When it comes to visvim, there are few words that could ever do justice to the mystique it has cultivated since its inception in 2001. Call it hype, if you'd like, but frankly you'd be wrong. This much we're sure of after seeing the clothes first hand for the label's first ever New York Fashion Week preview, specifically for their Spring/Summer 2014 collection. The clothes are so expertly crafted, the details so genuine and the love that goes into each piece so apparent, that it's almost impossible not to see yourself draped in it head to toe on some Jon Mayer shit. Make no mistake, this isn't just commerce — take one look at the two-tone indigo dyed trucker jacket above and you'll realize that on some level, it must be considered art. It also helps that the man behind the brand, Hiroki Nakamura, is as big a fucking G in person as his "Menswear Bigfoot" persona has lead us to believe. He is calm, he is polite and most of all, he loves what he does and totally embodies his brand's ethos. While we asked him about the clothes, we also felt it necessary to explore Hiroki's love for New York and the new visvim women's collection, which just launched for Fall/Winter 2013.
Why did you feel that now was a good time to show your label for the first time at New York Fashion Week?
I actually showed the collection a long time ago in New York, maybe 8 years ago. New York is one of my favorite cities, I love coming here, we [my family] have a loft here. I also spend a lot of time in New York and I have a lot of friends here. Every time I'm here, I feel a ton of energy. We also show in Paris each season and have showed in Tokyo for 14 years, but I always wanted to do something in New York, and now with our women's collection launching, it was like, "OK. Now is the time."
Where are your favorite places in New York?
I love walking down the street. I usually hang out in, like, Soho, but mostly in Manhattan. I ride a bicycle everywhere in Manhattan. I spend a lot of time in The Village and downtown.
Do you want to speak to the difference in energy and inspiration you get from different cities, like, the difference between New York and Tokyo?
I love New York because of its fast energy and power. I also love the mix of culture, it's like freedom. I think here you can express yourself in any way that you want. In Tokyo, I love the silence. I think Tokyo is more subtle than New York, and I like that. I also like Paris, I like London, and actually, I love Los Angeles. I've spent some time in Los Angeles, we have an office. I love the weather, it's amazing. And I like to be in the studio we have in Los Angeles too.
Speaking to the new women's collection, what is the type of woman you see wearing the women's line? Who is she and what does she do?
Actually, Kelsi, my wife, designed the women's collection. Some pieces we designed together, but for me, I've always designed things I can wear. I always ask Kelsey if she would wear the pieces I design.
Kelsi: Hiroki has also helped me design things I might have never worn. For instance, this is a box dress and it's basically women's workwear from Indonesia. I never would have put this on in a million years, but Hiroki encouraged me to, and it's great. It's so great. I still feel feminine, but I feel like I can do anything in it. He's got a great eye for womens.
Hiroki: Well, I do men's clothing, and I always check myself by asking, "Would I wear this? Would I be happy wearing this?" That is the final test.
It seems you're very careful and protective of your brand image. Can you talk about why this is, and why you've wanted to limit the exposure of the brand and how widely available it is?
I didn't intend to do that. It just happened organically. This is an independent company, and we are a small company. So really, even if I wanted to, I couldn't make a lot of garments.
Does it also have to do with the standard of quality you have for your products? If you made large runs of your products, the quality might not turn out as well or that hand-feeling that goes along with visvim might not be as apparent?
It just has to do with if I would wear it. I never want to make something where I'm thinking, "Oh I wouldn't wear it, but maybe someone else will." I want to make things that look really nice and last long, and hopefully there are customers who enjoy wearing it too. Honestly, when I started, when I was 29, I just didn't know how I could make good, authentic products. I was just trying lots of different ways. I also have grown, which is why instead of doing lots of different shoes, I just want to do a few that last a long time. I want to have an emotional connection with the products. I think I am growing, and I hope my fans grow with me. And I'm so grateful that people have supported me.
What are some other brands that you might not even necessarily wear yourself, but respect? Labels you can look at and say, "I respect what they're doing."
I think there are many different ways to do business. I respect brands that do their own thing. But I am really into getting inspired by old stuff, vintage stuff. And it's not just old stuff, it's well made stuff. I just want to make things as good as the old stuff, but there is a challenge there, because of time. The old products have had time.
There's also a sense of nostalgia that comes with vintage products that is difficult to recreate, right? Is that emotional feeling people get when looking at something vintage an aspect you try to put in your clothes?
As I study and learn more about vintage, I've learned that it's not about old, it's about the way it's made. And there's a reason things were made the way they were made. I just want to do my best in a modern world.