CREEP, founded in Japan in 1997 has managed to successfully distribute its collection in such retail spots as Patricia Field, Scout LA and NYPull. In 2008, Hiroshi Awai took the reigns as men's creative director, based out of his hometown of Toronto, Canada. With a hybrid of design elements containing both Japanese design technique and the functionality of American workwear, Awai has created a line of desireable menswear. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the creative director himself to see what went into creatiing his latest collections. (YB)
Photo Credit: Sophie Awai
Name: Hiroshi Awai
Occupation: Men's Designer
Location: Toronto, Canada
Give us a little run down. Who are you? And what do you do?
My name is Hiroshi Awai. I'm 32 years old. I work for the Japanese clothing company Creep as a men's designer. Creep is my brother's clothing company which he runs in Japan. I joined the company in 2005 as a production manager and in 2008, he assigned me to head up an exclusive men's clothing line out of Toronto, Canada(where I currently live). This collection(Spring/Summer 09) is my first time designing a collection.
I read that you are planning on taking the line in a new direction by incorporating innovative Japanese design. What elements are you going to include?
Well, I love the simplicity and rawness of traditional American workwear and it was definitely the biggest part of my design inspiration. I wanted to somehow combine it with modern elements without loosing the "old feel". So in Spring/Summer 09, basically I tried to design the garments as simple/wearable as possible, and I added some edgy details or a little twist to them. For example, a simple single breasted trench coat with extremely "puckered" seam, a simple pin striped shirt but the stripe is shifted in the middle of the shirt, or a preppy oxford shirt with sailor collar, etc...
What materials were used in your latest collection?
I mainly used linen/cotton blend for this season. Then I also gave the fabric "creased effect" to give the texture to it. Using linen was the key to having an old look.
Based in Toronto - what aspects of Toronto culture are incorporated into your line?
Not necessarily just Toronto culture, but definitely North American culture has influenced me ever since I moved here. I moved to Toronto when I was 24 and before then, I was living in Japan since I was born. I only started to understand the beauty of traditional American workwear after a few years of living here and as I begun to understand North American culture/history, my fascination for traditional American workwear has really expanded. So I think everything I've seen, heard or felt in the past 8 years of living here is all incorporated into my collection.
How did you get your foundation in the fashion industry?
My father worked for a women's clothing line for over 40 years. So I have always been around the fashion industry ever since I was little. I didn't go to school for fashion. But I learned most of the things from doing production management for our company which involves sourcing fabrics for our clients, understanding spec sheets, and working with manufacturer. However, I would love to go to school to learn about pattern drafting.
What should every man have in their closet?
I don't know... Converse Chuck Taylor?
Your personal style would be defined as.....?
color(playing with color). I like having one funky color in a basic look.
What brands are you into these days?
RRL(double RL by Ralph Lauren), Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers
In 5 years - what direction do you see CREEP going in?
Creep men's line is a brand new line. So there aren't too many people who knows about our line yet. So first I need to let people know what Creep is about. This could take some time. I'm hoping that in 5 years, our clothing would be available in at least major cities. It would be nice if we could open a Creep flagship store in NY or Paris in 5 years.
Any plans to expand to accessories etc....?
No... I mean not for now. I still have more to learn about clothing and our clothing line needs to become more solid collection before I do anything else.
How would you describe the CREEP male?
Comfortable with themselves, but not cocky...
This season's must have items include.....?
Canvas slip-on from Muji
What inspires you?
music, movies, past, people,
Next steps for CREEP?
Finding the showrooms in NY and LA who can help me representing our line!