Interview & Report

Rikuya Hayashi

Rikuya Hayashi


Rikuya Hayashi (born in Tokyo, 1995). After studying at Bunka Gakuen University, coconogacco and FIT in New York, he graduated from Musashino Art University
He invents textiles, conceives color and texture and alter silhouette with a hint of workwear and military clothing.
SUGARHILL is known for its own original textiles. In collaboration with various factories in Japan, we develop products with quality texture, feelings and color.

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“SUGARHILL”, started in 2016 by the designer, Rikuya Hayashi, while he was still a university student. Gathering popularity among young generations with his collections of sublimating rough military, work wear into high quality wear through his independently developed materials and patterns.
Last year, he was awarded the TOKYO FASHION AWARD 2022, at the young age of 26 years old. Having taken their first step towards advancing overseas, we spoke to Mr. Hayashi, on this brand that is greatly expected to excel forward in the future.

Please tell us how you came to start up your brand.

During my university days, I transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY, to study men’s pattern making and tailoring. During my studies at NY, I experienced interning, and started up “SUGARHILL” at the same time I returned to Japan. While tying a contract with a showroom to start business as a brand, I wanted to study design more multifariously than just apparel, so after returning to Japan, I enrolled in Musashino Art University, majoring in Scenography, Space & Fashion Design, continuing my studies along with my business. This upcoming 23 S/S will be our 11th season.
I am suggesting clothes thinking, I wish them to look cool even when soiled. Rather than aiming to make clothes that look great when brand new, I aim to create clothes that will be loved and enjoyed for years to come, even if they get damaged.

Has there been anything that turned out to be a turning point for the brand?

I think the brand is transforming every time we go through a season. In a positive sense, it’s like new problems or tasks arise every season and we grow by surely clearing each, one by one.

What problems or tasks did you face in the 23 S/S season?

This season, the problem I faced personally was color balance. The production problem I wrestled was deciding on what colors to incorporate into the materials we developed from scratch. At SUGARHILL, we create collections in a flow of inventing textiles, conceiving forms and altering silhouettes. In inventing textiles, which we hold dear every season, we give birth to new textiles by going to factories to study techniques, communicating with factories on possibilities that became apparent through efforts of past seasons. This season, I produced contemplating how to combine colors of each textile.
As a brand, in facing a grave change in market from domestic to overseas, we are challenging ourselves in switching from our conventional ways of expression of filling our items completely with my preferences to a new way of expression to fit new markets. In order to be accepted by a wider doorway, we are leaving lee ways in styling, and instead of relying on local cultural backgrounds that only Japanese can understand, we were conscious of making globally understandable fashion culture suggestions.

Are there any brands or designers you have been influenced by as a designer?

There are none in particular. I’ve seen the works of many designers, and I think I have been influenced in all sorts of ways.

Please tell the state of your present business.

Presently, we have approximately 30 accounts domestically. As for overseas, we had some accounts previously, but as for overseas exhibits, the one we did at Paris this time was our very first.

Your very first exhibit at Paris. How was the response?

In Japan, SUGARHILL is often featured for denims, but at overseas, people see and appraise our brand without any prejudice, and we expect to gain a few overseas accounts. Because the venue was structured in an installation style, it enabled us to have buyers unfamiliar with our brand stop by, so we are satisfied with the results of our first exhibit. I also liked being able to communicate directly and being able to convey my character, what kind of person I am. I feel, conveying the designer’s personality deepens the attractiveness of the brand.

What kind of response did you receive from the buyers and journalists visiting the venue?

Our leather items and checkered pattern rayon textile items were highly praised for being never seen before items. However, because the brand itself seemed completely new and unique, with no similar brands existing before in any market, they seemed a little baffled. At first glance it looks like an American brand but has an Asian taste, with never seen before techniques being used … like that. Here, I felt the need to convey the context of our clothes correctly so it will penetrate overseas markets. In order to deepen mutual understanding, including linguistics and cultural understanding, I strongly intend to face our next endeavor in Paris with methods of communication befitting me.

This past March, you participated in Fashion Week TOKYO as the award winner of TFA. How was your presentation in Tokyo?

It was simply lots of fun. Rather than it being a presentation of our 22 A/W collection, the show was constructed as a mix of past season collections, as a presentation towards our domestic customers. Thanks to presenting the show, we received a lot of media exposure, with an increase in appointments for our exhibition. All in all, I feel we have taken a step up as a brand.

Please tell us what you would like to challenge in the future, as a brand and as a designer.

I would like to continue producing with a wide view, so I would like to work on collaborations geared for overseas markets, or special order per shop, beyond language or nationality barriers. Business wise, I think it is important to continue increasing sales every season by 150% and continue without selling out.

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