Among LVMH Prize finalists Matthew Williams of Alyx, Christelle Kocher of Koché, and Glenn Martens of Y/PROJECT, who count Virgil Abloh and Kanye West among their fans, designer Hiromichi Ochiai is the least well known. He is the force behind Facetasm, a label with a cult following that specializes in luxury streetwear done with Japanese tailoring. What Ochiai lacks in notoriety he makes up in sheer enthusiasm, as he made clear in an interview from Japan this week, as Tokyo Fashion Week was gearing up. His fall collection, which will only be shown as a look-book, was in fact inspired by the "reality of Tokyo."
A graduate of Japan’s Bunka Fashion College, Ochiai, 39, has been designing since 2007 and was selected by Giorgio Armani in 2011 to show at Milan Men’s Fashion Week, which finally put his name on the map, of menswear anyway.Reflecting on his nomination for the prestigious French prize, Ochiai said he doesn't mind if he doesn't win when the awards are handed out in June. It was just an honor to be nominated, as they say. His hope is that the spotlight will allow him to eventually show outside of Japan.
Congratulations on being an LVMH Prize finalist! What does this nomination mean for you as a designer?
Thank you very much for the compliment. I felt that we needed to be much more influential in the world. It made me motivated, and at the same time I felt that there are lots of people who have the same feelings as me about creation.
What was it like meeting with the judges like Karl Lagerfeld?
It was a short time that I could talk to Karl, but I was happy that he stopped by at out booth, and liked the collection. It was a big experience for us to meet such experts. [W editor in chief] Stefano Tonchi told us that he feels that we are the next Sacai, and that stuck in my mind a lot.
When did you start designing?
We started our unisex design at Tokyo in 2007.
How would you describe the Facetasm aesthetic?
I have respect for the rules and traditions of fashion, but by growing up in Tokyo, I now think I do not need to obey those rules. We always change and challenge ourselves. This is our style. Our customers have a genderless sense, and they are really independent and true to themselves.
What does “Facetasm” mean?
The brand name “Facetasm” is a word coined from “facet,” which means various sides. We do not stick to a rule. We always have a new face for our creation.
What are your inspirations? And what were you looking at when designing the fall collection?
I get inspiration from my city, from the people and views around me. For the Fall 2016 collection, I wanted to express the reality of Tokyo. Tokyo is a city with lots of slopes and rivers. If you look up, you can see a beautiful sunlight coming between the high buildings. The city is big and busy, but on the other hand there are lots of sensitive parts. I incorporate those parts in my design by layering the fabrics to create volume.
Are you inspired by Japanese history? If so, in what ways does it influence your designs?
I lived my youth by looking all sorts of different cultures. In the high fashion world, there was the “Antwerp Six,” and on the other hand there were totally different movements, for example Patagonia. This all came to Tokyo, and the city became a place that you could do anything.
This is the first time you're showing only your look-book and not a runway show. How do you feel about the global fashion climate today?
I am still experiencing lots of things, so I do not know yet. But for now we feel that we need to do a runways show outside of Japan.
What goals do you have for the brand?
I do not decide a goal.