NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS - MWJ MEETS NINCOMPOOP CAPACITY

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21st November 2010, 10:55pm - Views: 976

While I was in Japan this fall, I met with Japanese designers and other cool people who have influence on youth-culture of Japan today. I interviewed these people with the goal to introduce their work while at the same time, to get a more personal view of them as individuals. I also asked them to share their thoughts on various topics about Japan. My heart was filled with appreciation as these people were kind enough to take time out of their super busy schedules to make it happen.



The first people I met was Hashio and Take from Nincompoop Capacity. Nincompoop Capacity is a underground U.K. punk influenced fashion brand from Tokyo, with their original store in Koenji and their newer second store in the backstreets of Harajuku. Nincompoop design and make the clothing for their brand themselves and sell a wide range of original, one-off remakes, and vintage clothing.



MADE WITH JAPAN: INTERVIEW WITH NINCOMPOOP CAPACITY



Place: Nincompoop Capacity Harajuku

A: Interviewer Allan from Made with Japan

H: Interviewee Hashio from Nincompoop Capacity



A: Lets start off hearing about when started your brand Nincompoop Capacity?



H: Um, I started the store when I was 24 years old, but I had started the brand before that. That was around 4 years ago after I graduated from school at the age of 22.



A: What were the beginnings of Nincompoop Capacity like and what motivated you to get started?



H: The store, we started on impulse kind of. We were like, maybe we should start a shop. The brand started on a natural ebb and flow. I was always making clothes and I felt I should come up with a name. That was when Take, came down to Tokyo so I asked him if he would be interested in making Nincompoop Capacity together.



A: So you were making the clothes you felt like creating, just without a brand name.



H: It wasnt like I was making clothes for anyone to sell at the time. I mainly started by creating remake clothing for myself to wear. But I felt I want to make this my full time job, so I started Nincompoop Capacity.



A: Okay, how did you guys come up with the name Nincompoop Capacity?



H: I wanted a name that was a little different. But Im not good with stuff like that, so I was using a dictionary on my cell phone browsing through words. Ive always like the letter P so I started looking for a word with a lot of Ps. When I came across the word nincompoop, I was excited because there were a lot of ps in it. (laughs) Then the word even had a playful nuance of stupidity to it which I liked. And the word capacity, I simply liked and wanted in the brand name. Put the two together and it sounded cool so I went with it. Dont you think P is cool? Im not sure how it sounds to English speaking people though...



A: Weeeeell. I thought it was a very strange name. (laughs)



H: When foreigners come to my store its definitely because of the name. Theyre like, what is this? it says Nincompoop Capacity on the sign and laughs.



A: Do you get a lot of customers from abroad?



H: Yeah, especially for our store in Koenji.



A: Really? Are there a lot of foreigners in that area?



H: Im not sure why, but I think Koenji has become a quite popular tourist spot.



A: What kind of stuff do they often buy?



H: Remakes and some of our original wear as well.



A: So, are you guys thinking about marketing to international markets?



H: Right now we arent. But I want to try if its possible though.



A: Im sure the fashion taste of foreigners and body build must be very different from Japanese. Do you ever feel that is an barrier for your brand?



H: Yeah. There are definitely more taller and bigger people compared to Japanese. I never really thought about it, but Its made me realize how much more my clothes suites Japanese people.



A: Nincompoop Capacity does remakes, your original line, and some vintage too right? Can you show me some of your clothes?



H: Yeah, were a mix of one-off remakes, original and vintage clothing. These are remakes, This one too.



H: Stuff like this we sew ourselves from scratch.



A: I only see one of these. Do you make only one piece of your original line?



H: No no, we make them in different sized and colors as well.



A: When I looked at pictures of the Koenji store, there just seemed to be a lot more stuff in general.



H: Yup. Youre right. Right now the Koenji store carries mostly used and vintage clothing with some of our original stuff as well.



A: Oh! This one. I really like this series.



H: This is something we started recently.



A: How is this made? (pointing at a pair of sneakers with metal plate attachments)



H: I used some of the parts that were leftover from when we were building this store. (laughs)



A: Cooool. Do you have any personal favorites? Or something you feel that represents Nincompoop Capacity?



H: I would say our setups. The setups that match bottom and top might be what were most well known for. Weve been making these every year. We make them from all kinds of material too for example bedsheets.



A: Yeah, I saw the ones with bold stripes and neon colored ones too!



A: U~m. Can you share with us about the shops and brands concept and your philosophy for designing clothes?



H: Basically, our original stuff we make so that pretty much anyone can wear. Guys and girls, tall or short, fat or skinny. We put a lot of thought into designing cuts so when anyone wears it, they would feel its a good fit. We use stretchy material sometimes, which helps.



A: So to you its not only about the style, but you put practicality into the equation as well.



