BAL is a modern wear brand presenting as a cross-cultural mix from the 90’s. Ryusuke Eda, a designer of the brand, has been riding a fixie around the streets of Tokyo since his teens. Sometimes intensively, sometimes slowly. His cycle life symbolically reflects his lifestyle at different times. Seeking new discoveries and inspiration, he cycles down the streets.
“I used to ride a bike with a drop-handlebar and a heavy gear, and liked skidding to break. Instead of suddenly breaking or suddenly starting, I rode without stopping, just like how blood circulates. That is the way that messengers and bike riders believed was best to avoid traffic jams or accidents. When riding like that, you have a great sensation, almost as if you are blending into the streets. But I cycled too much and got back ache. So it’s good that now I just ride relaxed, between home and work”.
The way he rides now might be less energetic, but it seems that the slow ride brings him certain benefits. “You can park a bike almost anywhere you want. So, it is convenient that you can drop by at a book store or a clothing shop easily. Just cruising around in the city will give you many findings. I feel excited just by thinking about the route to the destination. You can stop by or make a detour. By doing so, you might be able to find something new. Because it is a bicycle, you can enjoy the convenience and a wider range of activities. It is said that graffiti artists, such as Futura, have sought out spots while riding a bike as a messenger since they were young. I was fascinated by the stories. Ever since, I started to ride a bike like them. It is fun to ride a bike as I can feel alert to the changes of the city”. Moving around the city while seeking a spot, if you can discover something new in this way, it will obviously broaden your range of interests.
Eda found various sources of inspiration from the streets while cycling. Eda has been riding a fixie as if he was blended into the city. It is no surprise that he upholds a concept; “supporting clothing and supplying graphics that adapt to urban life” for BAL. In fact, the brand develops items with layered fabrics, with functions such as water-proofing and moisture control, as well as storm-proofed fleece materials. Using technical and functional materials may have been inspired by Eda’s life style of often being in the city and riding a bicycle.
As he became a bicycle enthusiast, he produced an original bicycle in collaboration with a bicycle shop, CARTEL BIKES. The reason why his hobby turned into the collaboration work is because he had consistently rode a fixie for many years and cultivated his know-how of it. He tells us why fixies are so special to him. “A fixie is adjustable anywhere if you have a wrench and an Allen key. You don’t need many parts, and the gears are directly connoted without a transmission. Because it’s so simple you won’t get into much trouble. With the minimum tools, you can enjoy riding in the city without a worry. I am fascinated by this minimal construction and formative art. The same way I’ve tried various pairs of sneakers, I’ve tried various bike frames. Since it is possible to assemble by favourite parts, I can build one with parts sorted by years or by country. A custom-made item is interesting as you can see the characteristics of its owner. That’s why I created an original bicycle. I wanted our customers to know how much fun you can have with a bicycle”. Because he knows how cool it is to ride a bike, his directorial spirit wants to present this aesthetic to his customers. And from those who understood his message, the aesthetics of a bicycle will spread further around the world, which will surely inspire someone else’s creativity.
BAL director. Besides deigning products for BAL, he was recently involved in a project combining design and food, such as a graphic design for a curry restaurant HENDRIX, and a natural wine specialty HUMAN NATURE.
|Photo John Clayton Lee||Interview & Text Yutaro Okamoto||Translation Fumie Tsuji|