ICYMI: The Business of HYPE With jeffstaple, Episode 1: Hiroshi Fujiwara of fragment design (REDUX)

While BOH takes a brief hiatus, revisit our interview with the fragment design head honcho where he explains how he makes lightning strike twice, over and over again.

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ICYMI: The Business of HYPE With jeffstaple, Episode 1: Hiroshi Fujiwara of fragment design (REDUX)
Business of HYPE
4,497 Hypes 0 Comments

The Business of HYPE is a new weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. BOH focuses on streetwear entrepreneurs and the business decisions, trials and tribulations that got them where they are today.

While BOH takes a brief hiatus, we thought we’d bring back one of the highlights of season one: namely, Jeff’s in-depth sit-down with fragment design head honcho Hiroshi Fujiwara. If you missed it the first time around, tune in to hear how Fujiwara approaches design from a collaborative perspective. He also explains how and why he only needs three employees to run his design empire. That’s right: Fujiwara’s myriad brands, companies, diffusion lines, imprints and toast cafes, are maintained by a small, tight-knit team of long-time confidants.

Hiroshi himself is notoriously tight-lipped about the inner workings of the company and how he makes lightning strike twice, over and over again, but this interview is the closest we’ll get to an explanation.

In case you missed it when it premiered, click play on the episode above. Then go and subscribe to HYPEBEAST Radio on Podcasts, Soundcloud, Twitcher, Overcast, and wherever else you find your pods. Then, leave us a comment or a review.

This episode contains references to the following:

02:28: Undercover

02:29: Louis Vuitton

02:50: Fragment Watchband

04:15: Headporter

04:16: GoodEnough

07:19: Park-ing Ginza

07:20: Pool Aoyama

07:45: Jun Japan Corporation

12:13: Balmuda

12:37: Bonjour Records

12:48: WTaps

12:50: Vanquish

12:51 Burton

12:54 Retaw

13:29: Honeyee.com

13:33: Ring Of Colour

16:06: Kiyonaga / Soph

16:07: Hiroki Nakamura / Visvim

20:06: Sk8thing

20:52: Sacai

22:26: Starbucks

22:28: Levi’s

24;33: Nike HTM Court Force

24:36: Nike HTM Sock Dart

30:30: Hiroshi’s Hometown, Ise, Japan

32:56: A Cold Wall

33:53: StockX.com

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Episode Transcript

ICYMI: The Business of HYPE With jeffstaple, Episode 1: Hiroshi Fujiwara of fragment design (REDUX)

While BOH takes a brief hiatus, revisit our interview with the fragment design head honcho where he explains how he makes lightning strike twice, over and over again.


Jeffstaple: Let’s see.

Jeffstaple: So thanks for doing this interview. The show is called Business of HYPE.

Hiroshi F.: Okay.

Jeffstaple: So oftentimes we talk about how to inspire people to follow their dreams. But this one, this show that I’m doing is more specific. It’s more about business stuff, not just follow your dreams, but the reality of doing it. So in this talk you can be much more business minded.

Hiroshi F.: Right.

Jeffstaple: All right. So do you have your phone on vibrate?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: From HYPEBEAST Radio, I’m Jeffstaple and this is the Business of HYPE, a show about creative entrepreneurs, brand builders, hustlers, and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. If you’re a reader of HYPEBEAST, then this man really requires no introduction.

Jeffstaple: Hiroshi Fujiwara and his company, Fragment Design, basically laid the foundation for street culture as we know it today. Back in 1998, I flew to Tokyo to meet and interview Hiroshi for The FADER magazine. I was an art director and a journalist for the magazine back then. At that time it was the first piece of US press ever written about him. And now today I got him for what might be his first US podcast interview.

Jeffstaple: For all his contributions to the culture, you’ll find Hiroshi’s incredibly humble, incredibly funny, and succinct. I don’t want to waste any more time, so let’s get right into it.

Jeffstaple: First thing, please introduce yourself, who you are, what you do.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. I’m Hiroshi Fujiwara and I do The Fragment, I guess.

Jeffstaple: I guess?

Hiroshi F.: That’s what I can say, yeah.

Jeffstaple: All right, thanks for doing this interview. I think many people, especially on the HYPEBEAST community, can know what you do and know the works that you’ve put out. So I don’t want to talk about which sneaker and which collab you did. I want to break down the different operations that your company has done and then you can kind of talk about each one.

Hiroshi F.: Right.

Jeffstaple: Right. So, because you’ve had your hand in many different things like magazine, retail, fashion, collaboration. And then also Fragment, as a company first. So maybe let’s start there. Fragment is a company…

Hiroshi F.: Fragment is a company.

