The designer of TheSoloist sits down with SSENSE coorespondent Tiffany Godoy and talks about pop culture his career and reflects on Number (N)ine. The interview also touches on his designs for his forthcoming FW18 collection which was previously covered HERE. As a big Number (N)one fan over the years, this has to be my favorite tidbit from the story.
What do you think is the biggest difference in your designs between now and when you started?
I can’t really see where I am without taking the next steps. One thing I would say though, is that during the time I was working on NUMBER(N)INE, I hated it when people told me that the design was “so NUMBER(N)INE” because it felt Iike being confined to what people expected of the brand. I want to learn, keep changing, and use different and new lenses every time. I don’t want to repeat the same things.
Read the whole interview on SSENSE.
IT GIRL TOKYO: Caca Co
Third Looks is going international with our latest IT GIRL feature. I’m proud to introduce Caca Co from Tokyo. It is a dream for many women to work in the fashion industry and one that Caca is pursuing to the fullest in Asia. A special thank you goes out to Rajiv Sawhney for producing this feature and making it look fantastic. He will be contributing content from the Japanese fashion scene and documenting his personal journey in the creation of his own namesake label, Sawhney. -Rocky
Words by Rajiv Sawhney
As a budding menswear designer, I had the opportunity to meet Caca, a half-Japanese/half-Chinese fashion student and model through a personal connection several months ago. We quickly became friends given our mutual interests. What struck me most about Caca, aside from her cute looks, was her maturity at a still relatively young age and her deep knowledge and appreciation for the Tokyo scene. Naturally, when I bounced ideas with Rocky about a potential IT GIRL TOKYO edition, Caca immediately came to mind as the first candidate. With the help of fellow friend and photographer, Daisuke Ito, we took to the streets of Daikanyama to bring you the first IT GIRL TOKYO.
Firstly, can you give a quick introduction about yourself?
My name is Caca. I was born in Xian, China and grew up in Tsingtao. My first time visiting Japan was during my sophomore year of high school. I also spent time in Fukuoka and Kyoto for high school and undergraduate college. Currently I’m a graduate student at Bunka Fashion College (http://www.bunka-fc.ac.jp) studying fashion management. To enrich my life and social experience I’m also a part-time model and love to party, enjoying the energy of fashion through Tokyo’s nightlife.
What made you want to come to Japan to study? Did you always want to study fashion?
I wanted to come to Japan for a very simple reason. Since I was a child, I loved Japanese animation and wanted to become an anime artist. However, after studying animation for two years at Kyoto Seika University (http://www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp), I realized that it would be difficult to transmit my points of view and concepts to audiences unless I became an animation director. Meanwhile, like other young girls, I started to take more interest in my make up and styling and gradually became more interested in fashion. Ultimately fashion became my true calling and I quit animation school to study at Bunka. Even though my friends were surprised by my decision, they continue to support what I’m doing. I also want to thank my father for forgiving my willfulness and for continuing to support me.
Outer: Men’s Number (N)ine black destroyed leather napoleon riders jacket
Top: Loveless (http://www.loveless-shop.jp)
Pants: MNG Collection
Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Hat: Loveless (http://www.loveless-shop.jp)
You are now finishing up your final year at Bunka Fashion College. How has the experience been?
Every day I’m exposed to new things and the curriculum is very meticulous and professional. Students can elect to study from a wide variety of majors including design, styling, etc. I chose management as my major. Unlike other majors, we have the opportunity to hold shows, visit shops to do field surveys, and go on the streets to take photographs. The most interesting aspect of my studies has been the analysis of seasonal trends and the emphasis on the brand creation process. My dream is to start my own brand.
You also recently interned at Mark Styler, a major Japanese women’s wear company. Can you describe the experience?
Mark Styler (http://mark-styler.co.jp) is the parent company of my favorite Japanese fashion brand, EMODA (http://www.emoda-japan.com). Through an introduction from my professor, I was honored to receive a month long internship program at the Mark Styler head office to help with their 2012 Autumn/Winter show. Through this internship, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the industry, particularly the unglamorous side of the business. In order to execute a perfect fashion show, every department was extremely busy. I worked in the media department and learned it’s not enough to have a good designer or pattern maker, but also an excellent media department to successfully market a brands image. Frankly speaking, very little differentiates fashionable Japanese brands these days. Therefore, how the media/publicity department markets a brand’s image has become increasingly important. After the fashion show was successfully completed, I realized that all the hard work was worth it. It was a very memorable experience and a great learning opportunity.
