Retro-Futurism: Introducing, Cav Empt

Retro-Futurism: Introducing, Cav Empt

by Ian Peterson


Born in 2011 in Tokyo, Japan, Cav Empt (aka C.E.) was mysteriously introduced to the world of streetwear & fashion following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the coast of Tōhoku

A city known for its vibrant lights in the night went dark without any anticipation, and plunged the country as a whole into absolute darkness (both figuratively & quite literally). It was in this moment that the secretive brand was brought into the spotlight, with founders Toby Feltwell, the notable graphic designer SK8THING, and Hishiyama (Hishi) Tutaka having described the launch of Cav Empt as a reaction to the “dissatisfaction with the present state of things…” - something Feltwell cited as a reference to the Sci-Fi novel Ubik by Philip K, Dick. The launch of Cav Empt became an alternative to the world they were currently experiencing.


It was during this time that Feltwell & SK8THING were nearing the end of their time with A Bathing Ape - one of the first niche streetwear brands to become an international sensation. Although BAPE’s success had a grand appeal to the masses, it no longer appealed to the two founders; however, they saw it as an opportunity to continue working together and start on something new. Through the darkness, a light had sparked.

Cav Empt gets its name from “caveat emptor”, which is a legal, Latin term once again referenced in Ubik that translates to “buyer beware”. Not only is the name fitting, as it aligns with the brand’s science fiction milieu, but it also references Feltwell's prior education experience, originally going to law school before tapping into streetwear. Had BAPE’s original owner, Nigo, not reached out and welcomed Feltwell to join his emerging brand, Feltwell would have gone on to pursue a career in law. It can be inferred that it was during this time that Fetwell made a specific realization that draws parallels to the brand’s humble beginnings: it was a moment of awakening to be conscious of what excited him in the moment.


Although diverse in their design approach with each unique capsule release, one key theme stands out and has remained consistent throughout the brand’s history: fix the present by mixing old things in new ways (DAZED). Since introducing itself to the world of fashion over ten years ago, C.E. has certified itself to be “one of the most enigmatic brands in fashion” (according to DAZED Magazine) by approaching each drop with a future-meets-the-past type of lens. The founders elevate their sci-fi approach by inviting all who join in on the brand’s journey to recognize how they (too) question modern technology’s influence on society.

From tracksuits decorated with SK8THING’s standout imagery throughout, to oversized tees arranged with obscure tech slogans, the brand never rushes to get a collection out the doors. Rather, they approach each capsule slowly and with deep creative attention to ensure a unique aesthetic that further deepens their relationship with customers & followers alike. Additionally, the trio of founders will forever aim to keep Cav Empt low-key, selling only through select retailers (only 7 stores in the US). Each collection is special and feeds into the idea that positivity only arises by exploring the past to build a better future.


Their aesthetic blends retro-futuristic graphics with London-inspired streetwear, including the use of outdated technology modes and archival films. The graphics often look & feel like a haunted past, while calling upon their audience to understand the message of each piece in their own way. This idea that it's up to the observer to make sense of what they're seeing is like a piece of art hanging up in a museum, inviting each participant to dive deeper to become a vehicle for excitement.


If you know LIKELIHOOD, then you know we are all about discovery and the element of surprise. It is for these reasons, and many others, that we couldn’t be happier to introduce C.E. to our roster of brands. Welcome to the LIKELIHOOD family, Cav Empt!

Explore the latest Cav Empt arrivals HERE