A Feature on Streetwear Fashion Designer Hiroki Nakamura
by AKO • Aug 27, 2020 | FEATURES

Looking unique is part of what makes styling and designing a fruitful yet challenging task. Part of the challenge is consciously balancing the artistic influences that one appreciates while also having the responsibility to evolve the previous work and create something new. Still, if one cannot enjoy the work they develop, then perhaps it is not worth pursuing. With Visvim founder Hiroki Nakamura, that is precisely the mindset that helped carve out his path in the fashion industry. Dedicated to implementing his vintage clothing and future-retro interests, Nakamura helped pave the way for making the old look new again.

Growing up in Japan during the 80s, the clothing scene was largely dominated by the American industry. Fascinated by this trend, Nakamura decided to move out of Japan and eventually landed in Alaska, where he spent his time traveling the region, snowboarding and staying with local indigenous groups. When Nakamura returned to Japan, his job at Burton Snowboards inspired him to create a footwear company of his own, and thus, Visvim was born in 2001. It was then that Nakamura early on made a name for himself with the iconic Visvim FBT. The shoe was inspired by Native American styles that he encountered during his time in Alaska. The shoe was a success and became the symbol of Nakamura’s approach to clothing, which he describes as “create things that can be vintage in the future. That’s my goal: Future vintage.”

Photo credit: Rocky Li – Grailed.comVisvim operates a rather creative mode by having many of its products sold in what the company calls F.I.L (Free International Laboratory). Necessarily, there are Americana style stores with homely and straightforward constructed spaces. When viewing them, they get a sense of old school folk stores but fit right in what Nakamura has in mind. The clothing itself reflects much of the past that Nakamura favors in a new updated form. One of the most prominent examples of this methodology is Nakamura’s love affair with denim fabric. Wanting to include the same retro-future approach to denim. He wanted to recreate the kind of tone dryness that comes from wearing jeans in prolonged sun exposure. Evidently, it is difficult to recreate an effect in the coloring of the denim that naturally requires extensive time and exposure. Eventually, Nakamura found that adding paint and removing oil from the denim by hand allowed him to get the authentic sun feel he was looking for. While painstakingly tedious, Nakamura insists that each pair of jeans tailored by the special denim is worthwhile: “The textures, colors, and finishing processes are different with each pair of this unique denim, and we hope that you compare each of them at our store as if you’re searching for the right pair of vintage denim.” Indeed, the artistic stubbornness of Nakamura’s is rather valiant in times where quick production of clothing is essential for marketing. 

Still, the stubbornness comes with a price and a hefty one to be precise, with many of Visvim’s products going well over $200. Still, Nakamura insists that “I prefer to have things I can use for a long time that last… [Visvim]is expensive because I’m trying to discover things like old techniques and handmade craftsmanship. So the retail price will be very expensive”. Despite the grueling prices that obtain some Visvim’s clothing, one cannot help but hand out the benefit of the doubt when observing the premier level of detail that goes into each shirt or shoe. Looking at the Spring/Summer 2020 collection, one quickly finds out why. There is an oddly satisfying blend of old Japanese shirts that excuse age but bold coloring, almost like watching black and white photos come to life. The trademark native influence sandals remain a loyal companion to the brand, and the usage of those manually colored jeans showcase the personal love of old school denim. As Visvim continues to be successful and re-envision vintage fashion, Nakamura proves that doing what you love is worth any price.

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