Jeffstaple:  Describe this company.

Hiroshi F.: Oh, Fragment is a company myself and Kojiro and [inaudible 00:02:14] three of us, just the three of us. And our policy is we’re not making product in Fragment. We just do help people. Or, we just go by myself to work with a undercover [inaudible 00:02:30] those kinds of things. So we don’t manufacture, we don’t have a, you know, ADR to do that. Yeah.

Jeffstaple: But I feel like many people know you as a brand that they want to buy. Like we want to buy fragment things.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: But you say you don’t make any-

Hiroshi F.: We don’t, we don’t really make it. Maybe sometimes I would spend just a smaller pieces we can make, because no one else does it.

Jeffstaple: So you make it yourself?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: But you try to partner with someone who can make it, right?

Hiroshi F.: Mm-mmm. Not really partner, I just go there and Jamie say, I get little [inaudible 00:03:07].

Jeffstaple:  And would you call it then like a consultancy?

Hiroshi F.:  I don’t know. Is a-

Jeffstaple: Consulting agency kind of thing?

Hiroshi F.: I don’t know. No, maybe.

Jeffstaple: Not really right?

Hiroshi F.: No, it’s something else. I think maybe just the brand.

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Well, the big difference between a consultancy and fragment, I think is that consultancy would work with anybody. Anybody who called, they’ll help them.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: But you’re like-

Hiroshi F.: Fragment is more design kind of, not really consultant kind of thing.

Jeffstaple: And I think because it comes from you. If you don’t really love the product or the brand, you won’t really just work with it, right?

Hiroshi F.: Right.

Jeffstaple: Okay. And I think a lot of people would be surprised to hear that fragment is only…

Hiroshi F.: Three.

Jeffstaple: Three. Really founder, you, and two. Do you really purposely want to keep it that small?

Hiroshi F.: Yes.

Jeffstaple: Why don’t you want to have a big company? Most people want to have a big corporation.

Hiroshi F.: No, that’s killing my freedom, I think. And also I don’t want to take a risk with hiring people and making company bigger and bigger every year. Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: I had a company I was… It’s still there, but like Headquarter [inaudible 00:04:19] When I did Headquarter, maybe maximum was 25 employees, but still it was really pressure for me. I have to keep thinking about just how are these. Or I don’t want to make a big company because its a risk. And then-

Jeffstaple: When you say you want to make it your size, you mean you kind of want to see your full capacity?

Hiroshi F.: My capacity, yeah. I want to walk in my capacity and my capacity is really small-

Jeffstaple: I see.

Hiroshi F.: I found.

Jeffstaple: Well everyone’s capacity is actually really small cause you’re just one person, and the way a corporation works is you add many people so that your capacity is bigger than one man. But you want to just keep it your capacity?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Interesting.

Hiroshi F.: Solo, I think.

Jeffstaple: I see. Okay. Why is-

Hiroshi F.: Also I don’t want to lend to money or borrow money. I don’t want to get somebody else’s money at all. I just want to do it with my money so I don’t borrow any money at all. That’s what I envision.

Jeff Staple: Hiroshi is sort of known as a tastemaker for the finer things in life. If you follow him on Instagram you’ll see him staying at the Aman resort or eating at a five star restaurant that Michelin doesn’t even know about, or wearing some six-figure Rolex that he just won at an auction.

Jeff Staple: So I wanted to dive into how fragment generates income and also how he feels about retail in this day and age. After all, even though he says fragment doesn’t quote unquote make anything, it does fall under his jurisdiction how the public is able to obtain his creations.

Jeffstaple: And fragment as a design company, like you said, do you typically, is it like normal design company? Like you charge a fee or is it always percentage based?

Hiroshi F.: Mm-hmm.

Jeffstaple: Which one is it? Or both?

Hiroshi F.: Both.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: It depends on-

Jeffstaple: When did it start, fragment?

Hiroshi F.: Oh, I can’t remember. 15 years ago, I think. 10 years. 15 years? Yeah.

Jeffstaple: And before that it was Goodenough Headquarter?

Hiroshi F.: Goodenough. Yeah. Headquarter. Electrical days, yeah.

Jeffstaple: Electric cottage was also kind of a big company.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah not big company, small. Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Okay. So let’s talk about some of the other businesses that you did in the past. So you did retail stores, right? Because Goodenough had a retail store.

Hiroshi F.: No, I didn’t. They didn’t have any good…

Jeffstaple: Oh headquarter has-

Hiroshi F.: Headquarter and Readymade.

Jeffstaple: Readymade, that’s right.

