2017
The Return of China Mac

A profile on the ex-Chinatown gangster China Mac, a formerly incarcerated Chinese American rapper who is making a buzz in New York.

Student Journalism Work

The Stony Brook Press
03/15/18
Volume 39 Issue No. 3

Executive Editor of Stony Brook University's school magazine, The Stony Brook Press. Led a team of editors and designed the print magazine.

12ozProphet
leisamp, Author at 12ozProphet

Published various amounts of online content for 12ozProphet. Put together galleries, managed weekly posts, shared new music.