julius 7

anonymous asked:

with all the early 2000 revival which brands aren't getting enough attention?

Of interest particular to this website, 2004 - 2006 Julius_7 and 2005 onwards of Cloak NYC (i.e., the Weimar butch years.) Of significance particular to history, obviously Continues.

Scoute Interview of Julius designer, Tatsuro Horikawa

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Avant-garde author William S. Burroughs created  “Interzone” to represent a metaphorical, stateless area loosely based on post war Tangier, which became a haven for criminals, artists, drug smugglers and tax evaders due to its falling between rules and laws. The head-quarters of Tatsuro Horikawa, the mastermind behind infamous Japanese clothing phenomenon Julius, seems to occupy a similarly ambiguous place.

Prologue

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Located somewhere in-between various well-known areas such as big city Shinjuku, shopping paradise Shibuya and trend central Harajuku, Sendagaya is hard to classify and the Julius HQ even harder to find. The Atelier is a concrete bunker, whose entrance can only be found hidden behind tight rows of black, high-powered motorbikes and the designers own “Batmobile” lookalike BMW, which he uses for inspirational runs around the city and to connect him to his factory-like Industrial Art Space on it’s outskirts. Once down the steep stairs, one can enter a concrete warren of black clad disciples all intensely engaged in various aspects of disseminating the Julius Aesthetic into the outside environment. It looks more like an anarchist sect or religious cult than a fashion movement, and in fact, “fashion” is not really a word that Tatsuro Horikawa cares much about. In the space there is original Horikawa designed metal furniture and several of his own bronze art pieces and paintings as well as giant prints from the latest MA shoot. It is here, that he oversees every aspect of the creation of his collections, from the coating on the denim to the music mixed specially for the cat-walk and the pictures for the look-book. Everything is done in-house and much of it, for example the photography and styling, personally by the designer and his assistants.

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The man himself is also difficult to track down. Doing much of his designing very early in the morning and finding much of his inspiration very late at night, early evening is the time he spends in production meetings and testing out new designs. In fact it soon becomes apparent that the designer and his staff are usually dressed head to toe in prototypes from future collections as well as his own archive, resulting in pieces on the Paris runway which have already been road-tested to the limit. When in residence, surrounded by staff, clothed totally in black, covered in esoteric tattouage and with his trade-mark intense gaze, he is instantly recognisable. One might say that his soft spoken voice and shy friendly manner come as somewhat of a welcome surprise.

The Discussion
 

You were born in Kyushu in the south of Japan where the people are supposed to be passionate, energetic and hard-working. Tell about your background.

I was born in Kyushu but I moved to Tokyo as early as possible. Tokyo is very much a part of who I am, but it is not the everyday Tokyo of tourists and salary-men, but more of an alternate Tokyo of the mind. A big influence on my early years was the manga and movie “Akira” which tells of Neo-Tokyo, a post apocalyptic megalopolis. It is this Tokyo which is MY Tokyo, it exists in my consciousness and in the consciousness of a whole generations who saw “Akira” , “Blade Runner” and “Mad Max”. It is a Tokyo shaped by Techno and Industrial Music and underground culture which exists right alongside the “normal” city and I was very much immersed in this kind of cyber-punk reality. My personal background is 100% based in the underground culture and I will always exist here in the Neo-Tokyo underground.

When I was younger and active in the underground rave scene, of course we experienced many problems with authorities, just as did the youth all across the world. Techno was like the second coming of the Punk revolution and a lot of people tried to crush our rebellion. We were doing a lot of experimentation and pushing against the limits of control. I guess this shaped my thinking also.

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Neo-Tokyo sounds like the “Interzone” concept of W.S. Burroughs. He once said that he wrote in order to create the world he wished to see exist. Is this why you design?

Well, Julius was born 7 years ago, we just celebrated the 7 year anniversary because 7 is a very special number for us, for many different esoteric reasons. However, to get the whole story about me and about Julius, you need to go way back to 1996, to my first clothing related project, NUKE. Its very much a part of our story and history, but because it was underground and because of language barriers etc. between East and West, people tend to think that Julius suddenly arrived in the last few years and compare us to some of the newer western brands, without knowing just how deep our roots go. I think this is a cause for a lot of confusion when people talk about who did what first, particularly regarding underground culture and the use of industrial motifs, but this was what NUKE was all about.

