―It’s been 13 years since the launch of the brand. Is there any prime, fundamental work-style that you’ve valued throughout the years?
My motto is to “stay honest”, so I first reflect on what I truly wish to make. I am against making something you wouldn’t really want to make yourself. Although I’m sure every designer feels the same way when they create things… From there, I try to see the whole picture and think about the business model: “How can I market my products successfully as business?” I feel very fortunate when I make the things I want and the customers enjoy wearing it.
―You are known to be a designer who actually visits the production areas. What are your thoughts on the recent, severe conditions surrounding the Japanese manufacturing regions?
The reason why I go and visit the producers is because there’s so much to talk about then just the design sketches. I think the personal characters seep into the products when you communicate with the producers directly. That makes the items special and distinguishes them from the flat (homogeneous) products. I also feel it’s an extremely important role for the designers to connect the artisans, who continue to integrate the regional, traditional techniques and sensibilities to create unique, outstanding works, and the market through products.
I’ve held workshops and demonstrations before, in Kyoto, Nagoya, Sendai, and many places around the country. If people see the various production processes that go into making a product and know how the items are actually made, I believe people will enjoy fashion and appreciate it more. It’s something that you don’t even imagine by simply seeing the end product. So I’ve invited a number craftsmen to participate in the event scheduled to take place at Isetan. In my opinion, the business-style that pursues cost and manufacturing efficiencies… it’s prone to become superficial if that’s all they seek.
―visvim creates items that are durable. What are your thoughts on the relationship between the universal vs. consumptionism?
I am still looking for that answer but to answer what I’m feeling know…I think that if we only make quickly manufactured, cheap clothes, we would be left with same, identical things. For example, I collect a lot of vintage clothes, but I don’t find women’s clothes from the Edo Period or earlier. That’s because they didn’t really care much for the qualities of material and tailoring. So I design items that are comfortable for both men and women by using high quality materials, like the selvage denim jacket and Goodyear boots. (Women’s brand “WMV” designed by Hiroki Nakamura to be launched in 2013 AW season)
Especially now that the world trends are becoming increasingly homogenous, I feel that designers like me have their part to play. I think my role is to create by fusing traditional things with modern technology and skills and my individual emotions and senses lying inside of me. The question is, “How do we create clothes for today (2013) and succeed it into the future?”
It’s been 13 years since the launch of the brand, and there are some designs that I’m still using from that time, by adding slight adjustments and updating bit by bit. I hope to continue creating and running the business this way. Instead of fretting over anti-aging, I want to age by adding wrinkles gracefully.
―How would you feel if visvim items triggered a new trend?
I try not to look at fashion related news and only obtain a minimum amount of information from the media. Designing clothes based on trends is not my job. I create based on what I feel and what inspires me in my everyday life. If what I design based on this philosophy becomes a big hit and creates a trend, then I would sincerely be happy.