THE ART OF JAPANWe talk to BEAMS creative supervisor Makoto Toda about the world's obsession with Japanese products

Scroll Down

It's official, the world cannot get enough of all things Japanese. From the food and drink, to the culture and the craftsmanship, there is a quality that's instantly recognisable when you look at all things Japan made. But where does this obsession come from? We sat down with BEAMS' creative supervisor Makoto Toda to find out more. Toda has been a mainstay at BEAMS for 18 years, first starting as a shop assistant before becoming a buyer. “That led me to believe that my job is to promote and push BEAMS and what Japan can offer to overseas, so that is where I am at right now.” Toda says working for BEAMS was thanks to her father's influence, “He was moving around Japan from place to place for his job as an architect. That had a huge impact on me, flipping through many beautiful architectural books that my father owned; not only architectures, but I got slowly interested in clothing and furniture. This led me to start working for BEAMS as they were the frontiers who were pushing to introduce all the lifestyle solution and product to customers in the market.”

How did you decide what products to select for the pop-up, what was the criteria for the products?
I believe what Japan offers the most in terms of design and production would be in the areas of fabric and treatment development and attention to details, when it comes to sewing. The product that will sit at the Harvey Nichols Project 109 space will boast all those backgrounds in addition to artisanal lifestyle craftsman product sourced nationwide. Japan has developed its own unique path in terms of fashion development, which leads us to offer a well-balanced style with an originality – you can see that in our BEAMS private collection. All of the products have their own stories to tell, and hopefully they will resonate with the lifestyles of British people.

What did you enjoy the most about creating the selection for Harvey Nichols?
Catering for a new market with different tastes was very challenging, but at the same time it was a rewarding experience. My understanding about the Harvey Nichols customer is that they’re incredibly style-savvy and design forward, and this is the type of shopper we’re accustomed to at BEAMS: they’re into specific styles and lifestyle trends, so this made things a lot easier for me in the selection process. Personally, I cannot wait to see how the products will be received by the customers at Harvey Nichols. It’s an amazing opportunity and experience for us to showcase a wide range of items, not only clothing but also different elements of lifestyle products on this scale.

What are some of your favourite brands and products in the edit?

Buzz Rickson, Tailor Too and Sun Surf by TOYO ENTERPRISE COMPANY are all of the highest quality with rich histories. We’ve been working with them for a long time, collaborating with them over the years. In terms of lifestyle products, our in-house section “fennica”s offers a great range of excellent product sourced throughout Japan, especially ceramics and the Kokeshi doll. Also, our special collaboration with ARC’TERYX. The product epitomises our expertise in the collaboration – the outdoor garment is the must-have piece in Japanese fashion in terms of daily styling.

What makes this pop-up different compared to previous collaborations?

We have done a couple of pop-ups overseas before, however it’s a first on this scale in terms of how eclectic the product mix is. I believe that this pop-up represents what Tokyo offers in terms of fashion and lifestyle. Over the past few years, we have done a few pop-ups in Paris and Vancouver, and last year we had our 40th anniversary book “BEAMS beyond Tokyo” published by Rizzoli, so we were quite actively engaged in the overseas market. However, this time around, we will have some workshops taking place during the pop-up, so it’s very exciting to see how the Harvey Nichols customers react to those initiatives.

What links do you see between the Japanese and British menswear markets?
We both pay respect to our roots and history with adventurous and open minds. Perhaps because we’re islanders Britain has roots and influences in creating pivotal sub-cultures over the years and Japan has developed its own aesthetics and culture. We both have never looked lightly upon our originality and roots, keeping and updating them accordingly to the time.

How would you summarise Japan’s design?
All designs exist for a reason and story.

Who is the BEAMS customer?
Our BEAMS customers are often the ones who have their own style aesthetics with a playful minds. They don’t want to be the same as the others but want to stay different and original to themselves.

What makes Harvey Nichols a great partner for BEAMS?

What we ask for from all partners is to understand each other’s strengths to nurture a mutual understanding, and to trust one another. A common sense of creativity and flexibility is a must. With that common ground, the whole process of putting this initiative together came very naturally to us. Hopefully it’s just the beginning of our collaborations with Harvey Nichols.

What makes this pop-up different compared to previous collaborations?

We have done a couple of pop-ups overseas before, however it’s a first on this scale in terms of how eclectic the product mix is. I believe that this pop-up represents what Tokyo offers in terms of fashion and lifestyle. Over the past few years, we have done a few pop-ups in Paris andVancouver, and last year we had our 40th anniversary book “BEAMS beyond Tokyo” published by Rizzoli, so we were quite actively engaged in the overseas market. However,this time around, we will have some workshop taking place during the pop-up, so it’s very exciting to see how the Harvey Nichols customers react to those initiatives.