AN INTERVIEW WITH SASQUATCHFABRIX'S DAISUKE YOKOYAMA
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.
SJ: What was the reason behind starting Sasquatchfabrix.?
DY: 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.
SJ: Was there a perspective to fashion you felt you could introduce?
DY: 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.
SJ: How does your educational background influence how you see fashion?
DY: 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.
SJ: Architecture seems to have a lot of intrinsic value to fashion designers, what do you think it is?
DY: 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.
SJ: How would you like the audience to interpret these installations?
DY: I’m making a narrative that people can pick at if they want, or can just take at face value. It also gives me a direction to work with when planning, making my collection coherent throughout. For each release to have substance, it’s very important to have a surface level design from a brand perspective that matches a deeper meaning that’s justifiable.
SJ: It goes without saying that you like putting installations together?
DY: Ha, I can’t just give someone a T-shirt – I would feel like I’m selling someone short. It needs to be a whole experience that ties back into the theme. I recently did a pop up in LA’s H. Lorenzo on an exclusive drop that was paired with the ‘COMPRESSION’ structure. The installation was themed around the sustained reaction between underclass utilitarianism interpreted through the lens of the upper class, and the inability of the working class to make progress when faced with repeated barriers. Yet, given the circumstances, this social group is able to discover despite adversity.
SJ: How were you able to deliver this sensibility in the installation?
DY: This push-and-pull feeling was conceived through pop-up where the store was split by strip curtains suspended from the ceiling. Entering a different arena, the audience was introduced to a dense tunnel made up of fifty 10’ x 10’ sheets of Mylar plastic suspended by 200 steel wires creating a frame. Entering the tunnel, participants push through the plastic and navigate forward before discovering the clothing rail at mid-point just as they’re caved in by plastic. This claustrophobic, suppressed feeling is what I’m trying to deliver with ‘COMPRESSION.’
SJ: Has each project been accompanied by a physical experience?
DY: In-store experiences, yes. E-commerce, harder as that follows a complete different rhythm but you can still use packaging to convey a theme. For those who weren’t able to attend the ‘ACADEMIA* CORRECTION WORKSHOP,’ the experience could still be shared via a notepad or branded pencil if you ordered online. These products carry the nuances of particular projects or collections.