Hiroshi F.: [crosstalk 00:06:38] that’s Readymade yeah.

Jeffstaple: How do you feel about retail business?

Hiroshi F.: It’s difficult for me because I over change the interior and everything, so it takes many times and it takes money. So it’s, I think it’s a really hard business to do the retail, for me anyway.

Jeffstaple: Even… so for you always, even with not counting because of eCommerce or the future. Not counting that, it was still hard for you to-

Hiroshi F.: For me, yeah. I cannot think about… I can’t make out strategy, how to sell and that kind of thing so much. I need someone which means makes company bigger.

Jeffstaple: But recently you’ve done some really successful retail. So you did PARK-ING GIZMA, POOL aoyama. So those are-

Hiroshi F.: That is like, I produced.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Right. It’s like the fragment model. You have a-

Hiroshi F.: Yeah, exactly. I don’t have to do that kind of situations.

Jeffstaple: How do you go about picking the right people to help you with this?

Hiroshi F.: It’s basically friends basis. And if I know them, like I know the president of Jun very well, so he has come-

Jeffstaple: Jun is a company?

Hiroshi F.: Jun is a company who did a POOL or PARK-ING, and he asked me to do something, and then I was bringing some people who I really trust.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. A PARK-ING was also in partnership with Sony a bit. Right. Sony had a hand in that, didn’t it?

Hiroshi F.: PARK-ING the property of Sony.

Jeff Staple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Yep.

Jeffstaple: But nothing else, they just gave you the property?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: And they kind of agree me to make a product to their own tee shirts or that kind of things, which never happened.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. How do you get… June is a huge company in Japan, right? Yeah. How do you get a huge company in Japan like June, and a huge company in the world like Sony and you, which is just one man and two employees to work together to open this amazing space. How does that happen?

Hiroshi F.: Well that’s again, the friend basis, I knew him very well when he was working as a… the fashion business when he was like 20 years old or something.

Jeffstaple: June?

Hiroshi F.: June the president.

Jeffstaple: Okay the president of June.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah And Sony. I’ve been working for Sony, not really working but news and long time making like cell phones and things. I was helping to making it.

Hiroshi F.: So now he’s a CEO of Sony. Sony has a big company but Sony building in Ginza, there’s the one company. And he’s a CEO of Sony building, but he used to be kind of my type people working together. So it’s really old friends.

Jeffstaple: And when you have this idea, do you have to like present them with a vision of [crosstalk 00:09:27]

Hiroshi F.: No not at all. No, I just go and talk.

Jeffstaple: So it’s just over dinners and stuff like that?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah something like that.

Jeffstaple: Okay. So it’s very, very organic.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. I never makes those kinds of the what they call..

Jeffstaple: Strategy plan.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: You never made a PowerPoint?

Hiroshi F.: No.

Jeffstaple: Do you know how to use PowerPoint?

Hiroshi F.: Not really. What was the other one that we [crosstalk 00:09:47].

Jeffstaple: Keynote?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah, keynote. I can make it because of, I teach in college, so I make something a little bit.

Jeff Staple: If you want to work with most corporations, you have to put together some kind of a pitch. You have to take hours and hours of time and effort, and put this pitch deck together, and that’s just a start on the project maybe.

Jeff Staple: Hiroshi operates on a totally different scale. He just takes people out to dinner and somehow it magically happens over these meals. And I don’t know if that’s because he’s super charming or what, but he definitely doesn’t operate under these same guidelines and rules.

Jeff Staple: There’s a book called the secret and if you say things and speak things into existence, they actually happen and well, I don’t think Hiroshi has read the book. It’s a powerful device, but I’ve seen him do this over and over and over again.

Jeffstaple: I think you told me once that the Sony PARK-ING GINZA project kind of started when you were on a radio show or something. Can you tell that story?

Hiroshi F.: That is when I was doing POOL aoyama and we are kind of deciding, [inaudible 00:10:55] and then I was talking on radio I want to do the concept of or so, cause parking. Just one little Chinese this room in PARK-ING GINZA it’s a person address be three. Okay. Sub level Chinese restaurant. Yeah, in the parking. And you know there’s a little led light in the parking lot and it’s a Chinese restaurant. I always liked the idea, you know, it’s definitely studios. Yeah. So I wanted to do a parking, the storing of parking, but you had no idea where, which parking lot. You have no idea. No idea. Okay. And then the Sony guys call me and yeah, we have a perfect property for you. He was listening to [inaudible], right? Yeah. And it was actually, the Sony building was a [inaudible] so he knew the prom. So I can only use it like two years, which you know, they can kind of give me a good price. Right.

