Interview & Report

Bruce Pask

Bruce Pask

MBFWT 2016 S/S invited guest interview vol.1

Bergdorf Goodman's Men's Fashion Director / Bruce Pask

During the period of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week TOKYO 2016 S/S, Bruce Pask of ‘Bergdorf Goodman’, one of New York’s most prestigious high-end department stores, visited Japan by invitation from JETRO. Bergdorf Goodman is a special place which fashion designers around the world long for, and with the showing of the documentary movie, “Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s”, their name has become known to the general public, in Japan. Bruce Pask, being the men’s fashion director of such a department store, we’ve asked his impression of Japanese brands, shops, Fashion Week Tokyo, and whether any fashion topics caught his attention.


Bergdorf Goodman Official Website

First of all, could you tell us your image of Japanese culture and fashion?

I’ve been to Japan twice in the past for photo shootings, so this is my third time here. I had always longed to come to Japan. By actually coming here, I have been able to experience so many things, and I feel that Japan has a rich culture, cultivated in a respect for tradition. I thank JETRO for giving me this opportunity. As for fashion in Japan, I think it is fabulous that Japan has maintained and handed down technics and styles, cultures that America has lost, for example, denim. Also, this time around, I had a chance to visit Meiji Shrine. I think it is wonderful how such a traditional place can co-exist in an area filled with so many small shops like Harajuku, and form a harmonious town. I think this is one of the characteristics of Japan.


Where else have you gone to during this visit?

I saw some fashion shows, and visited small retail shops, mainly. We at Bergdorf Goodman, take pride in being recognized as one of the top merchants in the world, in the field of luxury items, but I think that Japanese retailers are quite good, each having their own uniqueness. Many shops seem to value visual aspects, and through new inventive ways to display items, I think they try to appeal to customers from all sorts of angles.


What do you think about the Tokyo street fashion?

One thing I especially felt this time around is the spread of new styles of fashion, utilizing high-tech materials. On the other hand, I also saw a lot of dandy men’s fashion, obviously influenced by England and the US, and the mix was very interesting.


Through the whole of Fashion Week Tokyo, did you feel anything in particular?

I think, the reason for fashion shows are to transmit a message to the world through visuals, and I felt this was done very well. All in all, I think it was a very well organized Fashion Week. The main venue, Shibuya Hikarie, has good access, so many people came, and I felt excitement and energy in the air.


You’ve probably been to fashion weeks all over the world. When you watch a show, on what do you place value?

Basically, I compare the items with those presently carried in our store, and I ask myself, what’s new, is there anything about it that excites me, is it luxurious, etc., etc. But the most important point I place my judgement on is, whether our customers will be happy. When watching I show, I place an emphasis on display, how items are shown, but in men’s wear, it is also true that details that are difficult to be stressed in shows, are important.

You are a men’s fashion director. Specifically, what are your responsibilities?

It is my job to coordinate efforts with each section, from buying to visual, and especially to watch over and make sure that a unified image is presented. In order to do so, I visit shows with buyers, and sometimes sit-in on negotiations. I also work with the visual team, on how newly arrived products should be displayed in the store. In addition, I am also responsible for controlling the concept and visual image of Bergdorf Goodman’s magazine, the window display of our Fifth Avenue store, watch-over Instagram and blog contributions. I always try to maintain the quality of the store image, and also, the unity between the store image and various means of PR.


It is obvious that Bergdorf Goodman places value on Instagram and blog. What are your thoughts on digital communication?

From around the time that smart phones first came out, Bergdorf Goodman has put a lot of effort into digital communication. Our customers, not only have the need to come to our store to enjoy shopping, but also have the need to enjoy the same experience, whenever, wherever. In view of such needs, we utilize various digital communication tools, such as Instagram, blog, on-line stores, so that customers may enjoy the world of Bergdorf Goodman, whenever they please. With the vast diversification of communication tools, it is our wish to always provide the best of our customer service, to keep our customers satisfied.


Are there any activities in international men’s fashion that you think are noteworthy?

Right now, an important key-word in men’s fashion is casualization. Sneakers are selling like crazy, and sports or sporty, is becoming an important aspect in fashion. Also, this has nothing to do with trends but, the more men’s fashion is taken up in the media, such as blogs, SNS, magazines, newspapers, etc., the general consciousness towards men’s fashion will change, and I think people are becoming more aware of what kind of fashion they are looking for.


What do you think of Japanese men’s brands?

Many of the Japanese men’s brands, value tradition, but at the same time, try to create new fashions by utilizing new technologies, fabrics, patterns, and I think this is a big appeal. Also, the variety is extremely wide, from street wear to the newest mode, to styles based on Western traditional. It is very interesting how in Japan, these differing styles coexist in mutual respect, to form a single scene.

What do think that Japanese brands need to do to advance into foreign markets?

One large issue, is size. I think the production side understands this too, but, if they are serious about overseas developments, they seriously need to deal with this issue. Also, due to differences in Fashion Week periods, compared to Western brands, the time of delivery is late. This is another issue that needs to be worked out. However, originality of the brand is much more important than such operation issues, and I think that having a unique characteristic that separates you from the rest, is the real key to success.


During this visit, you probably had many opportunities to meet with Japanese fashion industry people, was there anything special?

I participated in the Tweed Run TOKYO the other day, and rode a bicycle in the same group as Mr. Hirofumi Kurino of United Arrows. We had a deep conversation during the whole time, and I enjoyed that. Also, I’ve been a long-time fan of BEAMS, and we’ve been carrying ‘BEAMS PLUS’ products since last season. I had a chance to meet with their president, Mr. Yo Shitara and his team, which was a pleasant experience. I also visited many other retail stores, met with the designers and shop staff, and learned so much, my notebook is totally filled with memos. This trip has given me the opportunity to reflect upon future developments of Bergdorf Goodman, and how the Japanese fashion industry can be involved, what rolls it could play, so it has been an extremely fruitful opportunity.



Interview by YUKI HARADA

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