Continued from 1/2.
- How do you go about creating products?
At major sports makers, a term in the product cycle is 18 months. In the case of H&M Sport, a term is approx. 6 months. At times, we introduce new products in a 2-month span. Some of the designs I handled, when I joined the company last July, were in stores by November. Every Monday, we check worldwide sales numbers, and based on these numbers, we move onto new projects. We’re able to see the results right away since our stores are directly operated. When designing the Olympic uniforms, we took into consideration the ideas proposed by the athletes.
- What are technical trends?
Techniques develop rapidly. “Technical” trends today include seamless garments that reduce skin friction and mesh decorated with graphics. We use high quality materials and advanced techniques, but we are able to cut down on costs due to the scale of our business and direct management. Not only are our products affordable, they are also eco-conscious.
- How are the sales numbers?
Our overall sales show constant growth. Especially womenswear. The world is focused on being healthy, and our sports products are in line with this. Take running for example. I see more and more people around the world enjoying runs, and I feel that the market is growing steadily.
- Are many of the people that work at H&M Sport lovers of sports?
Yes. I enjoy sports in my private time. For the 2014 SS Collection, we created a logo of the “Stockholm Running Club,” which is based off the concept of designing our own running uniforms. We presented jogging jackets with this logo. Every Tuesday morning, our team wears this uniform and goes for a group run. I also enjoy Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
- Can you tell us about your project with Bunka Fashion Graduate University?
The name of the project is “Street Outdoor.” The purpose of the project is to have students from the University see the work of H&M designers firsthand. We did a similar project with Central Saint Martins, and this is the first time for us to work with an Asian school. We provide three lectures under the theme “designing functional outdoor wear for urban men in their twenties to forties.” The students design pieces based on this theme. The finalist will have the opportunity to participate in an internship at our Swedish headquarters. I was in charge of the second lecture, and I provided feedback on the presentations of ten semi-finalists. I also talked about creating proposals, the execution process and time management.
I saw that many of the pieces by the students reflected Asian characteristics. I find Tokyo fashion to be most varied in the world, and I felt that the students took one of the extremes and expressed it in their designs. I’m looking forward to seeing who the finalist will be. The world sees fashionable sports and outdoor wear to be symbolic of Japan. I’m hoping that through this project, more young Japanese designers with this talent will be recognized throughout the world.