We’ve been following this designer ever since our predecessor’s site, 「CLUSTER」, was first launched: Fujii Takayuki. It’s been 15 years since he began work as 「nonnative」’s designer, and we figured it was the perfect timing to get in-touch once again to talk about his creations up until now.
His 2016 AW collection’s theme is “back to your roots” and we at EYESCREAM.JP have taken this opportunity to discuss this 40 year old’s first experiences, his continuing love for “that” particular item, and yet to be talked about insider information. This “back to your roots” interview is a real treat.
When I look back 15 years and think about what I liked the most, it has to be that moment’s London.
–It’s been 15 years since you’ve started working as [nonnative]‘s designer.
Fujii: This more recent AW exhibition was my 30th since starting. So yeah. It’s been a complete 15 years. The brand existed for a short while before I entered the picture, so it’s not necessarily an anniversary, but yeah. 15 years.
–Previously you said that “designing partly deals with how to keep a brand afloat.” That has left an impact on me. [see related article]
Fujii Of course the business aspect of it is important. That’s obvious. It’s not that I’m doing anything new. I obviously do obvious things and before I knew it, it was like “wow, 15 years have passed.”
– This 2016 AW’s collection is your 30th season. “Back to Everyday People”. It’s a back to your roots theme. Every season you travel. Does that inspire your collections? Where did you go recently?
Fujii: This time I went to London. When I look back 15 years and think about what I liked the most, it has to be that moment’s London. The current London’s fashion is exactly like 15 years ago. It felt nostalgic. It was good. Yeah, not punk and what have you. It was where I used to work, [SILAS], and [Leviʼs® REDTM] and [maharishi] and [GRIFFIN]. If it was music, it was Fatboy Slim and Underworld, Oasis, and blur to name some. There’s a certain element and feel you can’t find in the US and I like that.
From [nonnative]‘s 2016 AW Collection
– Is going back to your roots something you thought about going into your 15th year?
Fujii: I was kind of stuck on it. Texas was the theme for SS, but the US now . . . The US that I was fond of and what we have now are different. I though that if I visited at least Texas I could find what I was looking for – that America feeling – but no. It wasn’t there. So that happened, the US now is long different, and I figured London is interesting.
– These past few years have been remarkable. There haven’t been deviations from your basic creations, but over the past 15 years, the Fujii style of men’s fashion has been fine tuned thanks to [nonnative].
Fujii: I don’t know. It’s not that I didn’t try to change anything, but I guess you could say that I’m kind of awkward. I’m not the type who can properly handle putting together multiple lines or like a brother brand. But with that said, jeans are the only ones that are the exact same as a fixture of every season.
– The themes inspired by your travels flesh out your framework of already refined style in a good way.
Fujii: What can I say. I feel like “wear these clothes and go somewhere” is a weak point. I guess we wear clothes for a specific purpose and so wearing that and actually going somewhere is something that we absolutely need. Not wearing something just to go out on a date, but yeah. “It’s a tool for travel” type of clothing is slightly different from the type I make. And so before the season starts I travel somewhere without fail. Breathe in the atmosphere of different areas. And that’s how “England” and “America” and etc. become themes. It’s easy to understand and easy to convey I feel.
– Easy to understand?
Fujii: I explain everything to each and every customer directly, so I suppose a more abstract theme might be good as well. But our store staff is increasing and so elements that are easy to understand and easy to explain are necessary. Ours is not the type to base themes off of movies and music. Travel is the best. I suppose videos are easy to focus on. It’s kind of soft though.
– Speaking of videos, the image movies that [nonnative]makes every time are really fun.
Fujii: Akio (TNP’s PR manager, Yamakawa Akio) is in charge of our movies’ direction. I toss out some key words and that’s it. I don’t tell him to focus on specific topics or anything like that. I’m not asked what we should do. We don’t even have meetings concerning the movies. lol. This upcoming season is SS, so I suggested “cowboys” and “NASA”. Retro meets the future. Everyone’s like “ah, okay.” lol. I feel that if we had one meeting after another about the movie’s contents the final product wouldn’t be interesting at all.
– Fashion movies are cool models wearing cool clothes and that more or less makes a cool video. But out of all those types of videos, yours are fresh.
Fujii: In regards to the videos we make, if we have the confidence to say that they’re “cool”, isn’t it more interesting to make them a little lame? It’s encouraging to have staff who can express and do that.
–As far as I know, [nonnative]is the first Japanese brand to upload its image movies onto Vimeo. Not just your brand’s website, but in general you’re quick to get things out on the net.