Outer: Men’s Dries Van Noten camel wool double breasted coat
Top: Men’s Sawhney navy lace and velvet button-down dress shirt
Skirt: The Dayz Tokyo (http://www.thedayztokyo.com)
Shoes: BeLLE (http://www.belle-co.jp)
What are your thoughts on Tokyo fashion culture? What are the differences you see compared with China?
In Tokyo, each area has its own characteristic style. For example, in ladies fashion there is Shibuya 109 style (http://www.shibuya109.jp), Harajuku style, Aoyama/Omotesando luxury style, Ebisu/Daikanyama pretty style, etc. In addition, each style has been shaped by the area’s history and culture. China has witnessed rapid growth recently but for the older generation unique characteristics in Chinese fashion culture did not exist. Rather, fashion was described more broadly as Korean fashion, Japanese fashion, European fashion, etc. Compared to China, Tokyo fashion has much more individuality and originality, which I think is amazing. That said, I think the Japanese are losing to the current generation of Chinese in terms of foreign intelligence gathering and global fashion interest.
What about menswear? What do you find attractive or interesting about modern Tokyo menswear?
I think women are constantly unfaithful in their loyalty with brands. But for men, once they fall in love with a brand, they can be a loyal customer for a very long time. As a result while women’s wear emphasizes design and styling, menswear puts more importance on quality material used and quality of construction. In a private or work setting, women look at a man’s sense of taste rather than his trendiness. A man that wears well made clothing or shoes gives a woman a sense of security which is a plus. I also think there is a sense of charm. I feel that Tokyo men put a lot of emphasis on styling and coordination. Tokyo men take advantage of accessories, hats, etc to show their style.
Outer: Men’s Mihara Yasuhiro rabbit & goat fur down vest
Parka: Design Works
Shoes: Christian Louboutin
You received a job offer to work for Mark Styler after graduation. What are your thoughts about the future?
That’s correct. I received a job offer in Mark Styler’s global operations department, but recently I’ve been considering the business potentials in China and felt that working in Japan would deter me from my dream, so this month I declined the offer. After graduation, I plan to return back to China and I’m thinking of starting my own brand. At any rate, I think it’s necessary for me to understand the local Chinese market and develop the necessary personal connections.
Special thanks to Daisuke Ito of Trival Inc. for taking time out of his busy schedule to help with the shoot and more importantly Caca for modeling the men’s outerwear during this frigid Tokyo winter. Best of luck in your future endeavors!
Styling: Rajiv Sawhney designer of Sawhney (http://www.sawhney.jp)
Model: Caca Co (http://ameblo.jp/cocaca)
Photographer: Daisuke Ito of Trival Inc. (http://www.dai-ito.com)
Sean wears: Label Under Construction Jacket, Carol Christian Poell L/S shirt, Julius MA Jeans, Julius boots
Sean wears: Rick Owens Stooges FW 2008 Leather Jacket, DRKSHDW Cargo Pants, Damir Doma Creepers
Sean wears: Siki Im Jacket, Rick Owens T-shirt, Undercover trousers, Number (N)ine x Magical Design silver necklace and belt, Guidi Back-Zips
Special thanks goes out to Alex and Wei from Graymarket Brooklyn. All items worn on Sean are available in store at their location 242 Wythe Avenue #7. If you live in NYC you won’t regret visiting and checking out their selection of men’s and women’s archival designer pieces.
It’s a real honor to style profile Izzy Tuason of The Dandy Project. In the fashion industry a strong point of view counts for a lot. Izzy has been showcasing his personal aesthetic and his fashion favorites through his blog for years. His style is eclectic and I’ve always admired his ability to mix designer brands with vintage items, while working in accessories and even DIY pieces. As I shot this with him our conversations ran the gamut from clothes to film to music. I cherish any opportunity to have well-thought out, intellectual discussions on the clothing and culture we love. I’ve shared some of the dialogue we had through interview questions below. Through Third Looks I am striving to bring more of that to the forefront in the coming days.
