There is an address stamped on the tag of every N. Hoolywood item, which, when entered in Google Maps, takes you to a residential street in Los Angeles. It points to an actual existing home that Daisuke Obana, the brand's founder and designer, used to own (we won't list the address here to respect the privacy of its current occupant). The residence, located in North Hollywood, inspired the name of his brand; it's where he used to store his beloved vintage finds and stay every time he took inspiration trips in the States. "America is my dream country," the designer tells me when we meet at his New York showroom after his Men's Fashion Week show.
He chose New York Fashion Week over that of other cities to showcase his collections precisely because of his love of America. After years of showing in Tokyo Fashion Week, he wanted change: "The same Japanese editors were just saying the same things, always complimenting me. I wanted different comments and judgements," he says. As an ardent fan of N. Hoolywood, this was no surprise to me -- Obana's fondness toward American history and fashion is widely known and well reflected in his designs. He is now a veteran name in New York's menswear scene, always delivering one of the most memorable and prestigious shows season after season.
Over the course of our conversation, however, it was clear that there is much more to be discovered about Obana. Who knew, for example, that he is also a passionate reviewer of hot springs? Or that he gave up on Chemex coffee? Read on to find out more facts about Obana that you probably didn't know before -- they will surprise you.
1. He has been to approximately 800 to 900 hot springs, so far.
Mr. Obana's obsession with hot springs led him to start his own magazine column in which he professionally reviews them. He's had a column for "Uomo" for the past two years, detailing his bath experience at a new place every month. He estimates that he's been to a total of 800 to 900 of them so far, across five to six countries like Taiwan and the US besides his homeland, Japan. His most memorable hot spring is a Native American-run natural spring located between San Diego and Baja California which his cousin introduced him to. Unfortunately, the place is so small that it doesn't even have a name. (Bonus fact: He also brings an N. Hoolywood x Hippopotamus Towel everywhere he goes in case he discovers a new hot spring.) (Image source: "Uomo" August 2015 issue)
2. He cannot wear anything but t-shirts.
"I stopped wearing button-ups two years ago. [I only] wear t-shirts or sweatshirts," the designer confesses. It's because he wants to be comfortable, which makes sense, but we wonder if that also means he never wears his own kick-ass designs that aren't t-shirts.
At the time of our meeting, he's sporting a black t-shirt with simple white text that reads, "the newly," the name of the rooftop gallery situated in N. Hoolywood's new Osaka store.
3. He rests his sunglasses on the backside of his collar.
"This is 1990s Japan style," according to Obana.
4. He gave up on Chemex.
There was a time when Obana appreciated the complexity and level of effort put into certain processes. One such example is making hand-poured coffee with the Chemex, which he used to do every day until he swapped to a Nespresso machine. "Nespresso is more comfortable, although it's expensive per cartridge." Overall, he now just takes pleasure in things he "can use easily to do other things easily," just like wearing a comfortable t-shirt.
5. His 1988 T3 Volkswagen trailer is his second office.
Mister Hollywood does not use his vintage VW van as a van. "When people at my office are looking for me, they say, 'Oh, he's probably in his Volkswagen.'" Instead of a vehicle, Obana uses his beloved 1988 T3 as his second office, sometimes sketching or even taking naps in it.
6. His favorite vintage shops in New York are...
Stock Vintage and Front General Store. While the former is more well-known and widely respected, especially within the menswear community, the latter is not and relatively new in the New York vintage world. But Mr. Obana still knew of Front General Store, naming its owner, Hiro-san, as a longtime friend of 10 years from Fukushima. He cites Front General as one of the best vintage shops in New York, so we'll bring you a closer look inside as soon as we can.