The Japanese streetwear movement has been picking up momentum since the late 80s, and TOKKOU is a brand that has distinguished themselves from the crowd. The brands 'Special Attack Clothing' (a rough translation of tokkō-fuku, a Japanese term which inspired the brand's name) is heavily influenced by bōsōzoku, an 80s biker gangs' subculture. Masa, the founder of TOKKOU, has expressed his desire to keep the legacy of bōsōzoku alive through his designs. He has done so with the use of rebellious embroidered phrases and bold, contrasting colours. The brand is especially known for its famous, high-quality denim, handmade and sourced from the Okayama district in Japan. We have been friends of the brand for some time, and always wanted to share their story (and amazing items) with our community! To mark their arrival on our platform, we sat down with Hide (Head Designer) to learn about the brand, his journey in the fashion industry, and where he finds inspiration.
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
I was interested in fashion at a young age, around junior high school. I felt a mysterious power to change people's impression through fashion and clothing. I had this desire to change the lifestyle of various people with the clothes I designed. So, I studied design in university, and, after I graduated, I started my own brand, Hym, in Japan. I was then involved in various product development and became a designer of TOKKOU in 2019.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
It depends on my emotions at the time, but I am most inspired by music. As you can probably notice from my designs, I'm particularly influenced by rock and punk music from the 70s and 90s. Takahiro Miyashita, formerly a designer at Number(n)ine is also huge inspiration for me.
What is a typical Sunday night for you?
Eating a meal with my family while watching TV is the most relaxing time of my life.
How did you get started with TOKKOU?
It all started when Masa, the owner, invited him to join us. We used a lot of text and pictures, and it wasn't easy to find the right balance in clothes. I struggled to show a range of variations because too much monotony would bore customers. It was definitely a challenge trying to think of outside of the box designs while still remaining authentic to the brand’s identity. But I think we are doing good now. We are all thrilled with the evolution of this brand and keep looking forward to twhat the future of TOKKOU looks like.
What is the concept behind the brand?
I believe TOKKOU-fuku 特攻服 (Bosouzoku's uniform) and Sotsu-ran 卒ラン(Bosouzoku's Graduation Costume) are one of the Japanese sub-cultured symbols, which we should inherit in modern times. All the designs are created by adopting and combining letters and patterns from vintage TOKKOU-fuku and Sotsu-ran clothes. Through TOKKOU, the Japanese biker gang culture is being passed on. All the fabrics used in the collection, sewing and processing are made in Japan. It’s an exciting concept that we are doing, keeping this past culture alive.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love visiting a sewing factory or a textile factory, trying find a new technology or a discovery. I am always fascinated by imagining how to incorporate it into designs. And I love to see the process of making it happen.
Who do you design for? Who is your customer?
The target audience is men and women in their 30s to 40s who live abroad and love Japanese culture. We are certainly trying to expand our Japanese garments and culture to an international field.
Can you share more about the production aspects?
When I'm working on a piece, I always start with choosing the fabric. As I mentioned before, the fabric-choosing process is so exciting to me. Then I decide on the design and pattern that best suits the characteristics of the material before sewing.
What is your vision for the future of the brand?
One of TOKKOU's unique selling points is the quality of the made-in-Japan production. I am also focusing on the beauty of Japanese text design over the fabrics. There are some aggressive Japanese expressions that we adore. Still, there are also sentences of gratitude and motivational speech. I want people to know and feel the Japanese sub-culture through TOKKOU.
We have always drawn inspiration from Japanese culture and aesthetics, and TOKKOU is a great representation of these features. All the products in their latest collection are really distinct and made to the highest quality. You can shop TOKKOU's unique designs here.
By Juliette Eleuterio