Comme des Garcons SHIRT chinese character-print rayon shirt
Comme des Garcons Homme Plus drop-crotch shorts
Converse Chuck Taylor shoes
3.1 Phillip Lim tuxedo shirt
3.1 Phillip Lim raw-edged wool shorts
Casio watch on Native American turquoise and coral sterling silver band
Kung-Fu shoes from Chinatown
Has blogging changed your outlook on the fashion industry and your own personal style?
Blogging has worked as a very public mirror by which I can re-examine my thoughts on fashion and my personal style, and it has connected me with people who continue to enrich me.
The DIY posts on your blog are great. How long have you been doing your own DIY projects and what made you decide to share them online?
I’ve been doing the DIY posts early into the blog, which I started in 2008. I was living in Manila then, with very little access to fashion, and the way I thought I could best express myself was by creating my clothing. I wanted to share this process of creation with my readers.
Damir Doma cotton-cashmere long t-shirt
Damir Doma drop-crotch pants
Guidi platform chelsea boots
We spoke on how a lot of your style inspiration from outside of fashion. What are some things or places you turn to for inspiration.
I get inspired by a lot of things—film, television, music, people around me, and the thoughts in my head. Right now, I’m inspired by the sleek masculinity of Wong Kar-Wai’s heroes, the dark pragmatism of Walter White’s wardrobe in Breaking Bad, the exuberance of Twin Shadow, the natives of Bushwick, and the idea of comfort.
Number (N)ine sunglasses
Yohji Yamamoto shirt
Yohji Yamamoto wool hakama pants
Converse Chuck Taylor shoes
As you continue to accumulate more pieces in your wardrobe which item would you never ever part with willingly?
The Yohji Yamamoto pants I’m wearing in one of your photographs are one of my all-time favorites. The volume and size are seemingly ridiculous, but in reality, it is quite a subdued piece. Weird never goes out of style.
Any holy grail pieces you are still searching for or regret missing out on?
Black Guidi derbies
The perfect oversize double-breasted below-the-knee Yohji Yamamoto coat
The perfect body-skimming Julius leather jacket
A Patek Philippe Nautilus in steel
What are some of your favorite places to shop both online and in-store?
The LN-CC, Assembly New York, Atelier New York, IF Boutique, Park & Bond, and eBay.
Photos by Rocky Li
Number (N)ine White Leather Rider’s Jacket w/ Fringes
Number (N)ine FW09 ‘A Closed Feeling’ White Fringed Shirt
Number (N)ine Back Paneled Blazer
Number (N)ine Single Monk Shoes and Creeper shoes
Number (N)ine Floral Print & Charles Peterson Print Jazz Shoes
Yesterday I met up with Izzy from The Dandy Project and shot his Style Profile. It always feels like a privilege to have the ability to peek inside the wardrobes of style influencers whom I respect. Izzy owns tons of amazing pieces which you will be seeing in the very near future but today I chose to focus on his small but impressive collection of pieces from the defunct Number (N)ine by Takahiro Miyashita. As Takahiro continues to make strides in new directions with The Soloist it is always great to look back on his body of work and reflect on the varied styles he’s created.
Photography by Rocky Li
Raf Simons top and Number (N)ine jeans
Number (N)ine shirt and native print jeans
Thom Browne cardigan and polo , Engineered Garments shorts
Jil Sander T-shirt and H&M shorts
My friend Paul took these snaps on a recent trip through Texas. Look for a full style profile on him in the near future.
Photos by Paul Malonzo
Top : Raf Simons SS05 Sleeveless , Number (N)ine Tank
Jeans : Robert Geller
Accessories : Robert Geller Sunglasses, Braided Bracelet, Vintage Japanese Sterling Silver bead bracelet
Shoes : Converse Chuck Taylor
When did you first start becoming interested in fashion and how did you develop that interest into a career?
I first became interested in style through music and skating. I have always drawn and been interested in design, my mom still has these line sheets I would make for skate brands I wanted to start when I was 13. I first got into the fashion industry managing a punk fashion store in DC called Commander Salamander.