Fujii: Yeah, but in regards to Internet sales there’s still a part of me questioning how’s it going and how we should go about it. Our country side retailers and other exclusive sellers are important to us. They’re all doing their best to sell our products. But there aren’t any stores stocking our entire collection of 150 pieces and so customers visit our site. “They have that?! They make this?! I want it!” are the type of reactions we hear. So to meet those people’s needs, an EC site (COVERCHORD) is essential.
–[LACOSTE]is a more recent example, but [nonnative]has been doing collaborations for quite a while. [New Balance]‘s collaborative work is one of the longest going, right?
Fujii: We’ve prepared something for this year as well, but I really worried about it. This time I felt like it was impossible and that we should have stopped. But summer last year, during one of my trips, I came across a pair of shoes that gave me inspiration. The folks over at [New Balance]got the shape together for us and it went really well. Actually, they were really surprised. lol. I think it’ll be ready sometime in October or November.
–You showed me a pair and I got to say that it’s exciting. Same with this upcoming pair, but recently you’ve been basing the models on newer designs. Is that something [New Balance]requested?
Fujii: HQ’s policy now is that classic models are off limits. We get to select from a decided category of newer models now. There’s a good selection though. I get to try on different types and choose the ones I feel are solid, but still it’s difficult at times. It’s different from the 1500 and 1700 models and other standard models. Honestly, I’m left questioning if they’ll sell or not. But we’ve worked with the classic models and playing around with the newer models is fun. I suppose that’s all we can do.
– [New Balance]‘s and other fashion brands’ collaborations are a given, but [nonnative]has been at the forefront of fashion trends with a lot of items like jogger pants and collarless shirts.
Fujii: We called those rib pants, but now they’re called jogger pants. [UNIQLO]pushed hard for that name change. lol. And the collarless shirts. We just took off the collars, but after a while I noticed that there was an increase in similar styles. There are quite a few fashion celebrities who always come to our store (vendor)when they visit Tokyo. It seems that they take notice of what we have. Regardless how simple. lol.
–Beyond next season’s [New Balance], you also have something going on with [Converse]‘s Pro Leather, yeah?
Fujii: This will be our first time working with [Converse]. It all came about because of the Pro Leather’s 40th anniversary. It was like “hey, we’re the same age.” But yeah, I suggested three different color variations to be made and the final product came out alright. They’re good. So we decided to stick with the three colors. They have a vintage wooden form and the soles feel right. We did real well. I think they go on sale in September.
Removable Zipper, [nonnative × Converse]‘s Pro Leather. ¥20,000 plus tax/pair
– Speaking of that, [CHROME HEARTS]‘ Richard Stark bought a lot of [nonnative] the other day by the sounds of it.
Fujii: Yeah. They came for his wife’s (Laurie Lynn Stark) personal exhibition. He liked the plant dyed clothes that I made with UNITED ARROWS & SONS (see related article) and bought everything that fit him. After that we had our picture taken together at the exhibition’s opening party. Man, those legs! He’s tall! lol. But he noticed that I didn’t have any [CHROME HEARTS]. I said that I’ve never bought any. Everyone was asking and joking if I’m [goro's]. But it’s this face! I’m not good with accessories and said I don’t even own [goro's]. I even try to avoid watches when I can. Considering though that he just bought a lot of my clothes and it’s rare for me to buy jewelry, I thought it was kind of a fun idea. So the next day I had Yo (UNITED ARROWS’ PR Yoshida Atsushi) take me down to their Harajuku store and bought the simplest key chain there. My first [CHROME HEARTS]. At the age of 39. lol My first ever [CHROME HEARTS]buy. A key chain.
–What else have you bought recently?
Fujii: Beige shoes. That’s about it.
– That figures! lol (see related article)
Fujii: Up until fairly recently I wore mainly black. I’ve never really worn beige shoes, but with like what I’m wearing today, I’ve been wearing softer colors as of late. I recently bought [HOKA ONE ONE]‘s military styled high tops. I tried to buy directly from their site, but they wouldn’t ship to Japan. So after some checking, I found out that Beams is the only store stocking them. I safely got my pair. I’ve yet to wear them once though. lol. Also, what else. I bought [Nike SB]‘s Dunks and some others. (Editor’s Note: complete pictures on the bottom of this page!) Speaking of beige shoes, I’m making a couple of pairs with two other brands. One pair will be out sometime this year and the other will be out at the beginning of next. It’s my first time working with both brands, so I’m looking forward to how everything will turn out.