Interview & Report




Designer Mug was born in 1971. After graduating from the Kuwasawa Design School Mug laid down the foundations of her own brand in 1999 that has come to be known as G.V.G.V.. Mug's world is represented by a mix of femininity and masculinity, with free sensitivity that is present in every season's collection. G.V.G.V. has now become one of the most attractive Tokyo fashion label. Also, from 2010 Spring / Summer, she has been participating as a buyer at grapevine by k3 Daikanyama, selecting wonderful creations from around the world.

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G.V.G.V. is a Japanese brand renowned for its edgy “real-clothes”.
We interviewed its cool and feminine designer MUG:

What made you want to become a designer?

MUG:My mother was always interested in knitting and sewing, and she would often make matching dresses for my elder sister and I. Also, my grandmother had a job tailoring kimonos, so I feel like I grew up in an environment very much involved with clothes. My sister always brought home lots of fashion magazines, and we would sift through them for various DC brands, which were very popular at the time. I just remember wanting to become a fashion designer from elementary school. And then I just went to fashion school as a matter of course.

How do your current designs compare with the ones from your days as a student?

MUG:At school my work was a lot more theatrical and costume-oriented, because that was what I liked the most. Since starting G.V.G.V., though, I`ve geared very much towards real-clothes. My current designs are usually based on a single theme, in other words, a particular type of woman. But with theatrical costumes you can approach your design from a variety of angles, because every costume is for a different character. That can be a lot of fun, and I do occasionally incorporate elements of stage costumes in my current designs.

How did G.V.G.V. begin?

MUG:I had graduated from school and started working for several company other than fashion, but then I quickly joined k3, and my boss just asked me if I wanted to start doing my own designing. So I didn’t join the company having already formed G.V.G.V.


What does G.V.G.V. stand for?

MUG:k3 has run a select shop called “grapevine by k3”. They named it “grapevine” with the hope that the shop’s reputation would spread by word of mouth and grow naturally into a big and lush network, i.e. like a vine. I thought that was a sweet and auspicious reason to name a brand, so I took the letters G.V., and then put two of them side by side, because I wanted my designs to express two distinct and opposing sides of women; the strong and independent side alongside the fragile and ephemeral side. This remains the central theme of G.V.G.V.’s designs. I use very basic blacks and beiges with strong colors, and then I add more ornate details and intricate designs on top.

What`s your thinking behind your presentation at the Tokyo Collection?

MUG:As a Tokyo based brand, we feel it’s important to showcase our work here as long as the demand for it is here. Of course, we also want people overseas to be able to see and feel these clothes for themselves in various select shops. Like the concept behind the name G.V.G.V., natural and unforced growth by word of mouth is very important for this, I think.

Your runways are known for their hardedged-ness.
How do you go about creating them? What are your inspirations?

MUG:Every season, I first conjure up a fictional female figure. The models that appear on the runway represent that figure. The basic inspirations differ from season to season, and they just reflect the things that interest me at that particular time, whether it be music, photography, film, or whatever. But rather than go looking for inspiration, I tend to just come across it through memory or little things in everyday life. That kind of spontaneity seems the most honest source of inspiration to me.

I can`t really go into who or what my muse for the next Spring / Summer collection is, but I came across it in the same way. I do find it important, though, to always be presenting something new and fresh, and so I take care not to rehash and regurgitate too much.

Please tell us about the next Spring/Summer collection!

MUG:Well, I was recently in Morocco for the first time, and that felt very exotic and stimulating to me. I guess there are some influences from there in the new collection, particularly in the choice and combination of colors. Another thing is that I’ve collaborated with other designers on brand shoes and watches this time, so that should be very exciting!


Are you planning on doing more collaboration items in the future?

MUG:Yes, when it comes to items that, left to our own devices, we would otherwise be unable to come up with. If the two parties involved can contribute something unique to each other, then it`s worth it. So if the right opportunity arises, then I’m totally willing.

Is there a difference between the image you present on the runway and the items that actually sell the best?

MUG:The purpose of the runway is to present a theme. The runway can be the first impression someone has of your work, so I think it`s crucial to use it to state your concepts and designs as frankly and as clearly as possible; as if to say, “Here I am. I am G.V.G.V.” When it comes to putting those clothes in shops, we do think about color variations and pricing. Markets are so varied and fast-paced these days that it’s getting more and more difficult to pinpoint the value of any given brand, but our aim is to simply deliver our work to as many likeminded and fashion-conscious people as possible without compromising our ideals.

Finally, what are you into these days, generally?

MUG:Through my DJ-ing and selection of music for our runways, I`m currently compiling a G.V.G.V. compilation album. I’ve been sifting through music for that for the past year or so. I’m also into organic food. Since I started going to the Farmer`s Market, I’ve become very discerning in the quality of vegetables I buy. I try not to eat red meat, and stick mainly to vegetables and brown rice. So I suppose I’ve been getting a bit healthier.

All in all, a designer and a woman to be reckoned with. Watch out for her!


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