- Where is the balance between fashion and art in the world of creation?

It is very difficult to define, but for me, atypical works are art. When slightly controlled, these become fashion, I believe. If I can imagine someone wearing the shoes that I design, it’s probably fashion.

- You wear the shoes that you design each time?

If I’m going to market my designs as shoes, I need to put my feet in them and make sure that they are comfortable. I’ll stand and take a few steps to see that they have what is required as shoes. Without the basics, the designs are not complete. If the beautiful designs are wearable, then they become the midpoint of art and fashion. Usually art is for appreciating and decorating. In the case of shoes, they can be art that people can wear and maintain in proximity.

- Why did you decide to introduce a pair of shoes expressing Ito Jakuchu’s artwork using Nishijin weaves?

I’ve always liked Ito Jakuchu. I thought that introducing the work of this painter for the “Future Beauty: The Tradition of Reinvention in Japanese Fashion” exhibit at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto would be perfect. Jakuchu grew up in the Nishiki Market, and I wanted to introduce materials that existed in his time, which led me to use Nishijin weaves. In my imagination, my stance towards creation is similar to that of Jakuchu. As a painter, Jakuchu introduced the techniques of traditional Nihonga (Japanese-style paintings), but had a good command of transcendental approaches. He presented innovative methods in his time in a 2D framework, whereas I do something similar in a 3D one using shoes.

- What future lies ahead for Japanese fashion?

The collections start with the runway and finish by being lined up at stores. In between all that, there is so much information that gets communicated that consumers begin to tune out. The main focus is on selling, which makes the products dull and untrendy. In that sense, I don’t see a bright future for fashion. But, the things which are real, they stand out amid all this. That’s why I want to create things that make people dream.

There may be uninteresting clothes which sell well, and I guess they fulfill other needs of people. It’s kind of like the distribution of roles; I want to leave this bit to those that are good at it.

For me it’s important to have a unique identity. For example, it’d be pretty nice if my ancestors created something great, and their work was hung in a museum. In the future, when I’m possibly married and have children, I want to have had designed a number of things that remain and people can be proud of. I want to create things that move people’s hearts and feelings. Just as I gain inspiration from the works exhibited at museums, I want to be able to pass on priceless designs to the next generations.

- What is fashion seen through your eyes?

It’s an endless quest. Fashion is directly linked with feelings. Wearing bright colored clothes makes people happy. Fashion is about having fun. You can enjoy picking out an outfit according to your plans, say a date. No other animal wears clothes, so it’s a human privilege. It enriches our lives. I want to continue to improve my design skills and challenge myself. For example, designing the first pair of shoes to be worn in outer space (laugh). Growing my imagination to think about what I will design next keeps me excited and fulfilled.

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