If you love prints and fashion-forward cuts you can’t miss the chance to check out Japanese fashion label mintdesigns at the Hello, Shibuya Tokyo Fashion & Culture Mix Show with Singapore pop-up shopping event. mintdesigns will be one of over 20 Japanese fashion and lifestyle brands on sales at the Hello, Tokyo Shibuya event that will be held from February 22 to March 10, 2013, at Plaza Singapura.
Designed by Mr Hokuyo Katsui and Ms Nao Yagi, mintdesigns is known for its beautiful prints and unique Japanese textiles. Begun over 10 years ago, the brand is a combination of both designers’ imaginations drawn from their interactions with each other, as well as working closely with the factories that produce their original fabrics.
In early January 2013, thanks to the team from Parco Japan, the organisers of the Hello, Shibuya Tokyo event, herworldPLUS had the chance to sit down and chat with the designers in their studio strewn with inspirational images, swatches of printed fabrics and lots of posters featuring typography, something Hokuyo Katsui says he’s personally very influenced by.
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE BRAND, MINTDESIGNS?
NAO YAGI: Pattern? Print? Both at the same time. In principle, we work on the ideas and the pattern and then secure the fabric since it takes time to dye the material; and also [to organise] the manufacturing [of the fabrics]. We also sometimes visit the country of origin [of the fabric] and this takes time too.
HOKUYU KATSUI: The ideas versus the fabric; the idea is not 100 per cent fixed from the beginning, we change ideas throughout the process depending on the materials [available]. In principal we work together throughout all the processes, from next week we’re going looking for fabric [for the next collection]. We spend a lot of time on the fabric, and sometimes we’ll talk about the colours etc.
Why are patterns and colours the focus? That’s a difficult question to answer, ‘there must be some reason behind why’. [Smiles] We like graphics, books, typography … and therefore patterns I suppose.
IS THERE SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOUR BRAND PARTICULARLY ‘JAPANESE’ OR IS IT A MORE GLOBAL CONCEPT?
NY: Not really – we studied at St Martins [in London] – and we were told our work is very ‘Japanese’ but when we came back to launch to the brand, Japanese journalists said it looked very European. We think it’s quite unique – particularly with colour usage.
DO YOU LIKE TO BE IDENTIFIED AS ASIAN / JAPANESE DESIGNERS?
HK: Almost all of our fabrics are made in Japan, so they are Japanese in that way – we don’t actually think about it, but there is automatically some influence – I call it the ‘Tokyo influence’ – at the same time we’re proud that we’re supporting Japanese talent.
DO YOU THINK SINGAPORE SHOPPERS OR PEOPLE OUTSIDE JAPAN KNOW MUCH ABOUT YOUR BRAND?
NY: We’ve never been to Singapore even though its relatively close … We hear that rich people buy our clothes and take them to different countries; Singapore consumers are quite different, our Japanese shoppers tend to be more female students.
HK: We do have fans outside Japan – Taiwan is our biggest market outside Japan – but they’re mainly in Asia. Asian buyers come to Tokyo collection [Japan Fashion Week] or have seen it in magazines; there are not so many European buyers yet.
But our designs – I don’t know why or how; maybe the internet? – people are have found us online, we’ve got two European interns, from Denmark and Germany … and they contacted us directly.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE INTEREST OF THE WESTERN FASHION INDUSTY IN ASIAN DESIGNERS / ASIAN INFLUENCES? IE. SS13 COLLECTIONS – PRADA / GUCCI ETC
HK: This is a very interesting question. I question how much difference they can recognise between the different Asian countries; the [economic] power of China means they are the focus but not much of their actual culture seems used. Prada was the most ‘Japanese’, but it’s more about the character of Japan – their understanding is of the anime and kawai’i culture – and that’s strange for Japanese people.
DOES THIS BOTHER YOU AS JAPANESE FASHION DESIGNERS?
NY: We don’t care much about people’s misunderstandings It’s the design that matters.
HK: And design conscious people from other countries – they understand – but it’s about how to communicate to the masses that’s important. Sometimes its just easier to show the products, it’s hard to explain; so this time we’ll go to Singapore and we’ll be about to show what it is that we do – speak to local journalists – and hopefully people will be better able to understand what we’re doing at mintdesigns.
The mintdesigns Spring Summer 2013 collection will be available at the Hello, Shibuya Tokyo Fashion & Culture Mix Show with Singapore pop-up shopping event that will run from February 22 to March 10, 2013, and will be held at the Main Atrium, Level 1, Plaza Singapura daily from 11am to 9.30pm and until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free. For more information about mintdesigns, go to www.mint-designs.com. For more information about Hello, Shibuya Tokyo, go www.helloshibuyatokyo.jp or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/helloshibuyatokyo.