One of the heavyweights to emerge from the Ura-Hara era of Japanese streetwear in the mid-90s, NEIGHBORHOOD founder Shinsuke Takizawa has remained mostly in the background in regards to the Western world. Without a well-publicized background to both himself and the brand, NEIGHBORHOOD has seen itself move outwards over the last few years through both global retail points and more visible campaigns and projects.
Inspired by motorcycles and its rebellious lifestyle, throughout the last 16 years, NEIGHBORHOOD has maintained a certain bad boy image throughout streetwear. With powerful graphics and the usage of visuals sometimes construed as culturally insensitive, Takizawa’s recent launch with Hong Kong brand izzue enabled us to sit down with the figurehead while promoting the capsule’s launch. Some European counterparts have taken issue with NEIGHBORHOOD’s usage of icons in the past and that topic among the brand’s motives and inspirations all factor in to this feature.
在90年代，裡原宿街頭掘起了很多潮流勢力，NEIGHBORHOOD創辦人瀧澤伸介就是其中之一 。縱使沒有太多人知道他的背景，但NEIGHBORHOOD在過去幾年內已經靜靜地通過大小不同的跨平台合作向全世界發展 。
Interview: Eugene Kan
Direction: Edward Chiu
Photography: Louis Lau
Interview with Shinsuke Takizawa
It’s been said before that the movie Easy Rider was a big inspiration for you to get into motorcycle culture. But of all the potential creative outlets, was there a particular reason you chose fashion?
The movie’s storyline and the culture that it represented was something that I really related to. The image was something I was extremely interested in and I felt that the best way to represent this was through fashion.
While some people feel that NEIGHBORHOOD’s design is rooted in Americana, you’ve derived a great deal of inspiration from British fashion as well. Why do you feel that NEIGHBORHOOD is sometimes seen more on the American-side of style?
I was deeply influenced by British fashion in the beginnings. However I do have a great appreciation for American heritage and the previous styles. I didn’t have a specific influence or side I wanted to lean towards. I think that fans of the brand made this assumption more so on their own.
With the subcultures that have been so influential in the 20th century such as punk and skate, has there been anything in your eyes that will replace these cultures as major forms of inspiration down the road in the present day?
Once we hit the 1990s, there really hasn’t been any great or noteworthy subcultures. It’s unfortunate but this will undoubtedly ensure that the previous movements you’ve mentioned will continue to live on for years to come.
As I follow your blog on honeyee, there’s quite a few images you post from your Land Snail Racing outings. Could you explain what it’s all about?
We’re essentially a team of racers. We deliberately picked a snail for our mascot given that it’s a slow animal not associated with speed. We race over both drag and road races.
我常瀏覽你honeyee上的博客，有相當多你Land Snail Racing外遊時的相片。能否說一下？
With the nature of racing required upgraded garments and leathers, would you ever enter into full-body leather designs?
It hasn’t crossed my mind right now but you never know.
With your racing and riding background, this seems to enhance the authenticity of the brand. How important is this to the brand itself?
While I never really created fashion explicitly for racing itself, I do want to reflect the culture through fashion and I think living in the world of motorcycles helps me convey this goal.
In your late teens, early 20s, you purchased your first Harley-Davidson. Did you ever keep that bike?
I didn’t keep it but I did pass it along to WTAPS’ TET and I haven’t gotten it back [laugh].
NEIGHBORHOOD has often created classic aesthetics with new-age and contemporary materials. What’s your philosophy on this?
When it comes to vintage apparel, unfortunately it’s sometimes lacking in some details. However, with these new developments in fabrics, you’re able to update the piece and offer a new and well-rounded package.
Looking back to NEIGHBORHOOD’s icons used throughout the brand, it elicits a lot of controversy. What’s the role of these icons in the brand’s identity?
I feel it’s all part of the story-telling of the brand with the slogans and visuals we use.
If I go further on this topic, some are referencing sensitive World War II details. What’s the purpose behind this?
I don’t want to avoid these events as they’ve happened. Despite the sensitive nature of it, the use of the symbols are more of a reflection of history.
What are your favorite parts of the collection to design?
I would say denim and jackets are probably my favorite to design.
Denim has been a popular aspect of the brand for some time. How does the design process work for NEIGHBORHOOD’s denim design?
We definitely look at old worn and vintage styles. However each year, we will research and update our finishing processes and techniques to hopefully create some different looks and washes.
On a personal note, the incense holders have been some of my favorite releases. Any particular stories behind the holders?
A lot of the incense holders we make take on inspirations from traditional Japanese styles and I wanted to carry on this design and representation.
NEIGHBORHOOD has enjoyed a great deal of success both within China and in select markets without any discernible motorcycle culture, what do you equate this popularity to?
NEIGHBORHOOD is unique in its aesthetic and this is largely the strength of the brand. NEIGHBORHOOD possess qualities that other brands don’t have on the same level.
Over the 16 year history of the brand, I’m sure you’ve experienced big changes in the way you run the brand. Do you still maintain the same attitude and DIY-style that was perhaps more prominent in the brand’s infancy?
I’ve taken an approach where I don’t really divide it into both business and DIY. The company is at its heart a humble one and we can decide direction whenever it is necessary. If something requires a more business-minded approach or DIY-approach, both are achievable. I have no specific desires or a need to grow the company far beyond what I’ve achieved now.
This season’s izzue x NEIGHBORHOOD collection is different than the previous one, what was the direction this time around?
Last year’s collection was very small, more so for a pop-up store. This time around we made something a lot more comprehensive and we pushed a more visible military theme.
As you enter this collaboration as well as other collaborations, do you take into account your demographic and then add NEIGHBORHOOD’s own twist?
We don’t really worry so much about the demographics involved. We hope to maintain our own creative vision without really taking into account who the consumer may be, however that does mean that we are aware of what sort of parties we may partner up with.
相比起上一次的系列，本季izzue x NEIGHBORHOOD系列的風格有些不同， 這一次的設計概念是甚麼?