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ONEEIGHTNINE catch-up with designer Hiroshi Awai and his label CREEP. The story of Awai’s intervention into CREEP is an interesting one as his involvement came around the time the brand had wanted to expand into North America. However, given that CREEP’s original head, Awai’s brother was unfamiliar with the North American landscape, he enlisted Awai due to his time spent living in Canada. Some interesting insights are offered in regards to the complexities Japanese designers face when expanding outside of their domestic confines. A selection of questions and answers are seen below with the whole interview seen here.
Osaka is a long way from where we live, tell us a little about the place and its culture?
People in Osaka are really nice and friendly (sometimes too friendly) and are very loud, but in a good way. Osaka also has the best food. I think italians are kind of similar to the people of Osaka. In terms of shopping, I think Osaka pretty much has what Tokyo would have, maybe Tokyo has a bit more of a selection and more limited edition stuff.
Also, people in Osaka dresses funkier than Tokyo. I think people in Osaka are not afraid of being conspicuous by dressing in what they wanna wear. The city is not as clean as Tokyo though… And a lot of thugs and “homies”.
Explain to our readers the differences of how design is approached in Japan compared to Europe and America?
I think European and North American clothes are made/designed with more attention to how the garment fits, the basic structure and its functionality and comfort than Japanese clothes. Japanese designers put more importance on how it looks, and not so much attention to the fitting or functionality. This is because everyone in Japan pretty much has a similar height and body type, they don’t have to worry about the fitting so much. Like some brands in Japan only makes one size.
But in Europe or North America, because there are so many different nationalities living in the same country, everyone has different body types. So fitting is very crucial to a brands success.
But please don’t get me wrong. I’m just generalising this. There are some Japanese brands who pay a lot of attention to fitting, and North American brands who puts more importance on the design and not fitting.
Tell us a little about how you became creative director at CREEP, and what did you look to implement from the offset?
I joined the company in 2005 as a North American sales agent / production manager to help out my brother’s business expansion in North America. At the time, he was seeking the expansion of his business in North America very aggressively.
However, his line was not getting a good response in the North American market because of the difference between the Japanese avant-garde design and the North American trends. He quickly realised that in order to truly understand the culture in that country, you have to live in that country.
At that time I had been living in Canada for 8 years and he knew that I always had a love for traditional American workwear, he thought that I could bridge the gap between these two different cultures.