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CANALIZE meets Hirofumi Kurino  INTERVIEW

The Future Of Fashion
Ravaged By The System

CANALIZE meets Hirofumi Kurino

Hirofumi Kurino
Born in 1953, Kurino is a senior advisor in charge of Creative Direction in United Arrows Ltd.. After graduating from college, Kurino worked for around a year in Suzuya and then moved on to work for BEAMS. Having accumulated experience in the world of fashion, Kurino took part in founding United Arrows Ltd. in 1989, and went through several important posts to reach his current position as senior advisor. He is also currently the executive committee chairman of “TWEED RUN TOKYO,” whose purpose is to enjoy cycling around town while stylishly donning tweeds. Additionally this year, Kurino has been selected by ‘’ as one of “30 Most Stylish Men In The Fashion World.”

Shaping By Following Society’s Trend,

The World Of Fashion At The Moment

——You’ve said on your blog, “the generation in which we buy items based on trend has ended.” What do you think people use as their basis when making a purchase nowadays?

“After the war, Japan experienced rapid development in machinery as well as product distribution which led to capitalization in the form of mass production and mass consumption. All in all, the society focused on selling more items in shorter time which necessitated the forming of ‘trends.’ As a result, instead of considering the functionality of the clothes, consumers have come to recognize solely the ‘trendiness’ of them; in other words, fashion in Japan’s capitalistic society had developed an obsessive desire in its consumers to appear fashionable to others. In fact, I believe our such desires have not changed even in the year 2016. The current turning point for fashion is that the trendiest clothes have become much more available and affordable due to a significant increase in supply in the last 50 years. As a matter of fact, ever since the most fashionable clothes became affordable to everyone, the ones who are currently leading in fashion trend are ‘individuals’ who post their selfies on social network websites.”

——So, alongside social change came a shift in our desires in fashion. Can you offer specific examples?

“For example, following the appearance of the grungy style in 1993, the fashion world experienced an era in which style on the streets became more interesting than on the catwalk. From the early to mid-90’s, fashion had gone down the path where professional designers had to observe the trend of the streets. It could be claimed that the power of fashion declined during this time; it was after the subsequent emergence of ‘fast fashion’ that the majority of the people gained access to the trendiest, yet affordable clothes. The merit of ‘wearing trendy clothes’ declined by popularization.”

――You also said fashion leaders have changed too. How did this happen?

“Until around 10 years ago, fashion leaders were mainly ‘celebrities’ such as stylists or designers themselves. However, ever since people came to recognize bloggers, I believe the subjects of photographers like Scott Schuman (author of “THE SARTORIALIST”) and Tommy Tom became the new fashion leaders. Following the exposure of Schuman and Tom’s fashionable subjects was a trend of people dressing up trying to be photographed in the streets. Of course, now things have changed so that people upload their selfies on social network websites, thus reducing the influence of bloggers. But I believe this kind of self-exposure ought to let people dress themselves however they want without having to be conscious of being photographed or whether his or her clothes reflect the trend at the time. This is why I think us retailers should come up with items that are likable to people who maintain their own unique styles. I believe they will interest our buyers, too.”

――We see two kinds of manufacturers: ones who create flashy apparel to suit the demand of people who pursue originality, and ones who go against them and maintain their own styles while identifying their own essence. Do you think there will be a time the latter finds itself having more presence in society?

“That’s wishful thinking. Of course, the latter people themselves don’t desire to be overly exposed, nor dress up solely to be seen. Rather, they design and manufacture clothes that would make their customers think that it’s cool not to be wearing something that’s so common and trendy. I would presume we will also see some bloggers that take pictures of people who maintain their own unique styles.”

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Photography_Kenji Murata
Text_Yuri Nishikubo