In January 2013, the Tokyo-born menswear brand, “White Mountaineering” showcased at the worlds’ largest menswear trade show “Pitti Immagine Uomo” in Florence, Italy.

Since the launch in 2006, White Mountaineering offers menswear which captures the field of lifestyle as “outdoors”. What was it that the most powerful brand in Japan at present saw on the international stage? One month after the special event at Pitti, we talked to the designer, Yosuke Aizawa.

―― Was it a new challenge for the brand to participate at Pitti?

The creative process and the mindset were not at all different to how it’s done in Tokyo. White Mountaineering had never participated at European tradeshows, nor have I ever been to Pitti. Through those circumstances, to be invited to Pitti meant that, what we simply did would bring something innovative to them, and I could feel that anticipation. Therefore, I would say it was more of a continuation rather than a challenge.

―― Was it stressful doing a runway show?

I wasn’t stressed because it was Italy or Europe. However, as for being invited to a wonderful environment, we wanted to be on our top form and the stress came from realistic factors like scheduling and costs in order to achieve that.

I don’t create with the intention of putting on a show in the first place. We decided to showcase in Tokyo as a way of displaying our clothes from a different perspective. I believe we were invited to Pitti because they took an interest to our stance, so I knew I didn’t have to change the identity of the brand itself. However, as it was a huge opportunity, I wanted to be thoroughly prepared.

―― What was the popular amongst the overseas crowd?

That is hard to figure out. Although I did feel like I understood why Pitti invited us in the first place. There is a great demand in fashion and practicality within the non-classic part of Pitti, and observing objectively, there is an increase in outdoors based fashion. I believe Pitti gained interest because we are an Indies brand, always changing our perspectives.

―― Was it in your vision to go overseas?

Very vaguely. I wanted to go to a place where the people would wear our clothes. To be honest, the trade show in New York, Paris and Milan happened not because we were eager to do it. We were able to expand with the support of others backing us up. I want to do it if there is that sort of environment, but looking at it from a business point of view, I don’t feel the urge to expand in Europe or the US at any cost, if there is no such conditions ready.

―― How satisfied are you with your participation at Pitti?

I was able to see the positive and the negative. There is the massive Milan Fashion Week, and Pitti must have been contemplating their position/place in the field for a long time. I was vividly aware of what it meant, for our brand, which has nothing to do with either, to put on an event. After our show, the chairman congratulated me by saying, “It was extremely interesting and I’m glad I invited you.” I was so pleased to hear it, and that was my main aim. Those words were all I needed.

―― It has been 6 years since the launch of the brand. Have there been any changes in attitude towards creation?

For now, I’m not planning to do a runway show. It was my plan to stop after the 2012 SS collection in Tokyo. Actually, I wanted to exhibit the AW collection using a different method, but this time, the event was brought to realization because of Pitti. For the moment, I would like to base our business at tradeshows in Europe. Rather than “showing”, I want to demonstrate the presence of our brand.

―― What are the future aims for “White Mountaineering”?

We tend to change our viewpoint according to the circumstances of the moment, just like changing gears. However, for now, our aim is to raise the quality of each item of clothing, and focus on communication with clothes; something that starts when you put your arms through the sleeves, something that has nothing to do with words.