Jeff Staple: The parking Ginza was an amazing retail space. It covered floors of a subterranean garage and the Sony headquarters building in Ginza. Of course, one level was a remix of a Japanese classic Chiesa 10 which is basically like a Japanese old school cafe and it was called cafe the ropey. He sourced the greatest toasts from all over the world. Yes, toast. Even got a high end toaster oven, company bell muda to sponsor the entire cafe, which is genius. All the cups and saucers had little fragment logos engraved into them and I’m sure people were trying to steal them. I remember one time I was there having some toast with him and he looked around and said, I don’t like the lighting here anymore. I went back a few days later on the same trip and voila. All the lighting had magically changed. Next to the cafe was a banjo records, which is one of the best music shops in Tokyo, curating select vinyl records, and downstairs was the main retail space which featured the world’s most coveted brands. This included a double taps tent of vanquish denim store, a ski gondola, housing burdens leader’s drops, a retaught fragrant section, which is a cosmetic brand that Hiroshi also owns. And of course the full on Nike shop and the Nike shop was outfitted with Nike products that Hiroshi had designed. And finally there was the parking gains of merge store, which was a place that you could let all your friends back home know that you had paid homage to the Mecca of retail.

Jeffstaple: You also did a lot in magazine and magazine is like a very broad term, right? Because magazine you started your career like in print magazine and then you did honeycomb, which is one of the first digital blogs magazines. And now you have ring of color, which is another sort of magazine, right? So tell us your experiences in working with magazines.

Hiroshi F.: Working with the magazine at the early eighties that was not like now the is is only media. You can have like TV, it’s kind of way too much. And magazine was a like subculture symbol, isn’t it? Your own pages, something in magazines.

Jeffstaple: Right.

Hiroshi F.: So that’s what I did. I was kind of introducing what’s happening in overseas. Like I’ve been traveling London, New York, so not many people can see what’s really happening in London, New York. And then I was kind of introducing, you know, those new things.

Jeffstaple: Was it a job?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. I can say a little money. I can make a little money. Yeah.

Jeffstaple: And was your travel paid for?

Hiroshi F.: Not really. They can cover maybe even 50 50.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: But you did it anyway even though it wasn’t a lot of money.

Hiroshi F.: No.

Jeffstaple: Why did you do it anyway?

Hiroshi F.: I like it. I like to see, I’d like to try to, I didn’t see him anything and I have a knowledge of those things. So I want to kind of, you know, tell people what I’m doing, what is going on.

Jeffstaple: Right. And I guess the intangible effect that happened from that is by doing that a lot.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: You became like an expert.

Hiroshi F.: Maybe.

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. Cause the, I didn’t really do, if someone asked me to introduce, which I don’t like, you know what I mean? Like some shoe company counts. Yeah. Kiyoshi please. Can you show this on the page? And then she’ll say, no, I don’t like this. You know, so I didn’t do that kind of thing. Even if they paid.

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: So I think audience kind of trusts me what I’m doing.

Jeffstaple: So naturally you became like an editor.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Because someone would give you something please. Right? You would say no thank you. So you’re editing out.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Selecting. And then how about when print magazine started to decline in business and the rise of digital and blog started to happen? You started honeycomb.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Did you see like

Hiroshi F.: I didn’t, I couldn’t really see the print magazine is going down so much.

Jeffstaple: Well then why did you want to start Honeycomb?

Hiroshi F.: Well, Honeycomb is not the first one, you know?

Jeffstaple: Oh, really?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. I mean it may be the past month abroad, but like high B’s and those kinds of is already there and many digital media. These are singles there.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. But I think, I feel like the way Honeycomb did it with like a panel of experts and a regular blog was really unique. Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. I think so.

Jeffstaple: But why? So why did you even feel like you wanted to start a digital blog?

Hiroshi F.: Me and Kionaga and Hiroki from visiting. Okay. So [inaudible] yeah, and Hiroki from visiting and me like studio work was, you know, sitting, having coffee, a cup of tea and then talking, Hey shall we do the digital media or this our things cause we never done and we are kind of looking, I mean we are following those things now. Maybe it’s time to do it with you know, too late or to value that kind of conversation. And we start and I like, I made it kind of where you know, and I can light. So I said the blog was kind of popular getting popular. But that’s an old picture on the blog. Used to be blog, it’s just like writing. Yeah. So I travel and we have all the digital cameras. So why don’t we put up nice pictures with a, you know, totally blog. So that’s what’s happened.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: And then what did Kiyonaga and Hiroki do?

Hiroshi F.: They did the blog also.

Jeffstaple: Oh, they wrote too, okay, so you are all editors basically, and you all just threw in money and did it?

