Yet another interview from the Gothic Lolita Punk brand book, with a catch – Haraguchi isn’t the designer! So I guess I have to rename this whole series.
This was actually the first interview I translated, on a request from Raine Dragon, that started this whole project. I felt bad for not uploading it earlier – after, it’s pretty much a copy paste job at this point. But as is often the case with things I procrastinate working on, once I did finally attempt to make this post, I came across A Big Problem: Imagery.
More specifically, Na+H seems to be kind of a faceless brand. They do have an active Instagram, but it reads as more of a clothes catalog more than anything else. Of course, I could use the photos from the original article that were provided to me, but even those are fairly sparse, with a total of zero (0) human beings featured in frame.
No people, only clothes for people
This shouldn’t surprise me – as mentioned at the beginning of this post, this interview was not conducted with the brand’s designer, but rather Haraguchi, who I’ll call the ‘manager’ of Na+H (pronounced “N A plus H”). They started the brand after “falling in love” with the designer, who is confusingly referred to once in the byline as “H” and never again.
Another person-less photo
Anyways, enough excuses. For followers of this series, you’ll be happy to know that the quality of these interviews did seem to improve compared to earlier entries. That being said, this was still difficult to translate for various reasons I won’t bore you with here. Enjoy!
What’s wrong with using the term “collection”!?
Clothing that could be called a work of art, made without compromise
N A plus H
This detail-oriented brand, established in Kobe 7 years ago, started from the passionate feelings of Haraguchi, who had fallen in love with the designer’s creations: “These clothes are so wonderful, I want to sell them”
A detail-oriented collection that realizes all of the designer’s ideas
7 years ago, the brand Na+H was founded1, with a street-facing store opening simultaneously. Brands that start on a commission basis or with only a web shop are common, but at that time, the thought of relying on someone else to do something didn’t enter Haraguchi’s mind.
Haraguchi: “Why do things people want to do end up not working out?” I thought. If you start something out of passion, the beginning is smooth sailing; the really difficult part starts a few years later. People who say they want to start something but don’t, I don’t think they ever really wanted to.
At that time, there wasn’t something called “gothic lolita”2 – even now, the clothes aren’t necessarily made for gothic lolita fashion. But, since one can be put in a box by others regardless of their intention, Haraguchi has taken to saying “it’s not gothic lolita”. Refusing categorization not only has its benefits, but can also serve as a weapon.
There were things that went better than expected, and things that didn’t go so well. But Haraguchi had absolute confidence in the designer’s work that they had fallen in love with. Even if something wasn’t received well, Haraguchi said they would think “Something is wrong with people if they don’t think this is a good design”.
Even today, the design process is of course, right up to finishing the pattern, completely left to the designer. So does Haraguchi worry about the business side?
Haraguchi: We do have to make sales, generally speaking. But it is pretty different from how big businesses do things. A larger company has to think fundamentally in terms of “Is this going to sell or not?”, so on that point it’s not really the designer’s “work” that’s produced. There’s a difference of thinking that goes on where, out of 5 proposed ideas, if maybe 1 makes it into reality that’s good enough. Mass manufacturers have to take that kind of approach, after all. In contrast to a larger company, if you look at our way of doing things, we would say “we’re not making a fashion collection, but rather works of art…”. But I don’t think “collection” is a bad word3. It’s just because we want to include every single detail as best we can. “Collection” is fine, we just want to make something that is especially good.
At first glance, it may seem like Haraguchi is merely supporting the designer, but Na+H wouldn’t exist without their trust in each other and both of their hard work. Connections between people are essential. Since, without a detail-oriented manager meeting a detail-oriented designer, Na+H would have never been created.
“Being a fan of the brand yourself, wanting to live selling this designer’s clothes, that’s the key” Haraguchi said with an earnest look, leaving a deep impression on us.
Were you hoping those janky pseudo-footnotes led somewhere? Great news!
(1) This was published in 2007, putting the brand’s founding at around 2000.
(2) Bold assertion! Or as us researchers might quip, “Citation needed”. For context, KERA! mook Gothic and Lolita Bible started publishing in 2001, and it definitely has the term ゴスロリ gosurori all over the place. However, it’s possible that “that time” isn’t referring to when the brand was founded.
Volume 1 of Gothic & Lolita Bible – Na+H is described aesthetically as “gothic/fetish”
(3) This is a rare nitpick I have with the interviewee‘s language, rather than the interviewer. The word コレクション korekushon is being used here, and this non-native Japanese speaker is here to tell you that, in my experience, it can also be used to mean “art collection”. Even Haraguchi seems to realize their pet peeve about the word doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and spends more time walking it back than explaining it in the first place. And yet, they use it as the pull quote.
What’s next for this interview series? Will I continue on with the milquetoast designer features from the 2005 GLP? Or will I sink my teeth into a more substantial interview published elsewhere? This is where, if I had comments turned on, I would solicit your input. But I don’t want to moderate comments, so instead I will ask around on my socials. Mutuals, feel free to at me!