Bedwin & The Heartbreakers are of those brands you always wish you knew more about. With a shape-shifting approach to clothing, they blend influences as seamlessly as Colonel Sanders blended herbs and spices. We caught up with Masafumi Watanabe, founder of Bedwin, to pick his brain about the Internet changing people’s approach to style, Savile Row tailors and brand collaborations. Take a leap to read his answers.
Has the Internet changed how style is consumed in Japan and, if so, has that affected how you approach Bedwin & The Heartbreakers?
The Internet enables us to access images and get inspired, whether it’s from an old picture, find on a music-related website or a street snap from a fashion blog. That being said, especially here in Japan, print publications and brick-and-mortar stores are still playing a major role in the fashion industry. Our relationship with stores and magazines are still very strong domestically. Our online presence is actually more visible overseas.
You’ve said before that vintage is a source of inspiration. How do you ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of being a vintage reproduction company?
I believe we managed with Bedwin & The Heartbreakers to create a strong aesthetic over the last decade. It’s always a challenge to find the right balance between bringing new elements to the collection and staying true to what the Bedwin man is. I think we are doing a good job by twisting the vintage pieces we find along the way with our own philosophy.
Were there any Savile Row tailors you were specifically inspired by?
I wasn’t specifically inspired by any Savile Row tailors. But I was inspired by the atmosphere of the street itself. One of the most historical and fashionable streets I’ve ever been. I would love to make my own suit at Nutters of Savile Row like The Beatles on the album “Abbey Road” or Gieves & Hawkes to really feel the roots of men’s tailoring.
Every collaboration is different. We try to utilize each other’s talent and forte on both a creative and technical level. The BBU collaboration with retailers Beauty & Youth and Undefeated was a unique and interesting experience. Having a retailer’s perspective for this kind of capsule collection always helps push boundaries.
How do you choose what brands to work with?
I’m quite proactive and usually approach brands that I like and think will be a good match for us to create a product together. I like to collaborate with brands with a strong identity. The creative process aims to bridge the gap between our two philosophies, which usually results in something unexpected. Our ongoing Dickies preppy meets workwear collaboration is a good example of that.
Do you feel you’re part of a movement or is that impossible to tell while you’re in it?
It’s not something I ask myself, to be honest. I try to be the best at what I do. There is few groups of designers in Japan that you can categorize by generation or by the way they are inspired by similar cultures, but I don’t think it’s a movement per se. Maybe our friends in Europe and the US have a different perspective on it, that would be interesting to ask them.
Why is it important to have your own online store?
Your online store is your window to the world. I always value physical and human interactions over virtual exchanges. That being said, I’m sure there is a way to mix both. Using our online store to create a global community around our brand and eventually bring all of our followers into a physical space where we could all meet and exchange is our goal and main challenge for the next few years.
Plans for the future?
Keep exploring and mixing international influences with my own Japanese culture. Still so many places I have yet to visit, people I have yet to meet. I just need to keep doing what I do and see where my work will take me next.
Bedwintokyo.com Photography: Ivan Oglivie/Selectism.com