Hiroshi F.: Mhmm.

Jeffstaple: So self-finance in the beginning? Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Three or four, five?

Jeffstaple: Yeah. What do you think? Can you talk a little bit more about self financing and the risk behind that?

Hiroshi F.: I don’t think there’s many risks. You’re just using a little bit money, I think.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Yeah. I mean we’ve, I’ve talked to other people about this interview who like just started a magazine or started a mixed tape or something like that. Yeah. I think a lot of young people might be, they want to do it, but they’re scared to lose the money. What do you say to those people?

Hiroshi F.: It’s much better than you using somebody else’s money and lose it, that’s what I think. Yeah. Even the bank, I mean, I’m kind of scared. Maybe I’m older school. If you borrow money from bank and it’s you fail, maybe you lose more things. Yeah. I think.

Jeffstaple: Right. So you’d rather just spend your own money?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Well, kind of good friends. Well good people who can trust. You know what I mean? Like…

Jeffstaple: Can loan you money. Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Maybe it’s better than I think get money from the bank or the investors.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Cause if you lose that, you’re in legal trouble. Right.

Jeff Staple: I talked to many people about finding the finances to fund their dream and there’s two varying camps here. One is quite popular in America and the Western world and it’s known as O P M and it stands for other people’s money. They say always use other people’s money when you can. Why risk your own, right? Well Hiroshi definitely sits on the other side of this fence. It might be something intrinsically Japanese, I’m not sure. But his thing is why risk your credit and your reputation and more importantly your freedom. It’s a question that every entrepreneur must answer at some point.

Jeffstaple: Okay. Let’s move to fashion.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Did you, what were the fashion brands that you did yourself?

Hiroshi F.: Good enough? Just myself. I don’t know. What was it? The thing, so the directory quotation [inaudible] and I think that’s all. No headquarter.

Jeffstaple: [inaudible] what do you think about going into the fashion business? If someone asks you for, should I go, should I start a fashion brand? What do you think?

Hiroshi F.: Oh, the young kids?

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: I think it’s a difficult to time to do a fashion brand because it’s everyone’s doing it. Yeah.

Jeffstaple: What do you think it is? Why fashion is like something that people can’t stop doing even though it’s such a tough business. Even though we have H&M and Zara and Forever 21 you know, but for some reason people still feel like I want to make my own fashion. Why?

Hiroshi F.: I think people are aware what he wants to. And if there’s a good the fashion brand you can trust, you can wear, or it’s inspired to make you something [inaudible] I think it’s happened to us or me and skate. I thought Good Enough with me in the skate things.

Jeffstaple: Skate thing from Bathing Ape was part of Good Enough?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: So he came to me, Hey Hiroshi, let’s make a tee shirts, you know, cause like Stucy or like punks movement or have a printing teasers. So, you know, he asked me to come, let’s [inaudible] yeah, let’s do it. And it’s the good enough starting. So now maybe it’s the kids thing. Same things like Hey stay pro means you know, printing t-shirts, the t-shirts, maybe we can do it. I don’t think we can make a sneakers. We can make our, you know, trousers but maybe t-shirts we can do it. Yeah. So let’s do it. That kind of [inaudible] which you can start.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. And it’s kind of low entry to start with a tee shirt.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: I like how recently you did it. Like you made t-shirts with Sockeye, which is, but it was like a bootleg t-shirt.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: So it was kind of like you were getting back to like the skin. That’s right.

Hiroshi F.: Kind of, I think there’s a space, I mean the loom for the Sockeye, which she doesn’t do it, you know, she’d never do like printing presets with Sockeye print. So I ask her, I want to make a t-shirts with a Sockeye on it and then you can make it, and I didn’t make like 20 t-shirts. Was the American Apparel run just printing, you know, booth rec. Really? [inaudible 00:21:24] And she said, “Hiroshi can you make this for these Sockeye” [inaudible] yeah.

Jeffstaple: So then it started as 20.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah, it start as 10 or 20 yeah.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: It was really [inaudible 00:21:35].

Jeffstaple: Right. You know, but now it’s like a [inaudible]. Awesome.

Jeff Staple: This story of how Hiroshi started to collaborate with [inaudible] in her brand Sockeye is indicative of how he likes to work. He’s direct, honest, and intimate. He’s a master at deciding who is the right partner, when is the right time and how to execute it. But at the same time he doesn’t let his ego get in the way. By definition, the word collaboration involves two or more parties and Hiroshi seems to intuitively know when it is his turn and when it is their turn.

