NEIGHBORHOOD's Everlasting Ride
Photography _ Rintaro Ishige Writer _ James Oliver
Can you please tell me how it feels to be celebrating twenty years of NEIGHBORHOOD?
Twenty years may seem like a long time, but then again, it’s just another period of twenty years within myself. In a way, it’s a good round number and makes for a memorable benchmark, but it’s not the end for me. I’ll probably continue to do things the way I have for a long time.
Many people associate NEIGHBORHOOD with motor culture, when did you first start getting interested in this?
I was quite conscious of the culture when I was really young, but it was probably only when I was around twenty that a lot of my friends were into it when we started making custom bikes.
Can you talk about how your interest in motor culture and other subcultures define NEIGHBORHOOD?
I think a lot of people may perceive these influences to be a fashion trend, but I think it just happens to currently be a trend. For me, it wasn’t necessarily about following a trend, since that’s always been a natural part of my lifestyle. It was only natural to use this to shape and define NEIGHBORHOOD.
How has your approach to NEIGHBORHOOD changed and evolved over time? Over twenty years?
My approach towards the brand hasn’t changed in terms of clothing, since the basic foundation still remains the same. The denim, the workwear, the work shirts and T-shirts, that’s all been since the beginning of the brand. What may have changed in terms of clothing isn’t necessarily within the world of fashion trends. But maybe within my own network of Ura Harajuku, and what was perceived to be cool at the time was adopted into the clothing. So, the addition of those elements have probably changed NEIGHBORHOOD over the twenty years, but the base is always still there.
So, in addition to the main line, you do one third in LUKER BY NEIGHBORHOOD? Can you talk about the concept of those lines how they differ or compare to the main line?
LUKER BY NEIGHBORHOOD is separate to my interests in motor culture, and leans more towards my interests in UK culture. This also played a fundamental role in my life. I guess it’s kind of a reflection or an homage to the UK culture I was interested in contrast to NEIGBORHOOD. LUKER is literally one third the size of NEIGHBORHOOD, but that’s not necessarily concept wise, more in terms of a silhouette - it’s one third scaled down from the main line.
You’ve worked with a lot of renowned people, artists from the industry over of the years. What do you feel those people add to the label?
Over the past years, I guess I’ve worked with a lot of people. With regards to Harajuku, Harajuku has a tendency to welcome people from the outside, to tell you the truth. For me, I’m quite thankful to have been able to work with a lot of people. It’s not only in terms of a creative process, but also in terms of business process too. It definitely has a kind of cross over, where you can share a customer base too. There’s a lot of positives and negatives that’s all inclusive to bringing something new or different, in terms of a creative or business context.
You recently released the book to celebrate the anniversary. Can you tell me why you wanted to do this and what was the idea of the book?
How I came to release the book was more because of a photographer I work with, Osamu Nagahama. It started nine or ten years ago, but we had a similar idea of wanting to take portrait pictures.
You have a number of collaborations coming up for Fall/Winter. Can you talk about the brands you’re working with and the respective collections?
The most recent one is with Carhartt, following on later with C.E. and Adidas. With Carhartt, we did a collaboration project for Fall/Winter and with C.E., that was more of a commemoration with Hankyu Yurakcho Men’s Department Store. This was all followed with Adidas by NEIGHBORHOOD, so that’s actually more of a full collection, that’s scheduled to last for a couple of seasons.
What do you want to achieve in the short and long term for NEIGHBORHOOD?
In the short term, I’d like to make it to a thirty year anniversary, to be able to celebrate that I guess would be a short term goal. With regards to both short and long term, the quality and the design improvement is something I’m always going to be conscious of. In terms of long term, this is quite difficult but I want to continue doing things the best that it can be. A long time ago, I never thought I’d be a designer at fourty seven, so who knows what will happen in the long run?
Lastly, what’s one thing about you or the brand that you’d like to mention?
At the end of this year I will be throwing an event to the celebrate twenty years of NEIGHBORHOOD.