H&M Sport is gaining more recognition since it designed the official Swedish uniforms for the Sochi Olympics. For H&M, this year is dedicated to sports, and it focuses on fortifying design and functionality for its sportswear line. Since last July, Shuhei Numata from Japan is one of the members of the design team handling sportswear for the brand. We interviewed him about his career and current role.

- What prompted you to become a designer?

I was majoring in oil painting at Musashino Art University, when I realized how hard it is to make a living as an artist. After graduation, I applied to study product design at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, but I was persuaded by a professor there to major in fashion instead, as that is the school’s forte. Upon entering the fashion department, I began to work for the German headquarters of adidas. After that, I worked at the European headquarters of ASICS. Since last July, I’ve been working as a product designer for men’s sportswear at H&M.

- What attracted you to H&M?

The company has high potential. It designs a variety of products and comes up with great collaboration partners. In addition to clear business strategies, the company also focuses on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Instead of concentrating on short-term profits, H&M products are designed based on long-term visions. I was able to identify with the corporate culture, which is also reflected in the sportswear division.

- What is the concept of H&M Sport?

The corporate philosophy is to provide “fashion and quality at the best price.” At the same time, our products are inspiring and contemporary. Designing the official Swedish uniforms for the Sochi Olympics has raised our recognition even more. It goes without saying, but it was a huge project for us. In line with the Olympics, we’ve dedicated this year to sports.

In terms of products for the 2014 SS collection, we’ve created categories such as “running,” “athletic” and “outdoor.” We introduced reflectors for our running series so that wearers can also enjoy runs at night. The cuts in the designs assist movement, and the materials introduced are quick-drying. The outdoor series focuses on waterproofing. We also have a large lineup of accessories including arm bands for storing smartphones, socks and bags. Our sportswear line is only available at selected H&M stores, and I’m hoping more stores in Japan will carry the line.

To be continued into 2/2.