I knew I wanted to work in fashion and I figured the best way to get started would be work at a cool shop. I kept working my way up through retail: buying (Deep Sleep Philadlphia, Urban Outfitters) and managing(Denim Bar Arlington. Odin New York) I was learning more about fashion and the business side of it over the years before I began working with Robert Geller as his design assistant. I now work freelance doing styling/wardrobe, graphic design and consulting. Working through the fashion industry the way I did I gained so much hands on experience working with every aspect of the business I’m very fortunate for this.
The greatest experience I’ve gained is through my time with Robert Geller it was an unparalleled experience: the hands on work, the nuances of design, the work required to succeed, the amount I learned was amazing. Working with some one like that in a close small team is something I felt helped me to grow so much.
Jacket : Raf Simons SS08 Blazer
Top : Robert Geller Button Up, Rick Owens Tank
Jeans : Robert Geller
Shoes : Robert Geller x Common Projects Zip Boot
How would you describe your personal style philosophy and the influences that helped inspire it.
I guess the philosophy to my personal style is just founded on wearing things I like by designers who’s aesthetic and ethos appeal to me. I have to believe in something to wear it, I don’t just wear a piece of clothing because it’s cool, that means nothing to me.
I need to feel a connection to the designer, their inspiration, and the construction. All of it is important. The influences of my personal style are ’80’s DC hardcore kids and Japanese street style. I’m pretty understated in my own look to be honest. I pretty much only wear jeans, tee shirts, sneakers and jackets.
You’ve worked as a stylist on many different jobs, what unique challenges does styling present? How has it broadened your perspectives on fashion?
The unique challenges of doing styling jobs are the various demands. It’s a very demanding profession with very little room for error on many jobs. Your working with time constraints, budget constraints, direction coming from different angles whether it be management, production, photographer/director, talent or your self. It’s a balancing act for sure. Styling requires you to always be on your toes and adjust your plan on the fly: concepts, dates these things all change out of the blue you have to be ready you can’t get flustered.
Having worked as a buyer and in sales I guess I’ve had a broad perspective on fashion. Working in different roles you see how different people view and react to fashion reguarly; those jobs helped give me a big upper hand in styling.
Do you do most of your clothes shopping online or in person?
I actually don’t shop much, I think I buy myself more stuff for soccer than clothing for every day. I guess I do buy more in person I like to have that tactile experience of handling the garments myself as well as the instant satisfaction of taking it home then and there.
Jacket : Robert Geller Moto Vest
Tops : Ann Demeulemeester Sleeveless Tee, Number (N)ine Tank
Jeans : UU Uniqlo x Undercover
Accesories : Vintage Japanese Sterling Silver bead bracelet , Braided Bracelet
Shoes : Undercover Chucks
How has your experience as a designer affected how you shop for yourself?
Being a designer affected my shopping a lot, it made me not want to at all really. I wouldn’t say it jaded me at all but I was fortunate to be able have many of the things I wanted because well we made them at Robert Geller. Designing really made me even pickier then I already was about clothing.
Top : Raf Simons AW04-05 Crewneck
Bottoms : Robert Geller Shorts
Shoes : Nike x Undercover Gyakusou Lunarspider +
Accessories : Robert Geller Sunglasses, Ann Demeulemeester Stud Belt, Nike ACG Camo Backpack, Vintage Japanese Sterling Silver bead bracelet , Braided Bracelet
What do you think about the current state of men’s fashion?
I think the current state of men’s fashion is just that its not inspiring. It’s been dull to me, the excitement and youth is gone. Men’s fashion has become a hashtag, an internet idea. Menswear to so many is based on what’s safe (what’s now considered cool): plaid button ups, chinos, loafers etc. Its not about ideas, fits or materials. The excitement of the early 2000’s when menswear really started to take risks and have a youthful edge is gone.
The other big issue I’ve been noticing is that there is so little middle ground, the avant garde have gone way out there and the heritage aesthetics has gotten to be a caricatures of themselves. In the early 2000s you saw Helmut, Heidi, and Raf really intertwine the avante garde design with classic beautiful menswear. For example when Helmut made a perfectly tailored black blazer with elastic bondage straps. That subtlety is gone and I miss it. The mystery and subversion is isn’t there any more, both camps are just trying to hit you over the head with their extremes.