Jeffstaple: All right. I want to move into collaboration, which you’ve done a lot of collaborations with really big companies. Like you mentioned Sony and there’s Starbucks and Burton and Levi’s and Nike, obviously. When you walk into a meeting with these executive really corporate people, right. And you mentioned that it starts off usually over a cup of tea and you have a conversation, but eventually you have to go to the headquarters and have the like board room kind of meeting, right? Don’t you?

Hiroshi F.: Not really, no.

Jeffstaple: No, you never do?

Hiroshi F.: No. You know many of them.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. You always want to keep it small? Okay. But how do you get things? How do you get your vision done if you don’t involve everybody?

Hiroshi F.: [inaudible 00:23:03] The making product is small teams. I think maybe you have to have agreement with those kinds of executive maybe, but I never really did it.

Jeffstaple: Really? Do you ever feel like you have to defend yourself and your ideas to these corporations?

Hiroshi F.: No. No, I don’t. I’m really easy. And then if I make one thing through the big companies, it’s there. I don’t, I don’t own any copyright or anything, so they can do whatever they want. Some designers kind of upset, if they did one, you know, he said make one style and then company kindly [inaudible 00:23:41] to keep doing it. Yeah. Someone kind of, I understand designer’s upset, but I don’t care. I saw it. I think that is my thing. You know, I’m bringing past time. I mean the beginning. And then they can say more and more.

Jeffstaple: Right. That’s the benefit for the company. Right. So you don’t care if they keep doing it?

Hiroshi F.: No.

Jeffstaple: Okay. But do you ever have like a corporations have a reputation for kind of taking advantage of, you know, individual designers and creatives, right. So do you ever run into a situation where you feel like maybe you’re being taken advantage of and if you do, what do you do about that?

Hiroshi F.: Well, I don’t really feel it already. No, no. So I think that is a job I do like Nike, you know, and pick up some shoes. They pick up some sneakers, like which no one did. He touched it like [inaudible 00:24:35] and then I kind of met it. And then after you know that anyone can do it, any company can do it. Like Nike can do their own scene. I don’t even know which colors they’re doing. I see. You know, only fast one fast and one that I did. And then you guys are white too. I don’t.

Jeffstaple: So you’re almost like a prototype designer.

Hiroshi F.: I think so.

Jeffstaple: I see. Okay. So when you work with a big company, right? How about, do you do the negotiation yourself or somebody else in your company does it?

Hiroshi F.: Somebody else, but we don’t really have so much negotiation. Maybe the a big company, have a real issues like copyright or like, you know the trademark things. But yeah, I don’t do it. I have a [inaudible 00:25:20] of to do it,

Jeffstaple: But no negotiation, meaning, you say what you want and then that’s it?

Hiroshi F.: Mhmm. And it’s great.

Jeffstaple:  They never say like, so let’s say you say, “Oh I want to do this for, I’d like to get paid $100.” They never come back and say like, “Oh, can we do it for $70?”

Hiroshi F.: Yeah, that is my [inaudible 00:25:41], I think.

Jeffstaple:  Okay.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: I see.

Hiroshi F.: I don’t say it’s about money.

Jeffstaple: I see. Why did you want to separate your negotiation to somebody else?

Hiroshi F.: Because I don’t even know how much I have to be honest. I don’t have a bank check things. The other guy keeps it so I haven’t seen the account or how much I have, 20 or 30 years.

Jeffstaple: In 20 or 30 years, you haven’t seen how much money you have?

Hiroshi F.: I don’t even know what property I have.

Jeffstaple: You don’t even know what properties you have? But you know you have probably..

Hiroshi F.:  I have a property, maybe few, my house and the kind of things, but I don’t know how much, well, I don’t, I don’t really know nothing.

Jeffstaple:  Is a part of you scared to see how much you have?

Hiroshi F.: I mean, no.

Jeffstaple: Are you scared to see it?

Hiroshi F.: I just don’t have to, maybe maybe I’m scared to see, but I don’t need to, I guess.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. And that’s, I mean scared in a way, like maybe if you saw it all, you’d be like, “Holy shit, this is a lot!”

Hiroshi F.: One time I accidentally saw the tax paper I have to pay. That was scared.

Jeffstaple: Right. You’re like, Holy, how can I keep paying this tax?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. So since then I never opened the envelope.

Jeffstaple: You don’t want to accidentally see it ever again.

Hiroshi F.: No.

Jeffstaple: Wow. So you, so, okay, let’s talk about the person or people that you trust to do this because obviously there’s a relationship there where you fully trust them. And you know, in America you always hear these stories of like celebrities who trusted their accountant too much and then they go to jail because they didn’t pay the taxes. You know, like there’s all these stories like Martha Stewart, TLC, you know, so you obviously have a really trusting relationship with this person or people. How did you develop that? How did you meet these people? How did you trust them?