H: Yeah, we wrap our minds around a lot of factors like that. Also comfortability is important too. As for the remakes, we try to make stuff that no one can copy. Until recently, we werent doing remakes because in Japan, there are a lot of people doing it. They look at a finished remake and think oh, I can do this too and I didnt like that. But I recently thought thats okay. If someone wants to copy, let them copy but as long as we were the first ones to do it. Now, I just think that the important thing is to continue doing it and let people know that were the ones creating our clothing. So getting over that hump has expanded our horizons a bit.



A: It is difficult to be happy about being copied, however it is a form of flattery, a sign that people look up to you guys. I get the impression from both your remakes and originals, that Nincompoop Capacity has fun experimenting with many unique styles and material. Theres definitely a strong D.I.Y. and free spirit image from what I gather.



A: If you were to categorize Nincompoop Capacity, where would you be?



H: For the most part, I think that were just casual but there is a punk element in our heart and spirit. There is a lot we rebel against. Im also not good at socializing and Im the type of person that dislikes things quickly. At the same time, I easily think that were the best too. (laughs) In that sense, I guess were sort of punk.



A: Are there any strong influences to you and Nincompoop Capacity? Like music or people.



H: There arent too many things I feel that Ive been influenced by. But Hiroshi Fujiwara the founder of Head Porter would be one. Hes a famous Japanese fashion icon from a long time ago. Hmmm (trying to think of anyone else) Yeah, thats the one person that has influenced me. Was because of him that I wanted to come out to Harajuku. He was doing a lot of cool stuff when he was around my age. Thats about it for people. But ofcourse I am constantly being influenced by my partner Take and also Cathy (nickname) who is mostly at the Koenji shop. We all have different interests so we each bring something different to the plate.



A: How do you guys unify the differences between your members?



H: That, we dont have to. We each do what we want to and that becomes Nincompoop Capacity.



H: . . . There are many things that I do not understand and disagree with lately.



A: Like what?



H: Like, its no fun because I feel like the gap between fast fashion and vintage clothing shops or brands like us has become too far apart. The shoppers too ofcourse. There are so many different kinds of stores in Harajuku. There arent too many places in the world like this I think. So for the people that like underground fashion, if youre going to come out to Harajuku, why not take a look at Forever 21 for example. Or for the people that usually shop only at at Forever, why not explore whats going on in the little back streets of Harajuku?



A: People are becoming narrow-minded?



H: Yeah.



A: What shops or people do you think are big influences on youth culture in Tokyo right now?



H: When you look at it as a total, the fast fashion giants are definitely a big influence especially with the economic recession playing a large role in customers purchases. But in our circle of underground fashion, theres a store named Dog and I think they influence youth culture. Theres one in Harajuku as well as Koenji.



A: So even during tough times like this, underground fashions foundation is still strong?



H: Yees, or at least thats what I would like to believe. The scene has shrunk compared to before though. When I first came to Tokyo 6 to 7 years ago, there were more people looking. People were looking for their own store. I dont see that as much anymore. Dog was very popular from back then, and they are still going strong.



A: And ofcourse Nincompoop right?!



H: Hahaha. Maybe from now.



A: Have you consciously tried to observe Japan or compare with other cultures?



H: To be honest no, but I really like Japan. Not really Japan, but Tokyo. Ill probably never go back to Hokkaido prefecture where Im originally from. Yeah. I probably love Tokyo so much that many things irritate me. Recently, its not clothing but politicians and the government.



A&H: Hahahaha



H: Ive never been interested in these topics before. But I started to from about a year ago.



A: Do you put emotions like this to work with your brand?



H: We like clothes. So everything for us transfers over to clothing. Whether were doing so consciously or unconsciously, I think it shows.



A: Cool. So what are some things you like about Japan?



H: Things I like about Japan Hmmmm. Hehehe. The food is great.



A: Thats for sure.



H: Not only Japanese food but you can eat food from many different countries. Also I think Japan is a very safe and peaceful country, everyone is kind, everyone speaks Japanese. Television shows are fun to watch.



A: For sure again to all of that! Im always sad that I cant turn on the TV to watch all the fun Japanese shows when Im in the U.S..So it seems like you know the good things about Japan even though youve never been to other countries to compare.



A:What about some things you dont like about Japan?



H: Um, maybe the fact that everything costs money. For example, there are public restrooms in Shinjuku that ask you to put money in Or it costs money to make a identification card even though were paying taxes. Everywhere you go, money money money.



A: I didnt know about that. Japanese government, please try harder when using our tax money!



If you live in the Tokyo area or visiting, please go see Hashio, Take, and their cute little dog (he makes a couple appearances in the photos) at one of their stores and buy some Nincompoop Capacity. Thank you Hashio and Take!



About The Author: We are a collective trying to bridge the gap between Japanese culture and the rest of the world through fashion, art, and design. We have a bilingual blog section where I posted this in depth interview of a popular underground street fashion brand, Nincompoop Capacity. Made With Japan.

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