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A Conversation with Shinsuke Takizawa
Since the mid 1990s, NEIGHBORHOOD has been one of Japan’s greatest streetwear exports. Founded by self-professed Americana junkie Shinsuke Takizawa, the brand has been a driving force in branding, quality and at times controversy due to some of its chosen graphics in the past. Upon a recent trip to Hong Kong, we spoke with Takizawa regarding aspects of his brands including LUKER by NEIGHBORHOOD, NHIZ and the overall philosophy of the brand.
Aside from fashion and motor culture… I also love vintage items and garments from America. The history and quality of them are something that you can’t get from any another culture.
Every piece of NEIGHBORHOOD has… a strong sense of vintage aesthetics. My aim is to recreate and reconstruct items from the past and introduce them with modern fabrics and applications. Finding out the different stories behind each piece is a pretty fun process for me.
The power of image and iconography… is something that I look into every season. I normally start off with a theme and then I’ll research into the imagery and iconography that are connected with the idea for the graphical side of the collection. I don’t just replicate them exactly and rework them if the original graphic is not strong enough.
After March’s events with the earthquake and tsunami… I found myself in a position where I should be initiating charity projects for the disaster. However, I think what more important thing is to face the problem head-on and look into the future positively, instead of stopping production or projects because of what happened.
Finding themes and creativity each season… is not such a difficult process for me. It’s much harder in the high-end sphere as labels have to keep reinventing themselves and discover themes and stories that are fresh and unique. So for me, it’s all about re-exploring the themes which I love, i.e. punk and the ’90s. Looking deeper into a period is more of a challenge than picking new themes to work with. For example, I love the cultures from the ’60s, as it was a period where everything like music and fashion blew up, so why do I have to look elsewhere when everything can be found in that period?
When comparing LUKER by NEIGHBORHOOD and NEIGHBORHOOD… LUKER is more of a sub-label and a new creative outlet for me to work with iconic British aesthetics, while the NEIGHBORHOOD line is all about American styles. I actually started off favoring British sensibilities first, so having the LUKER line is like looking back at my roots.
The NEIGHBORHOOD x IZZUE “NHIZ” collaboration project… is an experiment to find out what NEIGHBORHOOD and a mass label like IZZUE can come up together. Inspired by similar aesthetics, it was an interesting journey to create products which have the characteristics of both labels.
The future of NHIZ… is to get into the China market. It is very different to the rest of the world so we want to know how they’ll react to our products and how we can reach them in unconventional ways.
Controversy is something that… I have no control of. I didn’t choose certain graphics because they’re controversial or they’ll get people talking. I chose them because I think they’re good designs and good designs are everlasting. I’m also in love with the rebellious nature of the ’60s and ’70s, so with these logos and iconography, I can reflect these ideologies and recreate them into new forms.
The rebellious nature of NEIGHBORHOOD… stems from everyone’s inner self. I’m sure we’ve all been in a position where we want to be a renegade. Fashion has lost this factor since the ’90s, so that’s why I want to keep making clothes to prolong this movement.
If I wasn’t doing what I was doing now… I would probably be a boring white-collar worker [laughs]. I think I was lucky to be born in a period where opportunities were widely available. If the Harajuku boom didn’t happen, then I don’t think I would be doing what I’m doing now.