I was creating artworks immersed deep in the techno underworld. I was going out to these really intense clubs and doing graphics and visuals, graffiti etc. I was reading lots of Burroughs, William Gibson who was the father of cyberpunk, and the graphic work of Moebius and Enki Bilal which included steampunk touches. Eventually we got a lot of requests and decided to print some of the work onto t-shirts and thus Nuke was started in 1996.

Basically, all my work is trying to balance my darker interests; fetishism, Cyberpunk and industrial cultures with the lighter spiritual side of my creation – the Zen and Tibetan Buddhist influence in my work which has lately grown to include the spirituality of many different cultures. But these things all started with Nuke. For Nuke to become Julius was more of a name change, and a change of our company structure. In a way we stopped being a bad boy outfit and became a professional company, but we were and still are pure underground artists and this is never going to change no matter what happens. Even after debuting in Paris and going international I feel that we are closing the circle and I am returning back to my early roots.

 
In addition to the techno and punk influences, Julius famously seems to have very strong industrial and military references.

I have been talking about my very early influences and of course these still have a strong hold on me, but nowadays when I talk about “Industrial”, I am thinking more of people like Richard Serra who works with metals and steel to produce really industrial scale Art pieces. Its very uncompromising stuff and this is my attitude also. There are other visual artists who I talk about a lot when describing my work, like Joseph Beuys and Christian Boltanski who are not so much industrial but are very, very modern. And of course Anselm Kieffer who combines monumental work with an intensely personal spirituality. A balance I wish to achieve also.

The Military aspect is much easier to explain; it gave birth to an aesthetic of practical, functional and very cool minimal clothing which is a central part of what we do. Recently this has become our concept of clothing for urban SURVIVALISM. As times get harder and tougher , as we move further into a Neo-Tokyo type reality, we are creating clothes to deal with the new harsh conditions and to protect our inner sensitivity and spirituality.

In recent years the label has expanded quickly overseas, was this carefully planned or did it happen more on its own and were you happy with the expansion?

Well, I cannot say it was carefully planned because there is always an element of chaos in my work and process which keeps things exciting and fresh. I think this was more just inevitable! The truth is, I always designed with an international idea in my mind. These were not collections made just for Japanese or Asian people, these were expressions of the feeling I wanted to express at the time. As much as I am influenced by my background, I feel like a citizen of the planet and not limited to one cultural outlook or style. There were people around me who urged me to go to Paris, to show as many people as possible what we were actually doing here. They were worried that too many labels were beginning to make their names using some of our ideas and influences but this never really bothered me. People are telling me the same thing about showing our women’s wear again and this is something we are beginning to consider for the near future.

I am happy to reach as many sympathetic people as I can with what we are trying to do. This is the reason for having a runway show. However creating a show each season is difficult because it makes us part of the “fashion game” and we have to play by certain silly rules, some of which we do not particularly respect. In the end it is all worth it if we can make something beautiful and meaningful for the world.

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So it can be assumed that Paris hasn’t changed Julius?

No, not at all! Except I feel the pressure of always needing to show something “new”. To tell the truth the whole Paris fashion circus is totally not my style. My style is something I take over there, not from it. It does make me try harder to create a space between Julius and other labels. I am happy to try to create greater originality in my creative expression.

How are the Julius garments born?

My process stems from my youth as I have mentioned, everything is a continuation of that but recently my process begins when watching movies, listening to music while driving through the city, traveling and experiencing art. I get a lot of inspiration from the atmosphere of all these things. I try to imagine how certain things and places will look in the near future, the whole environment of these places. What kind of place will NYC be, how will Prague look? and then I guess I begin to sketch what I can imagine and this becomes the basis of the collection and thus reality. Just as Burroughs wrote what he wanted to see, I can design for my future reality. I can create Neo-Tokyo or NYC right here and now or at least in the next 6 months. I take these ideas and together with my team we make them a practical reality.

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I am not sure about other labels but as you can see we have been a very strong, close-knit team here that is capable of trying many new and unorthodox techniques in order to produce any effect we may desire. We try to experiment with new techniques and materials as much as possible and try to vary our approach as I definitely believe that no interesting result can come from boring, repetitive methods. We try to do as much as possible in-house and hands on, just like painters and sculptors in their studios. Most of our manufacturing is done here in Japan but we do sometimes outsource special fabrics to places like Italy, when it is absolutely necessary. We also make sample after sample and every member of staff gets to test out any item for practicality, durability and ease of use. If they do not like it, it does not get produced.

 
Recently there seems to have been a slew of similar “dark” labels and designers, some Japanese, some American and more recently some Europeans. One of the things that seem to unite them is the use of draping, something that until recently could usually be found mostly on women’s clothing.

As much as I try not to pay much attention to what others are doing, I think that there is indeed a fundamental difference and I think that is a very important one. As you mentioned “draping” comes from a classical, historic tradition and is usually associated with a feminine, elegant look. I think that this can be seen in the designs of most of the labels you are referring to. Julius does include design which could on first glance conform to this aesthetic. However, I think my design is coming from a very different place and I can sum it up in one word - damage.

When I create a painting, sculpture or item of clothing i am trying to externalize a feeling that I have inside of me and often what I feel inside are very mixed dark emotions; pain, frustration and anger at society. This comes out in the clothing as damage to the structure and to the fabric. I hate the image of conventional beauty and when I see something looking too perfect, I like to attack it and this results in what people see as drape, which is actually a dragging and distortion of the material upon the body of the wearer. The clothes actually have to be well made and high quality because of the punishment that they receive. When I style a photo shoot I really like to drag, twist and manipulate the clothes into new shapes and attitudes. Just like in people, I think that this distressing process is often the best way to expose the soul hidden beneath.

Tell a bit about GOTH_IK, the upcoming FW2010 collection.

The unusual spelling of the theme is very much intentional. Julius has often been compared with Gothic culture and I wanted to explore some of the connections between my design and that world in all its forms. I also wanted to perhaps rescue and rehabilitate the genre whose name seems to have become cheapened and misunderstood in recent times. This is not what people have come to assume from this word. This is MY own personal take on the subject.

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People tend to forget that gothic culture encompasses not only the music and an interest in the occult, but also architecture, art, literature and so on. I took time to rediscover these influences and try to juxtapose and combine gothic elements in terms of both the high and low-brow forms - the classical and the sub-cultural sides. So as well as clothing influenced by the eighties darker post-punk groups such as Bauhaus, I also want to combine this with the tailoring of a vampiric dandy and the draping and simplicity of a monk from that era. I want to take it into the abstract. I want to destroy the cliche and to redefine it. I want people to come and see our runway and have their assumptions and expectations challenged with a new perspective.

Epilogue

At this point, it was time for Horikawa to disappear back into the heart of his underground domain to oversee another of the countless projects which seem to constantly be revolving around him. Before he left, we pressed him on a story which sounded like shadowy legend in the face of the hard-edged industry of his (Neo-) Tokyo lair, and one which he had failed to mention when asked about his personal influences or background. A few seasons ago he had, uncharacteristically for a fashion designer, taken the step of posting a protest on the Julius website in solidarity with the people of Tibet in the face of the invasion by the Chinese authorities. When asked about this, he had mentioned a trip to Tibet and I was anxious to hear more details about this and how it had affected him if it was indeed true. Occupied Tibet seems like a long way from either Interzone or Neo-Tokyo for that matter.

At first reticent to go into details, Horikawa eventually revealed that the trip did indeed take place 3 years ago in 2006. He crossed over from China into Tibet in October of that year and then made his way by jeep to Lhasa. There, he spent over 2 weeks in a temple and befriended one of the monks who taught him, amongst other things, over 200 different ways to arrange the traditional Tibetan Buddhist robe (also the source of the Julius “blood” red color). It’s very obvious that he sees this trip as something of a spiritual pilgrimage, a word he often likes to use to describe his collections, and he mentions the fact that he felt closer to what he describes as the spirit of God than he had experienced until that point in his life. He also revealed that through a combination of travel and altitude sickness as well as frequent contact with Tibetan sake, he had ended up in the hospital and in an extremely dangerous state. It is quite obvious that this “secret” episode from the designers life is also one of the most important keys to it and one which explains just as much about what he is doing with his Art as did Beuys’ plane crash in the Crimea, Warhol’s childhood illness or Burrough’s shooting of his wife.

As our actual world and lives become more and more like Julius’ apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo / Interzone visions, one wonders where Horikawa will try to take us in the coming months and if he will ever truly find peace and the balance between the dark and light forces he continues to invoke and use in his creation.