Slow and Steady

Cult Japanese label Visvim ventures into women’s wear

Kelsi and Hiroki Nakamura

Dismayed by the ever growing wave of fast and cheap clothing, the Tokyo-based designer Hiroki Nakamura launched Visvim in 2001 with the belief that he could restore a sense of artistry and authenticity—“soul,” as he poetically puts it— to fashion. Among his first designs was the FBT Shaman shoe, a moccasin-sneaker hybrid he turned out in elk leather and high-tech foam that achieved cult status quicker than you can say Kanye West—a much photographed fan. Soon, Nakamura had a full-fledged men’s line, with most of the fabrics woven from scratch and hand-dyed the old-fashioned way—with mud, indigo, and crushed cochineal beetles. “I like the product to have character,” says Nakamura, who has eight stores in Japan and Hong Kong. “And to express love.” His new women’s wear line, which he designs with his American wife, Kelsi, arose just as organically. “I had customers coming in with their girlfriends, who were buying clothes in the smallest sizes available,” he explains. Much like its male counterpart, the women’s line, which is available Stateside at Barneys New York and Dover Street Market, takes cues from folk- and work-wear and will change only slightly from season to season. “It’s not about trends,” says Nakamura, referring to the aged-leather flight jackets, chambray kimonos, high-waist twill trousers, and “hers” versions of the FBT kicks. “I’m interested in creating goods women can grow with.”