Daisuke Hamada “niuhans”
Istituto Marangoni Scholarship – Supported by THE FASHION POST, Tokyo vol.3
‘niuhans’ is Tokyo based independent clothing brand. Founded in 2010 by Daisuke Hamada.
We create simple and clean everyday clothing using only carefully selected natural materials and traditional / innovative Japanese unique techniques.
All products are made in Japan with a distinct foucus on craftsmanship, quality and comfortable.
[ Website ] http://www.niuhans.com/
[ Facebook ] https://www.facebook.com/niuhans
[ Twitter ] https://twitter.com/niuhans
[ Instagram ] https://www.instagram.com/niuhans/
The ‘Istituto Marangoni Scholarship Supported by THE FASHION POST, Tokyo’, is to support up-coming designers recommended by ‘THE FASHION POST’ and Japan Fashion Week Organization (JFWO), participate in the study abroad program of an Italian fashion and design college, the ‘Istituto Marangoni’. Mr. Daisuke Hamada, the designer of the fashion brand ‘niuhans’, who was selected for the 3rd term of this program, has just returned to Japan, having finished his two week program. The brand, established in 2010, Mr. Hamada is gaining popularity, by being very particular about materials and his simple, clean designs. We’ve asked him of his experience in Italy, how his brand got started, what he is particular about in making clothes, etc.
You’ve been in Milan for two weeks under the designer study abroad program of ‘Istituto Marangoni’. What kind of course did you enroll in?
I enrolled in the Fashion Production course. Among the enrollees, there were many people who were studying fashion for the first time, so the classes were mainly basics on materials, production, merchandising, trend, etc. Half of my class was experienced people, with a wide variety of backgrounds and carriers, gathering from around the globe, for example, a lady from Canada who runs her own brand business, and a Mexican gentleman who is the next in line for the Presidency of an apparel company of over 200 employees. I was never really aware of it in Japan, but of course, fashion is rooted in its own way in each country, and when looked upon from a wide, global point of view, I realized that fashion in Tokyo is merely one movement among all the movements going on around the world.
Having actually attended classes, were there any differences you felt from Japanese fashion education?
Generally, Japanese are said to value cooperativity, but in overseas, everybody is very self-asserting, even in class, and I had the impression that everybody was speaking their mind quite clearly. For example, when a task is given from the teacher, if students do not agree with it, they do not simply accept it, and they’ll voice their disagreement (laugh). But also, since many of the teachers are those who have actually been living in the fashion industry, they do not simply teach what is written in the textbooks. Rather, they take up topics that are happening in the world at that moment, such as “See Now, Buy Now”, offering the latest information in 2016, and openly teach things that they have learned, felt through their careers, such as business operations of individual maisons (brands), the flow of how a trend is made, knowledge on fashion journalists possessing global influence, etc.
Was there any class or task that left an especially strong impression?
As a part of the class, we went on a field trip to a factory, and I was quite surprised at its large scale. It was a print and jacquard weave factory, complete with the latest equipment and a fabulous working environment. It had the air of a top modern Japanese automobile factory. We also had the opportunity to learn of the factory’s history and see their archives, and I strongly felt their pride as craftsmen and their respect towards old things, making me realize that in Italy, fashion is rooted as a part of their culture, and that it is a major industry.
In the latter half of the two week program, we were paired-up with a classmate, for the task of choosing a certain brand to analyze their items, number of styles, materials, prices, and then make a presentation to suggest their collection for next season. Since the language environment in each of our computer is different, it was such a hassle to make a simple power-point document, and so many things didn’t work out (laugh), but it was a great experience in itself.
It seems there is a lot to learn through simply placing yourself in a multi-national situation?
Yes. From this study abroad, I strongly felt that each country has a different view of fashion. For example, in Italy, a style of showing off tanned skin is favored, but what is cool, what is sexy, differs for each country. This is an aspect that I would realize only by actually going there, and I think it is important to have a certain margin within oneself. Of course there is the problem of whether the fashion of that country matches your taste or not, and that can be dealt with according to individual inclinations and directions, but I think there is a lot to be gained by actually going to major fashion cities, such as Milan, Paris, and New York.
We’ve heard that in addition to Milan, which you went to this time, you have experience working in Paris and London?
Yes. My father was in the construction business, and so through high school and university, I studied construction, but in the world of construction, there are so many restrictions in construction methods and/or structural calculations, and I was unsatisfied with these restrictions on freedom of expression. I decided to go down the road of fashion, which I had always liked, so I dropped out of university to reenter a fashion college, and went to study abroad at Paris, when I was 21 years old. After graduating, I stayed there utilizing an intern system, working at KITSUNÉ (presently: MAISON KITSUNÉ) as an assistant for 1 year, then moved to London, at which I worked and gained experience at a number of brands.
Did you have hopes to start your own brand since then?
At first, I hadn’t been thinking about it in realistic terms, but I gradually began to think about starting my own brand, and started an idea notebook. If I were to start my own brand, I wanted to start it in Japan, so I returned, and after one year and a half of preparations, I started niuhans in the autumn of 2010.
Has your vision and/or concept changed inany way since you first started up your brand?
From the start, up to today, my idea has always been to make high quality clothing with solid particularities, based in basic designs that are not influenced by trends. I also want to make things that are truly comfortable to wear, things that make people feel enriched emotionally, things that grow on you, so I am particular about sticking to organic cotton and other natural materials and their comfort. As for items, I always keep in mind to make things that should exist or would expect to exist but do not. For example, I design heavy weight T-shirts in pretty colors, and double-faced coats using dual-layered fabrics often seen in clothing for madams. I am also trying my hand in creating new things by combining new and old techniques, for example, making knits using relatively new techniques such as wholegarment, and dyeing by traditional plant dye.
You seem to be particular about your seasonal visuals.
It is difficult to convey the world view of the brand with only basic clothing, so I am conscious of expanding the brand image through seasonal visuals. Every season, I select a photographer from my list of interested photographers that best fits the image I want to convey. If/when they accept my offer, I send them samples, with a request not to use professional models, hair/make-up, stylists, and have them shoot freely, as they wish. It is a risky way to shoot since I have no idea how it will turn out until it is done, but I place 100% trust on the senses of the photographer, and so far, it’s been working. Originally, the concept of the brand has always been, clothing that are not effected by race, gender, age or occupation, so instead of suggesting a certain brand image or way to wear, I prefer to have each individual expand their imagination from the clothing. Bilingual interviews of the photographer who shot the seasonal visual is open to public on our WEB site, in Japanese and English, showing not only their photos, but an extensive interview on their creations and even their private life.
Please tell us your future plans for the brand.
Presently, domestic wholesale is the main part of our business, but we would like to surely extend this part. Parallel to this, we have been doing overseas exhibitions, with several shops that carry our items, in New York, London, Vancouver, South Korea, Taiwan, etc., and we intend to continue appealing to overseas markets. However my intention is not to expand the scale of the brand so much, but rather, I would like to continue to surely make items with particularities, within the range of my sites. Furthermore, recently we’ve been working on joint projects with “Hobo nichi techo 2017 (Almost everyday notebook 2017)”, and ‘NOVESTA’, a Slovakian factory brand, and we would like to aggressively do projects such as these with different businesses.
Interview by Yuki Harada
Photography by Yohey Goto