TOKKOU - Bringing Japanese fashion to the western world.
In fashion, we are always looking for the next big thing, from Flared jeans to Kanye's Yeezy's there is always a hot point in fashion, some last decades other just a few months, but looking to lead the way in one of the next trends is Japanese denim fashion brand TOKKOU. The London-based brand are set to light the western world on fire with there Japanese denim garments and it's fair to say they have a strong chance in doing it.
We sat down the brand owner to get a real insight into the contemporary Japanese fashion brand, to discuss where it all started, where the inspiration and motivation behind the brand comes from and how he brought Japanese fashion to the western world successfully.
For those reading this that might not be familiar with your brand,how would you sum up TOKKOU?
We are TOKKOU, a made-in-Japan fashion brand, based in London. Our clothing is made by exquisite craftsmanship, and our two best selling denim dress and shirts are made from world-famous "Okayama" Denim.
Contemporary Japanese fashion meets bōsōzoku. This is the true essence of Tokkou, a Japanese subculture clothing brand. The name TOKKOU comes from the Japanese term tokkō-fuku, which means "Special Attack Clothing" -- another key element of the bōsōzoku look. Full leather suits, leather jackets with embroidered gang logos, round sunglasses, pompadour hairdos and hachimaki headbands with battle slogans became standard elements of the biker gang fashion.
What was the inspiration behind you launching your own brand?
TOKKOU's cutting edge designs take inspiration from Japanese youth subculture called Bousou-zoku, and it has a close connection with their biker gangs in the 1980s.
TOKKOU's owner Masa used to be a member of Bousou-zoku, and he feels he would need to keep this fantastic design alive as the culture is diminishing. Our designs are taken from the vintage clothing which Bousou-zoku used to wear called Tokkou-fuku (Special-Attach-Clothing), and we are here to popularise this street culture into the world.
All the Japanese words written on our clothes are associated with bōsōzoku, and some are motivational some are punk-like.
Here are the top five:
Not giving up
One Shot One blow (Fighting Spirit)
Unify a country
As fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire, and immovable as the mountain
To accept a challenge (if necessary)
Where did you start when you decided to launch TOKKOU?
The brand has been around three years, and Masa decided to launch the brand when he saw non-Japanese designer, showing a collection based on Bousou-zoku.
He knew Tokkou-fuku and Sotsuran, the Graduation fashions, are attracting attention overseas because they have been featured in Japanese Manga comics and wanted to introduce the culture from Japan with a Japanese designer. That was how the fashion brand “特 攻 TOKKOU” was born.
What was your first product you sold? Are you still selling it now?
Definitely, Japanese denim products, Japanese denim is , first of all, denim produced in Japan, denim woven on vintage shuttle looms which are slow, relatively rare, and take great skill to maintain and repair, yet produce very unique and interesting fabric.
We have just introduced the two types of Japanese denim masks as masks have become the hottest new accessories across much of the world.
Unlike other major denim labels, Japanese denim usually uses proprietary, old fashioned, natural dyeing techniques that create rich fades and electric blues over time. Many Japanese denim houses have developed their own proprietary dyeing techniques that have been perfected over generations, some even doing so entirely by hand, a very time-consuming and labour-intensive process. But finishing is absolutely beautiful.
How do you keep TOKKOU fresh and different from the rest of the competition?Brand Concept is taking design ideas only from existing Tokkou and Sotsuran clothing, which is unique. Bosouzoku (Japanese Greaser) culture is declining. However, junior high school kids still customize their uniforms for their graduation ceremony, and we would like to introduce their designed clothes across the world.
TOKKOU has deep Japanese fashion roots, how do you bring that to the western world? Have you had to change much with the fabrics and designs?
Western-style clothes are trendy in Japan. Very few people wear kimonos, which are traditional Japanese clothing. Our fabrics and designs are the same as the Western-style, although they are sourced and made in Japan. What we've learned in the last three years is that Western people, regardless of gender, are larger in every part of their body. There were many times when the arms and hems were too tight to fit. We think this was another area for improvement in the future.
What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
We have a core collection titled Shining in the Dark. We designed this black-based collection in the hope that the wearer shines even while riding their motorcycle in the Dark.
Our new collection is inspired by Oasis's "Live Forever" song. The Lyric somehow linked to the "Bosozoku" kids in our mind. I want to express a combination of destruction and beauty by designing damaged-jeans, Sporty clothes and different materials.
We don't follow the yearly collection schedule as we believe our designs are evergreen pieces. We choose a drop-model, and we dropped stunning cow-hide leather jacket, and denim masks this year and we plan to drop more very soon.
Can you give us any exclusives on what the future looks like, with new collections?
We are thinking about more sustainable brand development, such as making clothes using recycled materials; Cardboard knits, cotton made of Japanese paper woven into a fabric, and cloth made from recycled paper are in consideration.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you, Curtis
You can check the brand it it's full range over at www.tokkou.co.uk