Foreword, or “Why am I doing this?”
I feel like I mention this constantly, but just in case; while in grad school, many of my large research projects were centered on alternative fashion magazines. A big reason for this is the only piece of good advice I got from a former advisor amounted to something like “Working with media is far easier than working with people.” In other words, it’s a lot easier to buy back issues of a magazine, or in her case, record a television drama, than to schedule and conduct interviews with other human beings.
Being out of academia for many years now, I don’t have a professional interest in continuing my magazine research. Or do I? There’s always been a good number of people in the J-fashion community interested in archiving records of the scene – Lolibrary is one of many testaments to that fact. And while I have no interest in charging up front for this sort of thing, I know that there is definitely a ‘market’ for it, to speak in capitalistic terms.
But of course the possibility of making the number go up on my Ko-fi page isn’t actually the key reason I’ve decided to take up publishing old interviews and what not from J-fashion publications. No, the truth is…
I really despise machine translation
I’ve noticed that a lot of people doing the work currently rely on automated tools, such as character recognition and machine translation, to put stuff out in English. That’s very understandable, given not everyone spent years of their life learning Japanese. But this approach results in a number of problems that this anthropological linguist won’t bore you with here. (If anyone is interested in an in-depth discussion, let me know!) In any case, you can rest assured that all the articles published here have been transcribed and translated by yours truly, unless otherwise specified.
Gothic Lolita & Punk Brand Book
For context, the following interview is part of a larger article in the June 2005 edition of the ゴシック・ロリータ＆パンク ブランドBOOK, which were put out as supplementary issues of short-lived J-fashion publication ROCOCO.
The slate of designers includes
- Inoue Maiko of PEACE NOW,
- LIEN of LIENS,
- Uehara Kumiko of Baby, The Stars Shine Bright,
- Hasegawa Shunsuke of PUTUMAYO,
- Kato Kuniko of Metamorphose Temps de Fille,
- KENZO-A of STIGMATA by SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON, and
- “Kurotama” and “Kuroneko” of MAXICIMAM
(The latter, by the way, are pictured as two black cats, spooning atop a floral print blanket.)
I decided to translate these interviews after a request from Raine Dragon to translate a different interview in another Gothic Lolita & Punk Brand book, which will make its way here eventually. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a resource Raine Dragon’s blog and photo archive are – please check them out if you’re interested in this kind of thing! I am grateful to be able to use her scans of both the issue cover and the article itself, even though I do own the original issue this is from. (Scanning is a struggle.)
The following is my translation of the interview with Hasegawa Shunsuke, the designer for brand PUTUMAYO. Some notes:
- This isn’t a professional translation, and I know most of you are familiar with a little Japanese. Therefore, I’ve taken some shortcuts here and there.
- The interviewer kinda sucks. Well, no, that’s not fair. Both the interviewer and the editor kinda suck. There’s an abundance of repetitive backchanneling and（笑）all over that I struggled to replicate in a way that was true to the source material but also wasn’t grating.
- As you may have already noticed, I default to writing Japanese names in their native order, ie. ‘Family Given’. In terms of transliteration, I use modified Hepburn except if there is an ‘official’ version I know about. (Example: Kato Kuniko understandably never appears as Katou)
Hasegawa Shunsuke of PUTUMAYO
To me, the work of design can be thought of as one method of personal expression
I want to continue to be true to myself
Putumayo, said to be a popular “lovely punk” brand. You could say the key to their success is the cute, but also somehow devilish impression given by their clothes. Speaking of which, we’ll be asking popular designer Hasegawa-san, who creates these popular items, a few questions. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu. -Yoroshiku onegai shimasu So, I know it’s sudden but, what led to you becoming a designer? -It’s a long story, haha, in my second year of high school I thought I wanted to work in the creative industry, and I joined the art club I see. -There I studied the basics of design, and decided to apply to art school (university). And well, while I did get in without any trouble, I majored in graphic design. So then you had to switch your methods from 2D to 3D? -I’d say instead that, as long as I could accomplish what I was thinking of, the method didn’t matter. You prioritized just being able to express yourself, then? -Yes, that’s right. So after that, you became Putumayo’s designer but, what would you say is the concept behind your designs? -Hmm...my personal motto is to try to make something that will make people happy, and the brand concept is to make everyday clothes with a gothic lolita feeling. So then, what is the inspiration for your designs? -Let’s see. From the start, I always really liked stuff like monsters and toys, haha. The inspiration for the characters I design, that’s where it’s probably coming from. Don’t you collect toys as a hobby? -Yes, I do. Lately I’ve been collecting Gremlins toys. Along that note, who are your favorite artists, designers, or as you mentioned, people who’ve created distinctive characters? -Like H.R. Giger or Fujiko Fujio A-san, also Walt Disney and Tim Burton I really like a lot. I’m nodding in agreement, haha -Yeah, haha Last question, if you could tell us about what you want to make going forward, as well as your goals for the future. -In any case, I want to keep on making a lot of items that will make everyone happy. Then, in terms of future goals...well, it would be good if I could always remain true to myself! I see. Thank you very much. -You’re welcome!
That concludes this particular interview – I’ll be publishing the other two I’ve already finished (Na+H and Kato Kuniko’s) in the next month or so. Have an old J-fashion magazine article you’re dying to have translated? Let me know! It may end up at the end of my to-do list, but generally these articles tend to be short enough that they aren’t too much hassle.