A Take On Fashion: Yu Masui

October 3, 2022

Japanese journalist and street style icon Yu Masui lives between Tokyo and London while tirelessly touring fashion weeks around the globe. He grew up Hamamatsu, an industrial city between Tokyo and Osaka, before moving to London and starting his career as a buyer for upcoming brands at the now-shuttered retail destination, The Pineal Eye, founded in 1997 by Yuko Yabiku, Nicola Formichetti, and Eric Portès. Currently, he works for leading Japanese publications such as Asahi Shimbun, Senken Shimbun and Spur magazine and is also a scout for the LVMH Prize. Consistently supporting young creatives, he has become a flag-bearer for a wave of visionaries. And as evidenced from his answers below, he has candid views on the state of the industry.

In what ways is exploration a natural part of the design process?

It’s hard to say as I’m not from the creative side. But I think that research is getting easier and easier (in sad way). Some designers and design assistants (creative directors should be in control) are jumping on (inspired from) what they see on physical or on social media too easily. That’s why we find almost copies of identical designs or ripping off from graduate collections and young designers. Sorry for sounding negative, but I get upset about bigger brands or powerful designers stealing ideas from young talents without recognition. I want to support them.

What are some of the themes and ideas that you would like to see designers exploring through the next few seasons?

Obviously sustainability and diversity. Today, there are so many options for sustainable ways of making collections; I’d suggest designers look into them. To be honest, young designers don’t even talk about sustainability anymore as it has become a kind of “standard” for them. In relation to diversity, putting two or three plus-size models on the catwalk is not the solution. Recently, I found it was so odd to watch shows with plenty of very pretty and skinny models, then a couple of plus-size girls. How about average build, or short, or any other different human beings? People are not just models or plus-size. I know it costs a lot to make more samples or sizes, but there are many young designers trying to show real diversity! Is it maybe time for luxury houses and established designers to consider this more. 

How do you, personally, explore what’s new and exciting in fashion?

I walk. I go to shows, presentations and showrooms. I’m not that kind of person who flips through phone screens to explore fashion. I’d rather experience or meet designers; feel the fabrics and see the details. As I work as a scout for the LVMH Prize, I must make sure the quality is right, I’m old-fashioned in that way. Of course, I meet wonderful creators through social media, too.

How have the past few years shaped your exploration through social media and the virtual world?

I’m more of a physical person instead of sitting in front of computer and spending hours on research. It is more time-consuming (or time-wasting). But I prefer going to showrooms and trade shows. Or making individual appointments after I find people on social media. Those digital images can be modified so easily just like people’s faces and bodies. By the way, I’ve never used app, filters on my images, or physical Facetune either!

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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