GHSTS of NY.
Special Thanks to Paul Wax for the photography.
Words by Rocky Li
Photography by Paul Wax
Recently I had been hearing from some friends about a new store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called GRAYMARKET. I got in touch with one of the store’s founders Alex Kasavin and he invited me to visit the space this past week. While Williamsburg has been making strides in terms of nightlife and restaurants the neighborhood has never been known for its designer-clothing options. Founders Alex Kasavin and Wei Du set-out to provide what they call ‘archival designer clothing’ for men and women and I am happy to report that they have succeeded in creating a very special shop that stands alone in New York.
On the shops neatly organized racks I found jackets, tops , bottoms and shoes from some of my personal favorite brands : Givenchy, Number (N)ine, Undercover, Rick Owens and Carol Christian Poell just to name a few. It was truly a joy browsing the shop’s strange and wonderful assortment of items that I have always been very particular about mixing and matching with pieces across brands and collections and I am sure anyone with a similar outlook will find something for them at Graymarket.
Alex and Wei were gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about Graymarket.
Please introduce the concept behind Graymarket and how it came to fruition
Graymarket is a retail project inspired by our interest in fashion, art, and alternative modes of commerce. Graymarket offers a curated selection of archival items from a range of artisanal and luxury designers and presents a unique narrative through the juxtaposition of bleak avant-garde and polished glam aesthetics.
Graymarket is the unexpected result of endless hours of discussion. We did not aim to create a retail concept. The idea developed organically and we pursued it.
What made you feel that Williamsburg was the right neighborhood to open your shop?
We have lived, worked, and partied here for many years. We derive constant inspiration from Williamsburg’s vibrant culture of music, art, design, and fashion. We can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Despite the diverse range of pieces across and seasons available for sale there is a certain cohesiveness in the stock you carry. How were you able to curate such an interesting assortment of pieces?
In general we seek out pieces that we see ourselves and our friends wearing. We are especially drawn to garments that bear their creator’s indelible mark and can’t be mistaken for the work of another designer. Beyond that we look for pieces that can be combined to form interesting silhouettes.
I was quite impressed by the womenswear pieces available, does your buying philosophy differ when it comes to women as opposed to men?
We take a similar approach to our women’s selection. Ultimately it’s about finding bold, wearable pieces that convey the vision of the designer.
Which labels or designers have been impressing you of late?
Givenchy! The recent Spring Summer 2013 presentation demonstrates the power and breadth of Riccardo Tisci’s vision. We are impressed with his ability to combine evocative prints with various leitmotifs that range from somber to whimsical with unique color palettes and innovative yet seemingly effortless silhouettes.
Where do you find inspiration for your personal style from outside the fashion world?
We are primarily inspired by our neighborhood, each other, and our friends. We are also influenced by street culture ranging from punk to hip hop, paramilitary attire favored by various revolutionary groups, and contemporary art.
How do you see Graymarket growing and evolving in the future?
This is a wonderful and chaotic time in fashion and we consider ourselves lucky to be a small part of it. We want to do the best that we can now and prefer to take things day by day rather than looking too far ahead.
You can visit Graymarket at 242 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn
Words and Photography by Rocky Li
‘Happy Victims, You Are What You Buy’ by Kyoichi Tsuzuki
Seigensha, Kyoto, 2008. 178 pp., 85 color illustrations, 10½x8″.
Happy Victims is a photo book that profiles Japanese individuals who are obsessed with one particular designer. In the book collectors range from a Buddhist monk who visits his Tokyo condo filled with Comme des Garcons religiously once a month to an instructor at Bunka Fashion College who goes by the name “Maestro Margiela”. The caption underneath his portrait proclaims that he would rather eat out than risk infusing his clothes with cooking smells so he keeps only eardrops in the refrigerator and has never used the cooker.
The book is part of a large body of photojournalist work by Tsuzuki that includes his seminal work ‘Tokyo Style.’ Looking through Happy Victims sheds light on the sacrifices and eccentricities of the obessed Japanese fashion collector. Fashion often criticized for only highlighting the glitz and glamor of the runway; this book only strives to capture clothes in their most honest of settings : the home.
You can purchase a copy HERE
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