In 2020, when the world was first struck by the current pandemic, people’s lives changed completely. As part of the ‘new normal’ and during the coronavirus times, where the way we work and live our daily lives has changed, what does Tetsu Nishiyama think? “I think, the border between ‘on’ and ‘off’ in our lives is disappearing. During these difficult times, many people are working remotely, and you cannot meet people to socialize or eat out in a relaxed manner. Now that everybody is spending a lot of time at home, I think, smartness is important. That is, even though a pandemic has hit us, time still passes and seasons continue to change. In a sense, most things we used to pay attention to have become less important, and we tend to forget about being playful. Actually this is when ‘smartness’, which we have nearly forgotten can make us feel more positive”. From his comment, you can understand how Nishiyama thinks about everyday style. For example, when you wear a pair of sweatpants, it is important what kind of item you choose to go with them, and how to make a ‘style’ out of it. This smartness, the small attention to detail, is the key to creating Nishyama’s own sophisticated style. “In the first place, our job is to propose ‘how to be smart’, and if we cannot do our job properly, then I ask myself what we should do now?” His philosophy is a reflection on his outfit on the day. Looking at his feet, I saw he was wearing ‘Stan Smith’ shoes with different heel colours on the left and right, but this pair is part of an official collection. There was a style called ‘acid coordination’ in the 1980s, which was created by getting two pairs of the same shoe model but in different colours and wearing one of each pair together. Considering this movement which became popular among skaters who valued rebelliousness and fashion, it is interesting to see that Stan Smith has now released this style as an official product. But above all, I cannot help being impressed by his fashion attitude and how he wears them so effortlessly. “Nowadays, I don’t think wearing an expensive rare item, or brand clothing makes you instantly a ‘fashionable’ person. In that sense, where you pay attention to and where you don’t will define if you are smart or not, I suppose”. It doesn’t matter what kind of trend the world is following, or what kind of product prominent brands are proposing. The experiences, personal tastes and playfulness are supporting the foundation, and the sensibility is inspiring the core of life. Simply, through these elements, one can express original style. That is the real fashion which is blended into everyday life.
The ‘work style’, which accounts for a substantial part of peoples’ daily life, has changed. By clarifying how to use time, one can manage one’s work more efficiently, says Nishiyama. Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he tried to build a working environment suitable for the ‘new normal’ while giving consideration and care to his employees’ health. For example, the badge of ‘Shade’ pinned to his outer jacket implies Nishiyama’s personality, one where he values his friends. It was actually a gift from one of his employees, and I was personally moved by seeing that Nishiyama took it on as part of his own fashion style. From the fact that you can not only see what his favourite music group is, but also what he really cares about.
In this way, the items you wear or carry with you will reflect your personality, and perhaps his key holder that Nishiyama carries simply show us who he is. Coincidentally, the ones presented here happened to be in the same form, but his other keys such as the key to his home are also made in the same form as these. There is a reason for this: “Usually, keys are all different in size and shape, they are disorderly and have a lived-in feel. So, I always ask a locksmith to cut my keys to the same length. I suppose, a keyholder appears as an important motif in a film, and it gives us a glimpse into the personality of the owner. I can infer that a person with a bunch of keys of all different shapes has a ‘disorganized’ manner about them, and a person with orderly keys is well organized. I believe it can give us a glimpse into those things”. You might not notice at a first glance, but when you look at his style, you will see his fashionable taste, and it doesn’t require any explanation. Style can imply personality, attitude and taste. For Nishiyama, it is also important to reflect his cultivated style to also where it is not easily visible to people, and this philosophy embodies itself in the items that Nishiyama uses in his daily life. “When and how to show it?” In times when the opportunities to simply meet people are decreasing, what Nishiyama values is ‘how to be smart’. Because he goes to the hair dressers less frequently now, he has started to wear a cap- for the first time in about twenty years. His current favourite is a New Era’s ‘Low Crown’ with a curved visor.
He chose the cap for its design, but the other reason he wears it is because he is considerate of others when meeting people in this new-normal era. This gave a glimpse of him ‘being attentive’ that Nishiyama talks about. Looking at the face of his watch, I noticed he was wearing a vintage Rolex Explorer I Ref. 1016 ‘Tiffany & Co.’ As the original strap had worn out, he replaced it with a NATO strap and wears the classic timepiece on a daily basis. I find it rather stylish that he wears such a luxury item in a nonchalant, dressed-down manner, and casually blends it with his outfit. You can also see that he likes the item and intends to wear it for a long time.
Now, looking at his label ‘DESCENDANT’, you will notice some changes. “I want our customers to understand our label well enough to find additional value in our product. That’s why I am conscious of what we can do beyond just making clothes”. From this viewpoint, the brand started working on digital transformation by focusing on delivering a message from the company’s website. “DESCENDANT is a brand with diverse ideas and perspectives, which seamlessly considers things such as gender, age, or nationality. Moreover, we think it is also an important issue to think about people in the future and what we can do for them”, says Nishiyama. Utilising online commerce reduces paper usage and this leads to a reduction in the use of raw materials for pulp production. This approach also aligns with another issue; forest preservation. The actions taken by DESCENDANT are not proclaiming sustainability to the world. Rather, that they are made naturally in a common sense way. He regularly uses a bottle manufactured by ‘Hydro Flask’, which DESCENDANT had a collaboration with in the past. From him choosing such an item, we can see he is conscious about sustainability issues.
Now, consumers seem to need a clearer reason why they should own a product. What matters to them now is the manufacturer’s vision when they produce their product. The customers act: i.e.: the possession or wearing of an item, signifies their ‘approval’ of the brand. “It used to be good just to be cool. But now, we are experiencing a global situation that has changed the whole ballgame. Today, the concept and philosophy, as well as history of a brand are the subject matters of concern, then customers decide whether they want to follow or support the brand or not. I find this change is a very good thing. We have always considered and stated that this is important, but I think, it is time to convey the philosophy and core value of the brand more than ever”, commented Nishiyama about this current trend. Leaving the mass consumption era behind, people are now placing emphasis on nature and the environment. This is an obvious trend in modern times, but Nishiyama is, and has always been conscious of nature. “Going camping, playing in the river and fishing. I learnt as a child how to deal with and appreciate nature. We as adults knew all about it when we were children, but we are now rediscovering the important essence of it after the pandemic struck us really hard”. Owing to his underlying philosophy, sustainable elements can be adopted to the stance of DESCENDANT in a subtle manner and, at the same time this approach can convey the brand’s philosophy to customers, in a more powerful way than just verbal expression. I assume we as customers, are expected to seek and learn about the brand’s concept well before considering whether we can agree or disagree with the brand’s product or not. And I think this approach will lead to one’s own fashion philosophy. “In a dictionary, ‘chic’ is synonym for ‘smart’” says Nishiyama. This is the essence of fashion and, his approach to fashion in everyday life. Such smartness that you can find in Nishiyama’s everyday life has something in common with the attitude which DESCENDANT is presenting to society. The brand subtly suggests the sense which underlies modern society, and represents questions such as; what is smart, and what is chic?- In our daily lives. It is not about overly dressing up, but about becoming smart by being conscious about the small, little things in life. That is to be chic, which resonates the theme, Daily Chic in this feature story.
A Creative Director and Designer at FORTY PERCENT AGAINST RIGHTS®, WTAPS® and DESCENDANT.
|Photo Makoto Nakamori||Interview & Text Ryo Tajima||Edit Shohei Kawamura
Translation: Fumie Tsuji