A dialogue: Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jun Takahashi at Revolution, Sendai

On July 8, 2016, a talk event was held at Sendai’s ‘Revolution’ store to commemorate its 35th anniversary. Speakers are Hiroshi Fujiwara who presides over Fragment Design and Jun Takahashi, Undercover designer. Friends for some time, as two people still very active at the top of their field what are their current thoughts, their interests, and how do they deal with these when making things? This report attempts to record the candid conversation as it unfolded amidst a friendly atmosphere.

Photo, Kentaro Matsumoto | Edit & Text, Issey Enomoto

The point is “should I ask Hiroshi to do this?” (Takahashi)

——Have both of you together ever taken part in this kind of talk event in the past?

Fujiwara: Maybe it’s the first time.

Takahashi: Yeah, the first time.


Fujiwara: No really, it’s okay. Please don’t expect too much. (laugh)

——Have you ever had a conversation in print?

Fujiwara: Of course, yes.

Takahashi: A number of times.

——On Sendai?

Fujiwara: Since I come here nearly every year, it feels like being back again.

Takahashi: Yes, me too. Actually, it’s almost 2 and a half years to the day.

——It seems as if Hiroshi was responsible for selecting music for Jun’s Undercover show at Paris collection a few days ago. Jonio (Jun), can you explain the circumstances surrounding why you asking Hiroshi?

Takahashi: We wanted a more relaxed grown up atmosphere for this current collection. Apart from that, we thought if we ask Hiroshi to do the music, communication would be quick.

——So that you could selection the right music what kind of things were you thinking of Hiroshi? For example, what was uniquely challenging about the show?

Fujiwara: There was never anything that stood out as being difficult. As the theme song was decided to some extent, I thought the choice of music should feel as if centred on it. Though I many hardly any of the music for the show, I though if I tried it would be interested for the designer to interact through the music.

——Incidentally, Hiroshi your recent collaborated with Louis Vuitton became a big talking point, but what did you think about the kind of opportunity it was?

Fujiwara: Kim (Jones) showed me an image one day, saying “I’d like to do something along these lines”, then we exchanged ideas back and forth several times in the style of “Well in that case, we can also do this.” It felt like we finished in less than six months.

For me with respect to the collaboration, I doubt it came from saying “let’s try and do something together”. Most of the time it’s passive. I’m already a lot older than everyone else around me. Since I’m older, when I’m asked it’s hard for me to say no. (laugh)

——How about your AFFA collaboration project?

Fujiwara: AFFA is possible because it happens intermittently. If there’s something we want to do we can do even small amounts, seeing as we have no specific quantity in mind.

Takahashi: This is really good for me too, when I get in touch with Hiroshi saying I want to do this, doing something now and then.

Fujiwara:, For me it’s easier and more enjoyable, since there’s no pressure to it.

——Do you both occasionally meet up and talk?

Fujiwara: Actually we rarely meet. A few times a year. We chat once in a while and when there is something arrange to drop by the office and meet up. But when theres happening we may not meet for almost 3 years.

Takahashi: In the old days, we lived next door to each other (in the same apartment) …

Fujiwara: But even back then we didn’t see that much of each other, right?

Takahashi: Pacing the veranda back and forth (laugh)

Fujiwara: Well, precisely because we hardly ever met, when we eventually did meet up and talk after a long absence, when things that weren’t working out good stuff would then seem to happen.

Takahashi: Yeah maybe. The point is “should I ask Hiroshi to do this”. I think opportunities have come out of this as a result.
Which reminds me, I was really surprised when Hiroshi told me “I can do something normal” — Something simple and not ‘show’ specific. In that way I really want to refer back to what Hiroshi said before about working now and then.

——Jonio, I hear you’re starting a new line called ‘The Shepherd’. Can you tell us more about it?

Takahashi: I turn 47 this year and what I’m wearing is gradually becoming simpler looking. In the past I would also wear clothes I made myself, and came out of a big shift in what customers were searching for what people wanted to wear. I began thinking about creating a brand I could wear myself, without worrying about something like public image, even if everyday clothes were relaxed.

Fujiwara: It’s not a one-off but something you’ll keep working on?

Takahashi: Yep, I’ll keep working on it.

——By the way, Hiroshi you’re working as a university lecturer?

Fujiwara: Yes. We’re creating working together, working toward exhibitions with lectures as well.

Takahashi: What will lectures be about?

Fujiwara: Pop culture.

Takahashi: Wow. I want one of those

Fujiwara: Do you want to do from now on?

Takahashi: Please. (laugh)

Fujiwara: Yeah, what should we talk about … Yeah, its not that long ago that humans were primates. When we were apes we lived off anything we could find, which was the reason why life was bleak. While we quickly evolved, learning to hunt and make rice, before long we came to create ways for making rice delicious. For this it became important to cultivate the land. The origin of the word ‘Culture’ comes from the latin to ‘Cultivate’. So ‘Culture’ means to ‘cultivate the mind’. That in essence is Pop Culture, someone overworked cultivating their own mind in order to live by looking for interesting things … and that’s why I’m teaching this way.

I’m interested in what influences people these days (Fujiwara)

—— Is there anything that really excites you at the moment?

Fujiwara: I’m not sure, there must be something …. Jonio, do you have anything?

Takahashi: No … I’ve never really felt that way. Speaking of which, until recently I was asked to do ‘Ring of Colour’ but had nothing I really wanted to report on. It’s not that reports are not interesting but there are few that will react to them. In that respect, I think the power of information Hiroshi is sharing is amazing.

Fujiwara: But, for us too, there’s less emphasis placed on something being new. New things can be found everywhere and picked up by anyone. Their own personal archive, something they’ve come across in the past and found interesting, which others would be interested in.

Takahashi: Ah … I see, it’s like that. At the start we wanted to introduce what had an influence on Hiroshi starting ‘Ring of Colour’. But I’ve completely forgotten. (laugh)

Fujiwara: Well then, it’s time to make a come-back. (laugh)

Takahashi: Now that you mention it, there is still a lot of things that influence out there.

Fujiwara: I’m sort of excited either way: What would be the first CD someone bought, what kind of film had they just watched, what kind of music are they listening to, what are their influences, and what does that result in?

——Do you both think it’s good to hold on to things from the past?

Fujiwara: Since I basically never thrown things away, I have almost everything I’ve bought up until now. I still have something like the MA-1 jacket Jonio and I made together a long time ago. What about you Jonio …

Takahashi: No, I don’t. I having nothing of the early stuff (laugh) Because I would either give it away of discard. But for the most part it was good to do and have no regrets.

Fujiwara: While I also think I want to be minimalist, I keep on collecting stuff. Generally I think creative studios are clean and tidy but our’s is really messy. Seriously, it’s not funny, especially when Miyaneya (morning TV programme) come and interview us.

A special thanks to Revolution, Sendai