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Under Daisuke Yokoyama’s guidance, Sasquatchfabrix. has cast itself as one of Japanese fashion’s most enigmatic brands. There’s an acute sense of understanding as to what the brand represents and its point-of-view. This confidence in what it represents—and what it does not—has allowed it to tackle traditionally unexpected topics from identity to social stances with a sense of honesty that’s hard to come by with other brands in the space.
Sasquatchfabrix. dates back to 2003 where it existed primarily as a publication for local Tokyo creatives. From there, it served as a vehicle for the brand to branch out into fashion and product. To the outside world, the brand has generally been perceived as a high street brand, but Yokoyama’s own beliefs stemming from the Japanese approach to blending cultures suggests otherwise.
There’s a level of complexity that comes with growing up on an island, yet with the magnitude of Japan. The intersection of internal and external cultures have played a large part in shaping not only the country but also Yokoyama’s own perspective.
In this Slam Jam Socialism exclusive, we speak with Yokoyama about why Sasquatchfabrix. was conceived, the role of architecture in his work, and the relationship between a brand and its customers.
What was the reason behind starting Sasquatchfabrix.?
I started the brand in 2003 with Katsuki Araki. We studied together at the same university. He moved back to the Southern part of Japan, Fukuoka, after the large tsunami. Ever since, I’ve done Sasquatchfabrix. by myself.
Was there a perspective to fashion you felt you could introduce?
I tried to explore the definition of ‘how I continue this brand.’ I realized that we had designed and made ‘Western’ garments in spite of having a great history in our own garments such as kimonos. It’s not about wearing kimonos or other ethnic Japanese garb in the present, but I wondered how it was possible to mix different identities with present day Western-style fashion.
How does your educational background influence how you see fashion?
Japan is such an ‘island’ country known as the ‘Far East’ in the world. It’s where I grew up. It’s often stated that the earth revolves from west to east and therefore it’s believed that civilization emanated from the west and came east. After World War II, the Japanese had an influx of civilizations and cultures from the Western world. The Japanese term ‘mitate,’ is to see some resemblance or allegory in something and it became an important cultural term. In addition, it had been used as a way to describe cultural combinations with Europe and Americans, among other cultures. Such ways are common things we followed as creatives.
Architecture seems to have a lot of intrinsic value to fashion designers, what do you think it is?
I studied spatial design and landscape in university. Usually, architecture helps form the urban landscape. In the ’90s in Tokyo, I think the power of fashion started to come through, especially Harajuku, Shibuya, and Aoyama.
How has Sasquatchfabrix. changed over the years?
I continued the brand with a specific concept/theme since I became doing things on my own. I feel lately that the worldview and universe of what I have tried to communicate through them have permeated little by little.
What are some of your early challenges that you’ve solved? What are your current challenges?
I had a lot of challenges in the beginning. I try not to get caught up in them, so I don’t have any specific feelings towards challenges.
How do you channel your ideas into a tangible product or design?
I believe that fashion is always about a scene and generation. So fashion is something that documents or archives those scenes or generations. I also pay attention to the ethnic background of the brand, so I’ve tried to preserve the ethnic Japanese culture in my collections.
How important is it for people to understand the inspiration behind your design? Or is it just about the emotional element of fashion?
It is extremely important to know about the inspiration as much as possible especially when I define the themes, concepts, and art direction for the collections. I don’t think that I want a customer to know everything about it. It’s more important for customers to enjoy fashion or the clothing itself, although I want to trigger some emotion with each collection.
How important is experimentation for Sasquatchfabrix. In relation to you being a brand that requires a bit of consistency?
It is important for a creator like myself. It is difficult to create innovative and advanced collections without it.
How do collaborations enable you to experiment?
I don’t usually make collaborations a priority in that way, although I enjoy creating something different from what I usually do.
What did you think it’d be like starting your own brand? What is the reality?
I had a partner when I started this brand, so we were more impulsive when we started. Now I always try to go on the journey that allows me to hand down something to future generations.
Was there a particular emotional moment that ties back to Sasquatchfabrix.?
I remember that we had really impulsive emotions, but I don’t remember whether or not there was a specific reason… [laughs]. It seems we always had this rebellious spirit.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity)