The way Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki talk about (Maison) Kitsuné is more in line with excited teenagers geeking out over the success of their first club night than as founders of a commercially successful fashion and music brand.
“The label is also doing very good!” they announce of the record label with the cult black and white illustrated sleeves, “Kitsuné is a proper music label: we sign acts and actively promote them,” we’re told, as if their output over the last 13 years had somehow escaped the Clash radar.
Thought up in 2002 while in Japan with Daft Punk (Loaëc is the masked pair’s former manager, Kuroki meanwhile was an architect), the duo were inspired to marry music and fashion by concept stores discovered in Tokyo. “For us, it was obvious to put those two activities under one roof and one brand experience, as we are truly passionate about both music and fashion.”
The music came first, with the debut ‘Kitsuné Love’ compilation released that year, while the Maison followed in 2005 with the arrival of the first ready to wear collection. “Since then, season after season we’ve been unveiling a contemporary vision of fashion influenced by Paris and Tokyo, and opening our proper Maison Kitsuné stores in cities such as Paris, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong.”
“We’re now sold in more than 300 sales points around the world,” comes the gorgeously naïve version of events (the figure of course, a reminder that they most definitely are not). “We love the idea of a lifestyle brand, and we achieve this through different mediums: Kitsuné the music label, Maison Kitsuné the clothing brand and now Café Kitsuné, our cafés in Paris and Japan! We’re very lucky so far, but we still are a small company compared to some giants in the market.”
Last September they made their fashion week debut in New York, possible via MADE Fashion Week (the same folks who gave Astrid Andersen a platform in the city), deciding to partake they say, because of the strength of their SS15 ‘Effortless French’ collection – “our best so far, we were ready for that kind of challenge”.
Despite talk of Paris fashion week plans (circa SS16, discussions pending), for AW15 the brand returned to its favoured show room strategy. Boasting 57 blue heavy looks (27 women’s, 30 men’s), the accompanying digital catalogues (above) adhere to a similar palette with background box files, loose wires and floppy discs each of an oceanic tone; elsewhere a stuffed fox, bizarre in the office setting, references the Japanese translation of the brand’s moniker.
“(The) collection is a tribute to the mysterious soul and beauty of South Korea,” Clash learns. “South Korea uses design, colour and patterns to significantly contribute to pop culture. We were inspired by each symbol and colour present on the Taegeukgi (the South Korean flag), for example the colour palette. We also have some artists we love in the K-pop music scene and were thinking that it was fun to wink at them…”
Previous interviews have seen the guys speak of ‘remastering the standard’ with each collection, which translates to the clothing as a specific streamlined silhouette and “the same Parisian essence with a little touch of our current inspirations. We’re trying to constantly reinvent the classics by giving them a modern twist, adding and paying attention to materials, finish and details.”
While the two clothing collections they design each season tend to follow a similar if not identical aesthetic, Gildas and Masaya reckon menswear is about strong, clean cut design and womenswear instead focused on the details; women, apparently, are “continuously seduced by brands and new young designers.”
As for the great music vs. fashion divide, the pair describe the two entities as different worlds with different codes, environments and cycles. Both, however, resonate with regard to the details, care and vision. “The idea was always to have both a label and a brand,” they offer. “One was never the subsidiary of the other; they work independently but in harmony.”
Next up are collaborations with Reebok Classics and the Beligum chocolatier, Pierre Marcolini. Naturally.
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Photos: Paul Bliss