Helmed by three brothers with a passion for simple and functional designs, the vision of Ne.Sense emerged in 2013 and has come to full fruition with the unveiling of its first brick and mortar in its hometown, Taipei. Pivoted by quality, Ne.Sense looks to fashion as a language to communicate its message – that style can’t be bought but only attained via one’s lifestyle and virtuous outlook. Stocking acclaimed international brands — such as Stampd, SECOND/LAYER, 424 Fairfax — alongside fledgling labels from the Asia-Pacific region, Ne.Sense bridges the gap between the East and West while broadening the perspective of local fashion aficionados with upcoming trends. Inspired by the five elements of Chinese philosophy: water, fire, wood, metal and earth, the impressive interior of Ne.Sense also deserves recognition. It employs concrete slabs and exposed brickwork alongside geometric wooden panels. Magnetic hangers offer riffs of modernity and complement the minimalist interior. Tucked behind the counter are stairs to the VIP loft. There, industrial filing cabinets are coupled with leather sofas, offering a vintage feel in departure from the generous showroom space below. Despite its progressive semblance, a rare Originalfake x Medicom Toy sits in the corner beside a shelf of art books. These ornamental pieces pay homage to the Hiseh brothers’ longstanding affinity with street culture.
Shot by Sean Marc Lee, enjoy the recap images alongside an interview in which the brothers explain the Ne.Sense concept, Taipei’s retail market, and how the three work as a team. To stay updated with Ne.Sense follow them on Instagram, Facebook and their webpage.
“We believe sense is built within us or attained via lifestyle and experience. You can’t really chase it, you have to nurture it and build it through time.”
Can you introduce yourself and your role at Ne.Sense?
Steve: I’m the Creative Director and the youngest of the three, based in Los Angeles.
Michael: I’m the Executive Director of the store and I’m based in Taipei.
Richard: I’m the oldest and I’m the Marketing Director, based in Tokyo.
Could you offer an overview of Ne.Sense?
Ne.Sense is a store that combines showroom and a pop-up concept. Instead of displaying everything at once, we showcase garments according to themes each month within our retail space and have a VIP room for customers that are interested in getting a full glance of our collection. Ne.Street is our consulting label through which we help other brands curate lookbooks and styling shoots. We’ve done creative consultation for I Love Ugly and Aime Leon Dore thus far.
How does Ne.Street reflect the label’s sensibility?
Having a good understanding of design and marketing, our styling work builds a different perspective into the brands without disrupting their key concepts. This means we will shoot in alternative locations and cast models under our own direction. But the feel will still coincide with our client’s core motif.
Where does the name Ne.Sense come from?
Sense, like style, is related to taste. We believe sense is built within us or attained via lifestyle and experience. You can’t really chase it, you have to nurture it and build it through time.
How will you add to Taipei’s emerging fashion market?
Many new stores have opened this year. We want to give back to our hometown what we’ve learned from our travels. As we live in three different countries, our curation reflects our regional tastes, stocking brands from Los Angeles alongside emerging Asian labels. The local market is infatuated with high-end brands like Rick Owens and Tom Ford, but we offer more affordable brands that don’t forgo quality. We also work with emerging brands so we can help build each other.
“One of the hardest obstacles we’re facing is how to change the local view towards fashion. There’s a common misconception that one has to wear high-end brands or pieces with a myriad of graphics to be stylish.”
Do you curate the store based on the local audience?
As the door says, “doubt nothing”. We urge customers to drop their preconceptions at the door and be prepared for an exciting retail experience.
Were there any exclusive items for the launch?
For the launch, we worked with KILLSPENCER for a bracelet. It is a high-end version of the bracelets you get on entry of a nightclub. We upgraded the plastic wristbands to leather, and added the brass plate which develops a characteristic patina over time.
What are the benefits and challenges of being based in Taipei?
One of the hardest obstacles we’re facing is how to change the local view towards fashion. There’s a common misconception that one has to wear high-end brands or pieces with a myriad of graphics to be stylish. Aesthetics and design are often overlooked. The emphasis shouldn’t be on the brands but on the quality and detailing. It’s how you choose to express yourself and the arrangement of pieces. Taipei is also a small market so it’s a challenge to attract like-minded individuals. Yet the benefits of smallness are that few stores are carrying the brands we stock. Customers can pick up pieces at Ne.Sense that they won’t find in other Taipei stores.
Do you use any specific marketing strategies?
Steve works at Stampd L.A., so he has learned a lot about social media marketing from Chris Stamp. Chris’s help has enabled Steve to launch this whole store with us brothers. We all learned that if each release and set of images are on point, people will want to get connected right away.
How does Ne.Sense’s interior fit the brand’s concept?
The design of the store is to merge Eastern and Western sensibilities by incorporating five traditional Chinese elements of nature: water, fire, wood, metal and earth. These elements represent balance and foundation. You can see the five elements in this store: from the wooden cabinets and floorboards to the rustic rails and burnt curtains. The waterfall design in our bathroom tap is inspired by rain, but what engages customers most is the exposing concrete interior and dangling branch in the middle. Other interior decorations such as the Medicom toy and vintage ornaments are from our own collectibles. They’re sentimental pieces that represent our journey. We’re pitching our interior for 2015’s international iF Design Award.
“We’re brought up to be comrades. Family and religion is everything. People can come and go, but family is family.”
What could you say about the local shopping habits?
Since there’s no fashion week theme at all in Taiwan, the lack of streetstyle bloggers and streetstyle photographers really creates a gap for emerging fashion trends. A lot of people lack cohesiveness with their style. We try to fill this gap.
Is there any forthcoming collaboration you can let us in on?
We’re collaborating with I Love Ugly and ETQ to create exclusive styles and colorway for the upcoming season with details soon to be announced. We’ll also continue our creative consulting work, in addition to an in-house line which we’re currently designing.For our first anniversary, we’ll have a special project so stay tuned.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
Eugene Tong. He’s from Taiwan and we look up to his style. We continue to admire Kanye West for his elegant and simple designs in fashion and footwear. Our father also has great style. We always joke around, comparing him to Nick Wooster. Lastly, through our stay in Japan, Poggy has also become a style icon for us, as he effortlessly combines street aspects into formal styling.”
As brothers how do you work so cohesively?
We’re brought up to be comrades. Family and religion is everything. People can come and go, but family is family. Steve is the creative mind, Richard is a people person, so the PR, if you will. Michael is the hand who bridges our ideas together. We trust each other’s decisions and positions within the label, so we never really quarrel. When you work with a partner there might be working hours, but because we’re brothers there’s no timeoff. We’re working 24/7, but we love it and keep brainstorming.