Hiroshi F.: So that was when I started Good Enough.

Jeffstaple:  Oh, so over 20 years now.

Hiroshi F.: 21 I started in 1988 so it’s almost like 30 years.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Same team. Same people.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Is it a team or a person? Just one..

Hiroshi F.: Person, I think.

Jeffstaple: Okay. Just one person. Okay.

Hiroshi F.: So, and he was already knows all the business. So he helps to do Good Enough.

Jeffstaple: Okay.

Hiroshi F.: And then, well, Good Enough was really nothing, just one t-shirts starting this along with two t-shirts they [inaudible 00:28:00] everything. That was, you know, behind the humans, he’s always behind that business going.

Jeffstaple: You’re a creative obviously. Do you think it’s better that creatives don’t touch the money?

Hiroshi F.: It’s really depends. Some people loves making money as a creation too. Mm. Yeah. Like in the 90s I, I think making money is actually trend.

Jeffstaple: Like Wolf of Wall Street.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. Maybe more like our age. Maybe you, you wanted to make a t-shirts, you want to do creative work. So money is kind of second, second things, but in the 90s people want to make money. All right. I want to make money. I want to be rich. What can I do? Maybe be a DJ. Maybe making a t-shirts, maybe making a brand. To make money.

Jeffstaple: First was, how do I make it?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. So that was in the 90s.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. So your whole thing first was I just want to make stuff.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: So you always had somebody else thinking about the money, right? So do you even know, like you obviously don’t know, you said you don’t know how much money you have, but do you even know how much you have to spend?

Hiroshi F.: To what?

Jeffstaple: Like do you have a paid, do you have a payroll? Are you, like, paid? Do you get a paycheck?

Hiroshi F.: Not really.

Jeffstaple: No. So does anyone ever call you and like your, your accounting guy, he’s like, “Hey Hiroshi, you kind of spent too much money this month?”

Hiroshi F.: No. No one, no ask me.

Jeffstaple: No one ever says that to you? You should try for that. You should try to spend so much that someone yells at you.

Hiroshi F.: I always ask.

Jeffstaple: Oh, you ask somebody first?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. If I want to buy a big thing, maybe buy a car, yeah I always ask. Is money I have for this kind of things, and they will say, “Oh, go ahead. Go ahead.”

Jeffstaple: Okay, I want to know what you asked for. And they said, “Maybe not good.”

Hiroshi F.: I don’t say that. I guess I know my capacity.

Jeffstaple: I see. You’ve never asked for something and they were like, “You’re crazy.”

Hiroshi F.: I think that’s when I was young too. I never ever though, I want to drive a Mercedes because I was enjoying doing myself. So maybe a friend of mine was making money and then you know, buying the cars or that kind of things, but I never envy. I never saw it, you know?

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: I’m already enjoying in my capacity.

Jeffstaple: You came from a small town, right?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Did you come from like money or you came from middle-class or what was it like growing up for you?

Hiroshi F.: Oh, just, just a regular family.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Not super rich.

Hiroshi F.: No, not at all.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Do you think growing up, you know, some people talk about when you grow up in a rich family, there’s pros and cons, right? Pro is obviously you have money that you can play with. Con is, do you value money? Do you think you have a value for money? Like you appreciate how hard it is to get it.

Hiroshi F.: No.

Jeffstaple: You don’t?

Hiroshi F.: No.

Jeffstaple: Why not?

Hiroshi F.: Because I had enough money for my capacity.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Simple life.

Hiroshi F.: Simple life, right. Yeah. So if you take, give me, you know, $100 a week, I can live.

Jeffstaple: Even today?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Yeah, I think so too. Yeah. I remember like there’s a, there’s a good story where, you know, Elon Musk, the Tesla guy, he said, “I calculated once that if I just got $80 I can live off ramen and like, you know, sleeping bag. So as long as I make anything over $80 it’s like a bonus. And that’s how he still lives his life today. He said,

Hiroshi F.: Right. Maybe. I’m not that, you know, I’m enjoying $1,000. I enjoy $100 also.

Jeffstaple: Okay. And then, last bit like, if there’s a young person and a lot of people look up to you, right? What are some bits of advice that you give to young people that want to be the next Hiroshi Fujiwara?

Hiroshi F.: It’s nothing next to me because of the time it’s different. You know, that starting time I was, I think I was lucky starting in the 80s because of the fashion was growing. And the fashion is just beginning. So I was, I feel really lucky to be in the scene. So now maybe some technology or flavor, it’s must be something which I don’t know, which you don’t know. You know, some young something for which only young kids can know. Yeah. This a fine idea.

