FAKE TOKYO chief&PR CANDY manager
Mr. Yanagi interned at "A" (formerly "GYPSY" & "VASARA") while in college. After graduating from college, he joined "Side by Side" at Laforet Harajuku. He then joined CANDY, and was in charge of purchasing and PR work, making the most of his experience in England while in college. In 2010, he launched the new fashion spot "FAKETOKYO" comprising CANDY and Sister with current director Ito, and conducted shop direction centered on PR work as the shop manager. Currently, he has newly launched "FAKE SHOWROOM" on the 3rd floor of the same building, and produces clothes and directs the wardrobes of artists, centering on the sales, PR, and consulting of young domestic brands.
The specialty boutique CANDY assembles cutting edge brands from both Japan and abroad, and offers the latest fashion with a unique world view. In 2010, it relocated from Shinjuku 2-chome to the Shibuya Center-Gai, which draws more of a mixed crowd and diverse information. He established a major base from which to make new fashion proposals along with sister shop Sister, and FAKE SHOWROOM, which discovers young designers and conducts distribution, and is further expanding the community.
We interviewed Shogo Yanagi, who handles the direction of FAKE TOKYO, which conducts these activities, as well as the management and PR of CANDY.
What led you to be involved with CANDY?
I had a friend that worked at CANDY that I knew from my school days, and he invited me to join at the time when they were changing the shop’s direction. While recreating the store, I was able to express my ideas regarding fashion in a direct manner, and I enjoyed this very much. I was able to feel a lot of potential based on the customers’ reaction to my ideas.
What did you do before joining CANDY?
I worked at a specialty boutique called “GYPSY”, which was in Daikanyama at the time, from when I was a college student. It’s a shop with a cutting-edge and avant-garde collection, and my experiences there formed the foundation of my fashion. After graduating from college, I started working at a shop called “Side by Side” in Laforet Harajuku which was directed by Nicola Formichetti, but they announced its closure after a month and a half… It was a time when large fast fashion stores were moving into Tokyo, and I felt that cutting-edge shops that picked up new brands were gradually disappearing. I feel that I became involved in the renewal of CANDY with the feeling of “if that’s the case, we should propose brands ourselves!”
What do you value in the direction of CANDY?
I try to pay attention to new brands. I don’t simply look for young brands, but base my decisions on whether the brand expresses itself properly. To give an extreme example, even if a brand’s patterns and sewing techniques are lousy, if it successfully pursues its own world view and presentation, the creations later become well-honed through various experiences and the brand often heads in the right direction. Nowadays, I often have the chance to see student shows, and I feel that overall it is put together a bit too nicely. I often think that it would be good if the students pursued their own unique expressions further, whether it be Gothic & Lolita, punk, hip-hop, et cetera.
It has been two years since you relocated from Shinjuku 2-chome to Shibuya; what kind of changes have there been?
Many different types of people now visit our store – high school students, girls, shop attendants from nearby apparel shops, designers, etc. When we were in Shinjuku, there were no clothing stores around us, so we had the advantage of being able to convey our world view without being influenced by anything, but on the other hand, it was hard for people to visit. Our desire is to nurture people who want to dress fashionably, so we think that it is necessary to assert ourselves and make suggestions. We therefore wanted to come to Shibuya, where you can find a variety of things and people of different nationalities, ages, and sense of style. The people that come here all want to find something to add a little originality to their individual styles. We start off by making styling suggestions to these customers, and we hope that they will eventually show interest in the world view of the brand that makes the clothes.
What are you aware of in terms of your relationships with the designers?
I would like to be the gateway to success for young brands. Such an existence will serve as a target for people that design the clothes, and enhance their motivation. When I went to London during the fashion week period, I saw that specialty boutiques and department stores such as Selfridges and Browns gave young brands that have not even had a runway show the opportunity to display their clothes in the windows. In Japan, it is hard to influence such major powers, but although we are small, I hope that we can boost such brands by working hard ourselves first.
There seem to be strong horizontal ties at CANDY, too – for instance, young brands that are carried by CANDY conduct joint exhibitions, etc.
This isn’t something that we are doing deliberately. In the end, I feel that individual brands group together because they cannot establish their own presentation style. It’s true that there are things that can be accomplished by sharing one’s world view, but I feel that new creations cannot emerge without individual thinking. Therefore, recently I’ve been offering jobs to produce artists’ wardrobes to the designers of brands carried by CANDY, for instance, in an effort to provide them with opportunities to create different things from usual.
It seems that you take part in many activities other than the specialty boutique.
That’s true. At CANDY and its sister store Sister on the floor above, we sell clothes by establishing good communication with our customers, but in addition to this, I am also involved in the production of artists’ wardrobes and fashion direction, etc. Our aim for FAKE TOKYO is to not only stock clothing from young brands in our store, but to also transmit our own world view concerning fashion worldwide through distribution and consulting, etc. We hope that benefits arising from such activities will ultimately be passed on to the store and further enliven the community.
I imagine that you also have many foreign customers,
but do you have the awareness that the store is a Tokyo store?
Recently we have been getting a lot more foreign customers, so I feel a sense of responsibility and mission to properly convey what Tokyo is like today. I therefore want to feature more young Japanese creators, etc.
What do you feel about the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week TOKYO?
I feel that too much emphasis is placed on entertainment overall. There is a trend of doing something that involves the consumers, but I personally don’t feel that there is a need to do so at exhibitions. Fashion shows should be catered to professionals, but this is not entirely the case any longer, and I feel that these shows have gone off course. I feel that it is first necessary to gain more recognition by doing shows more properly in Tokyo. If the existence and cultural value of fashion week is recognized in Japan, this will ultimately spread to Asia and the world.
From your standpoint as a specialty boutique, do you have any ideas regarding your involvement in fashion week?
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week TOKYO is a major fashion event in Japan, so we intend to work hard. Shibuya Hikarie will be the main venue starting from the next fashion week, so I look forward to this very much. One of the reasons that we do exhibitions and guerrilla shows in our shop is because we want our customers to view them and think about the world view and concept of the brand by considering why the designers are expressing things a certain way and speaking to them directly at the receptions, etc. This may be considered to be the preliminary step of the collection, but I think that it is necessary for the shop to play the main role in conveying such content and presentations to the consumers, buyers, and editors, etc.
Lastly, please tell us about your future outlook.
When we were students, we admired the fashion proposed by designers such as Hedi Slimane, and we were heavily influenced and motivated by sharp specialty boutiques that always offered new brands. Now, from the standpoint of being the ones managing a shop, I think that it is important to think about how to convey this passion, and for FAKE TOKYO, I want to think about the manner of proposing fashion as a whole, rather than being only fixated on the shop itself.