Hiroaki Sueyasu on His Influences, Art Collaborations and Street Culture

January 21, 2021

Japanese designer Hiroaki Sueyasu launched Kidill in 2014, blending punk, artscene, music subcultures, and streetwear influences.

Do you remember when you made your first piece of clothing?

It was more like a hobby, I started making clothes when I was 27. I bought a t-shirt at ROKIT a vintage store in Brick Lane in London, I hand embroidered a traced picture I drew and layered another t-shirt and docked the two pieces together. This piece sold but I don’t know who purchased this.

So, brand KIDILL started in 2014. How did the style of focusing on London punk, hardcore punk, post punk and grunge cultures you experience in the 90s made any updates?

In the first few years until about 2016 I had a fixed notion that I had to create “proper” clothes and was pursuing some kind of perfection and was focusing on tailored items and lacked the “fantasy” which I am adept at. “Fantasy” here means literally a dream, but the cultures I admire are deeply intricated. My mind of creation shifted towards this thought when I was awarded Tokyo governor’s prize for the Tokyo New Designer Fashion Grand Prix for 2017. The core of “fantasy”, which is music led to come up with collaborations with music bands.

How was the optimism of the style you have now come about?

I first had a simple thought of what I have that would differentiate and stand out over the many designers that exist in the world. Processing my thoughts on what my strengths are, I looked into the cultures pertaining to music and street and focused down to punk, skate, and rock on what I am fond of and incorporated these essences into my creation. I landed on this because this was something that I was confident that I would be the best at expressing. At the same timing, it was a very important moment for me to have met Dennis Morrison, and to be placed at Dover street market and the Trading Museum. There I was told about what Rei Kawakubo commented, “if you like punk just continue doing it”. These words from her were the breakthrough of all the ambivalence and I was relieved. I am just so grateful because it gave me the assurance to proceed with what I am best at doing and made it to the official schedule in Paris, and this to me is definitely the turning point.

After the transformation in the mindset, “collaboration” is a necessity for the KIDILL collection. It feels like expressing love towards the artists and Hiro affirming the existence of what you deeply respect is what KIDILL is all about.

I think that is right, and no out for this for me anymore. Basically, when collaborating mainly we create from the textiles but with this pandemic as a designer we think of what can be done as a designer and I think all designers are thinking the same. For me, presenting only for sales was not interesting, and is inevitable for KIDILL to express the creation in a form of a show, and this pandemic gave me more time to focus more on the clothing itself. So 2021AW was maybe a battle of how much of the susceptibilities and ideas are express through each item, and I feel that this is one mind to continue with and I have to blast out what I like. The sales results are important too but there is something more important no matter what and some things end when it ends. That is why I decided to express my core, and in the collections, it is perceived as a strong appearance but the importance is on the mentality. I wanted to make a “clothes but not clothes” idea and this came from few sources, one of them was the exchanges I made with Winston Smith, who thinks on the global affairs with concerns for the future of Earth, and I figured out myself that I was narrowminded.

The name of the brand is a coinage of pureness within a chaos. Pursuing pureness may turn in to madness.

I think that is so true. One fashion YouTuber who is a corporate designer once said creating only what you want is just like masturbation. This simply has no excitement. I choose to struggle and create what I want. In the struggle where you see no end, there are many important factors one encounters in this struggle. Achieving success from yourself of yesterday in midst of working in the instability of creation and of the mind is what my people around me do and this is okay. This makes us progress. This is punk. When you feel weak you become conservative, but I quit doing this. Now I am not alone, I have a team that struggles together with me.

The impromptu show music for 2021AW was by Keiji Haino, does this relate to what you have been talking?

Yes, of course. From the early 70s, he has firmly believed in what he was doing without any compromise. For me he is one of a kind of punk because he still continues now, I think he doesn’t like me saying this, but I say out with full respect. Even before I was born, he would make recordings at home by himself, making a world of his own, and has led to performing live shows all over the world. There is a huge age difference, but I believe that I could comprehend his mind. The color image I have of him is black, but it’s a colorful black, I feel red and green in the black. He has a dark side but at the same time a romantic. It’s like he bursts out 120% of the rabbles in his mind, outstanding music. But when you talk to him you see he is very charming. About the show he was stubborn and sincere, it just seems like he has a lifestyle of only taking in what’s pure, nothing cloudy, and admire his full persona.

It is totally joining hands with 2021AW collection of how you wanted to burst your ideas

Yes, definitely. I have things that I want to firmly pursue. What Haino and I do is completely different, but he told me, “if you are going to compromise and if you don’t like it don’t make me an offer”. I was so honored.

This season all the artwork is with collaboration with Jesse Draxler, how did this happen?

I noticed Jesse through the album “I Disagree” by Poppy. Painting on the monochrome photos was so cool and as a fan, I started looking upon him and seeing the graphics and painting that has aspects of gothic and punk I was purely in love with it. I didn’t have anyone in common but I just contacted him. From the textiles, tags, invitation envelope to the press release he was very earnest and gave me the best feedback. Other continuing collaborations with EDWIN、rurumu:、Dickies, there are products with HOUSTON and CA4LA as well.

Lastly, this very important question. How often do you go eat desserts in a week?

I go once in 2 days, even if I am by myself. I love all desserts but the cakes at Mont St Clair in Jiyugaoka in Tokyo are all so good.

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