First of all, could you tell us about the technique you used for this project? Different items are reconstructed with staples.
I used an industrial device called a pneumatic stapler, which is an advanced version of the stapler used in the earlier collections of KOZABURO. The concept of bridging two different things has been important to me since the launch of the brand. For example, connecting the two aspects of yin and yang or connecting the East and West.
How did you gather the materials, the garments, one by one?
I went to a thrift store in Jamaica, Queens and picked up used clothes one by one. It's a place where clothes from all over the world come together, mainly for donations, or in other words it's a place where clothes that have served their lifetime purpose end up. Since my studio is located in New York, I mainly chose items that have an American feel, such as graphics and items that have an American Orientalism. I decided the colors, sizes, and meanings of the symbols and created them in an improvisational way.
You cut it in half and used the other half as an item. What was your intention?
In general, I think remaking items often use multiple garments in the process of making one piece. In this project, I wanted to create a structure that would not be wasteful by using three materials to make three items.
The colors consist mainly of red, black, navy, and blue. These are the key colors of KOZABURO, aren't they?
In Neil Young's song "HEY HEY, MY MY", there is a verse that says "out of the blue and into the black". I was personally deeply moved by those words. I always continue to have a sense of gradation in my mind, like the feeling of going from youth to adulthood in the midst of a color transition, or from sunset to night, and from night to morning glow. The colors associated with these things have become the key colors for KOZABURO.
As a source of inspiration, you mentioned the horse locust bond, a vessel used by Yoshimasa Ashikaga that has a distinctive tie. What kind of aesthetic sense do you feel from this vessel?
The locust tea bowl is said to have been the origin of the kintsugi technique. According to legend, Yoshimasa Ashikaga broke his favorite celadon tea bowl and sent the broken bowl to China to see if he could find something similar to it in China. They sent it back with the cracks repaired with staples, saying that they could no longer produce such an excellent product. However, it is said that Yoshimasa loved the appearance of the fixed bowl, and the value of the bowl itself increased for him. I feel that there is an oriental sense of beauty in this story. I myself like things that have an aesthetic sense hidden in their roughness, and I always want to express this in my creations. I sometimes feel the same way in different cultures. For example, the crusty pants worn by crust punks are made by spinning and repairing the patches themselves, and I feel that each repair represents the personality of the individual wearing them.
We live in an age where it is easy to recreate the texture and feel of items that have inspired us through modern technology. While there are many designers who limit themselves to superficial reproductions, you, Kozaburo, continue to make things while referring to your own roots.
Creation should also be your narrative, right? I could have just cut the items and sewed them with an overlock machine, but that would have been boring... I think it is meaningful for me to do the whole process of selecting the items, cutting them, and connecting them. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't be able to make it and wouldn't feel satisfied.
I have the impression that KOZABURO's items have details that give a sense of aggression and danger, such as the staples and sandpaper used in this collection. However, on the other hand, such details are delicately created by hand, aren't they?
I think it's probably my personality and upbringing, but I like things that give me the chills. For example, The Durutti Column's "The Return of the Durutti Column," a record with a sleeve made of sandpaper, is one of those things. There is an aggressive side to them that can damage other records when you take it off the shelf, but the music they make is so delicate. I like that duality and the way the aggression comes out with each movement. It's not simple aggression, but more of a passive aggression...
I feel that there is a DIY aspect to punk. I don't want to make a cheap connection, but is there a correlation with sustainability as well?
One of them is a leather jacket without lining, made only with rivets and hand stitching. I feel a tremendous punk spirit in these items that were hand crafted by amateurs, one by one. There is a relationship between the clothes and the people wearing the clothes. In short, I think custom handmade items are the most punk. In relation to sustainability, I am fascinated by Japan's unique culture of using things up, and I am also working on Sakiori. For example, I feel that there lies a key to the future in traditional cultural styles, such as boros.
You started PRM, a separate line from KOZABURO, with the design concept of "RE-PURPOSE, RE-MAKE, RE-CYCLE". Where does your awareness of sustainability come from?
On a personal note, my mother is from the countryside and has what is now called a "mottainai spirit”(a sense of regret over waste). So that awareness was naturally ingrained in me as I was growing up, or in a sense, it's like a spot on me. I think this is where my interest in Japanese culture and my interest in things that contain beliefs, and things that have accumulated the thoughts of their makers and owners over time came from.