A designer interview that focuses on the creator's philosophy behind his creation.
This article features RIPVANWINKLE, which was founded 22 years ago.
This time of the second series, I would like to talk about the origin of the brand, the backside of its production, and its future prospects.
Mr.Masao Ono established "Rip Van Winkle" in 1997.
In the era of everyday change, classical and contemporary fusion of tradition and newness comes a harmony of calmness and style is the brand philosophy. The work develops emphasis on the mood and idea. Materials are carefully examined as they continue to create genuine pieces in excellent craftsmanship.
A line well said during the interview.
The conversation progresses with occasional jokes.
--- What is your brand background?
The brand was launched in '97 and has been in business for 22 years.
I've always liked clothes but when I was in high school, I was scouted by a hair model in a magazine and I was introduced to this kind of fashion, which was the first thing that got me started working in this industry.
After that, I entered a modeling agency and while working part-time at a select shop in Shibuya in parallel with modeling activities, I learned a lot by doing original planning at the shop and buying imported brands overseas.
——— So you started the brand from various experiences?
I, myself went to an apparel school but didn't study.
The foundation of the creation in me, or rather, the starting point, is what I've experienced in the field and in the streets.
Since then, I have wanted to challenge in the world of clothes in the future and I wanted to start by the age of 30.
My acquaintance worked for a foreign brand so I learned how to buy pieces and at the age of 28, I started the brand with the help of my acquaintances and supporters.
--- What is the origin of the brand name?
There are various reasons but I have always liked the late actor Yusaku Matsuda for a long time and he appeared in my favorite American movie so naturally, the name I ended up using became [RIPVANWINKLE].
When I asked the person I was working with at that time, he said ‘Why not?’ and it was then and there the brand name was decided.
--There is a scene where you talk about the fable of Rip Van Winkle in the famous scene of "The beast must die." a masterpiece by Yusaku Matsuda.
I watched this movie when I was in elementary school and I think even though there were many heroes in my childhood, the one true hero for me was Yusaku Matsuda.
Mr. Ono looks back nostalgically on the process of launching the brand.
When it comes to the story of the late Yusaku Matsuda, who said he was a hero in his childhood, he has a reminiscent smile.
--- What difficulties did you have in the beginning?
In the beginning, there was no backbone of what brand I worked for and I had no trust in myself so I had a hard time building the production background including looking for a factory.
Also, when I started the brand, I thought it would be difficult to convey the image of the brand without a store so I started a company store in Shibuya. At that time, I felt like I managed to get my acquaintances and old customers to come to me.
When I managed to make ends meet, a stylist I met introduced me to magazines and many people helped me recognize the brand little by little.
At that time, there was no exhibition even though it was published in a magazine but there were many requests, so we started the exhibition from autumn and winter in '98.
During the interview, an archive of past magazines stored by the brand was displayed.
All of us, including Mr. Ono and other brand staff, were excited upon seeing the valuable materials.
Archive of the magazines at the time.
With the help of various people, the brand's recognition gradually increased.
Featuring parachute pants made from the very beginning of the brand.
It is a masterpiece that is still popular and one of the representative pieces of the brand.
This is an article about an interview with Mr. Ono just after he became independent.
He spent his busy days doing production while tending to the store.
--- What did you think about the future of the brand when you launched it?
When I started, I only did my best and focused on the tasks in front of me, I did not really think about the future of the brand. I just remember being headstrong moving forward everyday.
--- Do you have any memorable collections?
This is the 46th time for this spring and summer collection but I remember the first time vividly.
We made leather jackets and shirts before we started the exhibition, mountain parkas and jeans were made with different materials.
When I think back, the foundation of the brand is actually not so different from now.
--- When and where do you get inspiration for design?
It's hard to describe this moment in a word but it's all in everyday life.
I'm always looking for clues, no matter what I'm doing or where I am and that became my habit.
This is something that has changed a lot in my life since I started the brand and I think it will never change.
The foundation of the brand is not much different.
Continuing to create without changing, cherishing what he has been influenced by.
--- How long do you take before you start a project?
It doesn't really matter the order of clothes and accessories but I feel like I go ahead with them at any time.
I don't really start collections at any particular time and I'm always thinking about ideas.
The design concept, the composition of items in the collection and the time required for production are all different, so we are working on it simultaneously while doing various tasks.
Basically, when we come up with a new idea, we work with the staff to work out the idea and make it concrete.
Based on the idea that comes to mind, he creates a collection while exchanging opinions with his staff.
The collection consists of works that have been tried and tested until satisfied.
--- Do you start with the design? Or do you choose the material?
Both proceed in parallel with each other.
Depending on the item and material, we decide it at that time.
--- What are the main points you are particular about when you start creating?
For example, being particular about how to make the top and bottom of the stitches of the ribs, how to make the stitches look different and how to make the stitches look more detailed, such as the parts that cannot be seen.
I think all designers are like that, but they always want to make something better and they don't want to give it out unless they are completely satisfied with their creation, so some of them fail when they make samples.
Even if there is a compromise, it will be conveyed to the customer, so in that case, it would be better not to have that item.
Neck binder that was intentionally unevenly made.
These small details make a big difference in the works of RIPVANWINKLE.
Finish everything to a 100%.
The uncompromising attitude of monozukuri (Creating things) can be seen from all the elements of the work.
--- What are you particular about the Look book photos?
I used to take pictures overseas for a while but basically I don't shoot on location.
I always look for a place that matches the image of the collection and tell the photographer the image of the shoot.
I wanted to use a white floor for this look so I chose a white wooden floor and set it up for shooting.
Regarding the model, there is also the timing of booking to be considered but I audition and choose every time.
Of course, it is a very important place to convey the image of the season and also we want customers to feel the freshness of each season.
The look of the 2020 SS season is displayed with new items.
Create a different atmosphere each time based on a simple composition.
You can feel the atmosphere of the collection coming through.
--- What are your thoughts on why you have been running the brand for over 20 years?
It's kind of cliche but it is because there were customers who supported us.
I think that is what it really comes down to.
--- What are your plans for the future of the brand?
I don't have any specific plans for the future.
However, what I have been thinking for the past 22 years is that I will continue this brand as long as I live.
This season, the next season and every season onwards, I will continue to create.