Dubbed “the godfather of Harajuku,” Hiroshi Fujiwara is one of the most important figures in Japanese streetwear. Starting in the 1980s, his eye for design, innovation and ‘stealth’ growth through collaboration has seen his three-man design agency – fragment – consult the likes of Levi’s, Nike and most recently Starbucks on their ‘B-Side’ project in the Omotesando fashion district. Recently, in partnership with Murakami, he started retaW, the first brand to truly embrace the combination of fashion with skincare and fragrance. In an exclusive interview with Niven & Joshua, HF sat down to talk about the industry. Read choice excerpts below and check out the full article here.
The fragrance industry is a relatively new expansion for you, what made you decide it was the right time to create retaW? Where did the idea for retaW come from?
The idea for retaW came from a conversation I had with Murakami (CEO of Blender). I wanted to create something with fragrance, he had knowledge about cosmetics, and so the retaW products grew from there.
Is fragrance something that you’ve always been interested in since your early days, or an interest that has developed over time?
Working with fragrance is very new for me and something that I find very interesting.
In your interview with Fraser Cooke you speak of ‘having a high respect for source material’ which is one of many reasons your projects have been so successful. What was the inspiration behind retaW and is there any particular source material you referenced in retaW’s creation?
Not exactly in this case, because the scent itself has nothing to do with material; it’s more like something that you feel or get from your surroundings. It’s a very new concept for me to try.
The fragrances of the retaW products are all so unique, both in their construction and their potency. Is there any special process involved in their manufacture? Are they made in special factories in Japan?
As retaW comes from Japan, all of the products are made in Japan using authentic Japanese ingredients. We take our time creating the fragrances – not just the ingredients, but in the entire fragrance construction – that’s what makes all the retaW fragrances so original. There are many steps involved in developing the fragrance as we are trying to create something that is not only unique, but can be treated in the similar way to fashion and integrated into your daily life.
On the retaW packaging it’s interesting to see that the location is set as ‘Aoyoma/Tokyo’. Does the combination of the more exclusive Aoyama district with the metropolitan Tokyo inspire retaW? How does Aoyama inspire retaW?
I spend a lot of time in Aoyama, and I like that city, so it seemed natural to include it in the branding.