Why did you decide on “Umbrella” as a brand name and what kind of meaning does it have? Is it because you’re also nicknamed the “rain man”?
The meaning behind the name is “the existence of protecting ourselves from something cold”, although being “rain man” is also part of the reason.
From music to visual designs, what inspired these images and concepts that you are currently working on in Umbrella?
My inspirations come from sceneries, art, videos…everything I see with my own eyes. Since the view through my own eyes is completely different than the view through the lens of a camera, new inspirations are born from capturing the scene in photographs.
Did you ever expect UMBRELLA to have taken off in the directions that it have?
There were more hardships than I had imagined when I first got started, but I guess right now I’m kinda walking one step behind my original plans.
Based on your current collection, everything is very comfortable for all sorts of people; is there a certain type of clientele you want to represent your brand? Is that how you would like to be perceived yourself?
The underlying concept of the products made in UMBRELLA is based on feelings of desire such as “If only I have something like this~” or “I want to see scenery like this”, so I’ve never thought about clientele or having a certain image. I’m just really happy if there are people who feel that they can relate to the images I create.
You’re very active on Twitter, do you feel that social media allows you to be closer to your fans? How does it affect you now that you’re able to see the affect of your work among your fans?
Indeed, I feel like I’m closer to fans thanks to the widespread use of social media. While it’s a good thing to be able to hear feedbacks directly, it’s not like I’ve ever really changed my style just because something was poorly received.
Although a majority of your work is now online, you still do store appearances, does this give you any different motivations?
It’s a fun place for me to directly converse with my customers and physically hold the items and show them. I also think it’s the best place be judged as a designer.
You have worked with many different artists in regards to their merch, including PIERROT, D’ERLANGER, LM.C, ALvino, defspiral, and REDRUM; how do you approach each design process for the bands?
When I custom-make goods for bands, while they are my own creations, ultimately, they’re images for the band; as such, I try to put in new elements in my style to add to the band’s existing image. During the creative process, it’s fun when keywords besides my own imagery come into play.
With your photography, you have gone over great distance and quite a few adventures (according to your Twitter) for your photography. What was in those moments that made you wanted to immortalize them in a photo forever? We’d like to hear any interesting stories you’ve had on your trips, too.
The moment that makes me want to immortalize an image is simply the moment I think something is “wonderful”. I’ve [gone] to many different places to collect photographic materials or to shoot some of my work, and I think both the advantage and disadvantage of a photo is that it’s something you can capture only at that very moment. In reality, things you saw with your eyes flow with time and thus, it’s not the same scenery even if you capture it on camera. However, that photo should be able to make us recall the flow of time; and I consider that part of photography my current challenge.
As for interesting stories, there were quite a few times I went out to take shots without researching much beforehand and ended up doing nothing even though I already went there. lol.
Most of your work consists of bilateral symmetry, is there a reason that this kind of design appeals to you?
I haven’t really thought about it in particular, but there are asymmetrical stuff everywhere so in a rebellious sense, symmetry is cool too!…I suppose that’s what I wanted to say? lol
Your newest collection of Rain Café, was it created out of your interest in different coffee? If you had an actual Rain Café, how do you imagine the theme would be like?
As the name suggests, I guess it’d be a cafe that goes well with rain. And maybe it’d be full only when it’s rainy or something. lol
What other areas of fashion and design appeal to you?
For fashion, rather than “loose”, I guess I like “firm” better? Things like riders jackets, etc.
As for design, I like my own creations.
What are some goals you have for 2015?
Up until now, I’ve mostly came up with ideas by myself so I want to try creating things by collaborating with many different people. People from overseas have senses different than those of Japanese people so I’d like to have a chance to work with someone like that. For 2015, I’d like to amplify and expand my work in many directions.
Translation by: Jin [check his Facebook here]
Special thanks to Hizumi for taking the time to speak with us!