Jeffstaple: Right. So it’s like a opportunity, right? Like when you were young, you saw opportunity in fashion, immediate, there’s a new opportunity now.

Hiroshi F.: Maybe even the fashion, maybe just some new opportunity.

Jeffstaple: Right. When was the last thing that you saw that was new and you were like, wow, this is like a new wave?

Hiroshi F.: It’s not really new and new, but like I like a code war [inaudible] code, so that’s not which I want to wear, but I think that’s different.

Jeffstaple: You sense some newness about it.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. Like how he incorporates architecture and structure.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:00:33:14].

Jeffstaple: So, it’s good that people are still doing new things in fashion.

Hiroshi F.: I like to know what’s going on, [inaudible 00:33:23]

Jeffstaple: Right.

Jeff Staple: If you’re into shoes in really any capacity, you probably understand the concept of reselling. Highly coveted shoes are gobbled up, resellers mark them up based on market demand and the end user pays the price. While these resellers used to be sneaker fans like you and I, this little cottage industry has now ballooned into a multibillion dollar behemoth. It even has its own stock market now. Just check out stockx.com. And as a creator of these items, I wanted to get Hershey’s take on it.

Jeffstaple: You’re really interested in reselling.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. There are people who makes real billionaire.

Jeffstaple: From reselling. Yeah. Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: And it’s basically, you can already stop right now.

Jeffstaple: No, and I remember the days when like Nike and stuff like really hated resellers. Right. But now you can’t beat them. You have to join them. It is crazy because these people make so much money, but they don’t make anything.

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. Like us, what I start, like Good Enough and things. Those t-shirts became really expensive like 10 times expensive. You know, I make like $30 [inaudible] $300.

Jeffstaple: Yeah. So you make 30 but the other kid makes like…

Hiroshi F.: Like 10 times more than me.

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: Right. And then, but in fact, people think I’m making that money, you know, they don’t really know what the situation, what’s going on. So people will be assessing, Oh, Hiroshi making t-shirts $300. That’s what people thinks. So it’s not really true.

Jeffstaple: Yeah, of course. In fact, did it make you mad a little bit? It must’ve… A little bit mad. Right?

Hiroshi F.: Yeah. So maybe we have a good talk next one.

Jeffstaple: Yeah, next one. Yeah. But I think that, I think it’s interesting now that it’s kind of become a thing where you just have to accept it – reselling. It almost tells you, or Nike, or me, that you’re doing such a good job at your job, that there is a resale value. So on the one hand you get mad that like, Oh, this kid is does nothing. He literally just bought it and is reselling is making hundreds more than me. But it’s, he’s also saying to you, you’re so good at what you do. Right?

Hiroshi F.: Is that really, there is maybe better than the people who doesn’t care about a person in buying things for making money.

Jeffstaple: Yeah.

Hiroshi F.: I saw that happening too.

Jeffstaple: For sure. A lot.

Hiroshi F.: So I don’t like it that way. If like people like us, we really like Nike shoes, so I want to buy one for me, but why don’t I buy 10 and selling it. Making money.

Jeffstaple: It’s a little bit better. Yeah. But it’s definitely better than nobody wants to buy your stuff because there’s no resale value. That sucks. So it’s kind of like a double edged sword. Yeah, I know. It’s weird. I used to, I used to hate it too and I had the same problem where people think like my pigeon dunk is worth 8,000 so Jeff, you must be super rich because you made this shoe. Meanwhile, I only have one pair and I only made you know, $100 on it. So it’s like everyone else is making the money, not me. But it’s like this perception that because you made this, you must have a lot of money from it. You know? That’s funny. Any other advice?

Hiroshi F.: No, but this show is really interesting, so you should keep doing it. Maybe we can talk about more business.

Jeffstaple: Great.

Jeff Staple: Thanks for listening to our first episode. You can find out more about the show or listen to future episodes at hypebeast.com/radio. You can subscribe to us wherever you listen. I personally use overcast. And you could reach out to me on Twitter at Jeff staple. Check us out on the web at businessofhype.com and you can email any questions you might have to questions@businessofhype.com. The Business of Hype is directed by Daniel Novetta. It’s edited and produced by Bright Young Things. You could check them out at byt.nyc. Engineered by Andre Zakho and Vincent Starapoli. This was recorded at Sibling Rivalry Studio and on location in Dubai at Sole DXB. I’m Jeff Staple and you’ve been listening to The Business of Hype on Hypebeast Radio.