Not only is he the pioneer of Japan’s streetwear scene, the founder of visvim, Head Porter, GoodEnough, Base Station and countless crossover collaborations, but Hiroshi Fujiwara plays a mean acoustic guitar!
It all started on Tuesday when I received an invitation in the mail to check out the F.I.L. (Free International Laboratory) store opening. Actually, the invitation was for two events, a reception at the store from six to eight, followed by a live performance at an outdoor venue from eight to eleven.
F.I.L. is the storefront face of the visvim brand. Visvim was founded by Hiroshi Fujiwara, often referred to as the father of Tokyo’s Harajuku streetwear scene. He’s a visionary in the production and marketing of streetwear and is a mentor to such notable figures as Nigo, the creator of A Bathing Ape. Visvim products are highly regarded for placing equal emphasis on comfort, quality, and design. Although sold in select stores outside of Japan, the Hong Kong shop is their first foreign retail venture.
The Hong Kong F.I.L. store is a collaboration with the I.T. Group, one of the top players in H.K.’s upscale clothing market. Collaborations like this, where a foreign brand has a local partner are a common practice here. In particular D-Mop (another high-end retailer,) and I.T. are the local partner for numerous international brands. Silly Thing, more of a specialty retailer (among other things,) has also adopted this approach.
The store with windows covered on the day before the opening:[photopress:FIL_visvim_PreLaunch.jpg,full,pp_image]
The F.I.L. store is located in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central neighborhood. Situated on number 18 Wyndham Street, it’s around the corner from D-Mop, Maison Martin Margiela, and a new Diesel shop. The store is also directly next to Sugar and Hei Hei – two mainstream clubs. M-88, the new building that houses Racks M.D.B. is right across the street. As far as foot traffic and exposure go, it’s in an excellent location.[photopress:FIL_store_crowd.jpg,full,pp_image]
I stopped by the F.I.L. reception at six-thirty. The narrow sidewalk outside the shop was crowded with press and onlookers. Stepping inside, the shop interior featured bare walls with a single rack of clothing on one side and a short shelf along the other wall on which shoes and a backpack were displayed. The checkout counter also housed jeans and several hats. What did it look like? Check out the photos and video![photopress:FILstore_Rack.jpg,full,pp_image]
The inventory on one side consisted of ten pairs of shoes (patent leather high-tops in navy blue, black, and white, hybrid moccasins in various colors, and checkered low-tops). On the opposite wall on the rack were a line of shirts with skull prints and several jackets.
The minimalist approach allows the clothing and accessories to standout more as components of the design, an approach that Benetton popularized in the mid 80’s.[photopress:visvim_shoe_lineup2.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:visvim_Blackpatentleather.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:VisvimMocs.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:Visvim_Shoes_HK.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:visvim_Navy_Blue.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:Visvim_Wht_patent_leather1.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:Visvim_Fresh_Out_the_box.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:Visvim_In_Box.jpg,full,pp_image]
Hong Kong actors Sam Lee and Shawn Yue, in addition to a handful of notable Japanese designers attended the shop reception. The gang from CLOT, who have been instrumental in bringing interesting new brands, musicians and artists to Hong Kong, were also in the house.
The venue for the live performance was a refreshing change. Instead of the usual cramped club, the party took place at an outdoor restaurant in the center of Hong Kong Park. (The park is surrounded by some of the city’s most recognizable skyscrapers including the iconic Bank of China designed by I.M. Pei.) The organizer took the weather gamble and won, as the day was perhaps the nicest of the year! The mostly outdoor venue had an excellent turnout including fashion / streetwear industry people from Japan, the U.S., and China.
The highlight of the party featured a live downtempo set performed by Hiroshi Fujiwara on lead guitar in addition to Hidefumi Ino and Daisuke Kojima. D.J. Shimoda from Silent Poets (who is also the man behind SOPH) spun before and after the live set.[photopress:FILparty_two_guitars.jpg,full,pp_image] [photopress:FILparty_Keyboard_Player.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:FILparty_DJ_Shimoda.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:FILparty_2nd_Guitar.jpg,full,pp_image]
The music was perhaps more mellow than the street-wear crowd is accustomed to at events, but the veterans gathered together for the night enjoyed the variation. Rather than fighting against the d.j. to have a conversation, it gave people the time to talk, chill and just enjoy the music.
The musical selections were impressive! The songs built around a similar vibe just as if an experienced d.j. were spinning them. The trio’s set included renditions of Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain”, Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” and The Beatles “Strawberry Fields.” But my favorite overall was the soulful instrumental version of “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers. Amazing!
Partygoers gathered under the tent to check out the performance:[photopress:FILparty_under_tent.jpg,full,pp_image][photopress:FILparty_Sign.jpg,full,pp_image]