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Despite the exodus of Japan’s Levi’s offices in recent times, Japan remains well-represented with the launch of the new diffusion label, Levi’s® Lefty Jean by Takahiro Kuraishi. Comprised of a heavyweight design pairing of Takahiro Miyashita of Number (N)ine fame and Kazuki Kuraishi. who’s previous gigs have included adidas Originals, fragment design and CASHCA, the two kick off Levi’s® Lefty Jean by Takahiro Kuraishi with an interesting new collection. The dynamics of the brand lie in the ability to balance the visions and respective philosophies of both Kuraishi and Miyashita. We examine their relationship and the ability to work together in the following interview.
Interview: Eugene Kan
Interview with Kazuki Kuraishi & Takahiro Miyashita
First off, how did you two originally meet? Have you worked together in the past?
Miyashita: ………around the corner..………maybe.
Kuraishi: I first saw Miyashita when I was working at BAPE, but I didn’t get a chance to speak to him there. When BAPE and Number (N)ine collaborated on products, I was in charge of the graphic design, which was a memorable experience. The first time we really got to collaborate in depth, was when visvim and Number (N)ine created a 3L jacket together.
What are your first thoughts with Levi’s?
Miyashita: I’m still thinking ………please let me know the answer.
Kuraishi: My initial impression of Levi’s was that it was a little conservative. But they were flexible when we wanted to change some of the rules. I first had to think of how to make Miyashita’s designs into reality. In order to do that, I had to think of how to break the rules of Levi’s.
How would you describe the design and philosophy behind Left Handed?
Miyashita: We used to be the left handed people.
Kuraishi: Both of us are originally left-handed. My parents tried to raise me so I would be right handed, but I sometimes reverted to being left-handed. I think there are other people like that in the world, and our designs reflect that. We felt that there would be other people that would appreciate our designs in that sense.
Relative to other materials, how do you approach working with denim?
Miyashita: ………same thing………
Kuraishi: I’m not especially conscious of having a different approach to denim. We are making a set of nylon tops and bottoms, and a set of denim tops and bottoms that are the exact same design. The nylon item will be a raincoat you can wear over the denim.
What are some aspects of Levi’s you want each piece of the collection to have?
Miyashita: See the collection!!!
Kuraishi: We tried not to deviate too far from the traditional Levi’s, but at the same time we wanted to make them completely different from normal Levi’s.
Do you think that the success of this collection is due to your different backgrounds and aesthetics in design?
Miyashita: Maybe, I and Kazuki are very different people.
Kuraishi: What we both design on our own are different, but there are common elements that run through our work. We also share an eye for what we perceive to be good design.
How do you two balance the design?
Miyashita: Good question! I just wanted to know it.
Kuraishi: Miyashita gives me the initial sketch, and then I work on turning it into an actual product. We obviously discuss and exchange ideas at every step of the production process. Miyashita’s sketches are highly developed, so my job is to think of ways to turn it into a product.
What are some of your personal highlights with this first collection?
Miyashita: Left… Left… Left…
Kuraishi: The biggest highlight is that Miyashita actually collaborated with me. We created a new persona from this collaboration, and named it Takahiro Kuraishi.
With the end of Number (N)ine, will we see any other personal projects which include your full creative vision?
Miyashita: Have you ever seen the rain?
With a love of technical materials, will we see this incorporated into the Left Handed collection?
Kuraishi: We are making a rain suit that can be layered over denim. So I am applying the techniques that I use in my adidas line.
Where will this debut collection be available?
Miyashita: I have no idea.
Kuraishi: The product will be available in Levi’s stores and boutiques.