Why This Japanese Fashion Label Is The Winner Of The 2018 LVMH Prize

Fashion

August 23, 2018 | BY Cheryl Chan and Chloe Pek

Available on our shores at Dover Street Market for the first time, get to know Masayuki Ino, the founder and designer of tongue-in-cheek label Doublet who beat eight other designers and went on to win this prestigious prize

How did the brand come about and how did you go about choosing the name?
Masayuki Ino (MI) I started thinking about being a fashion designer when I was in high school. I like playing around by adding new designs to daily basic products. Doublet is a play on words, a word puzzle, and it’s the same idea as what I have been designing. So that’s why I chose the brand name as Doublet.

What I like is designing based on what we know and changing it into something new. If I designed something totally new starting from square one, it’s not realistic. It’s like science-fiction and I like to stick close to reality.

Was there an experience that inspired you to design this way?
MI There was no specific experience that inspired me to go in this direction. I just want to design what I like, and I want to make something fun that moves people’s feelings.

Describe your brand in three words.
MI Strange, humourous and comfortable.

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What does it mean for you to be a gender-neutral brand? 
MI In my opnion, it’s not really important to design menswear or womenswear. If you like my collection, it doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman. What I design is for everyone. It’s just my preference to be designing in this direction. For other brands, It is up to them how they want to design because fashion has no boundaries so there’s no specific rule or direction.

You won the 2018 LVMH Grand Prize this year, how will you be using that to grow your brand?
MI After winning the prize, so many people started to know about Doublet, so it’s already a big change for me. Maybe now the brand is a more popular name than in the past few years, but I just want to keep going step by step and not expand too fast. I still want to maintain what I have been doing and stay involved in ensuring the quality and production is there.

We won two months ago, but globally, although more people know my brand, we haven’t decided in detail how we are going to grow. We haven’t even made a special agreement or contract with LVMH group, so we don’t have any specific plans about how to grow internationally.

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Of late, the fashion industry has been widely accepting of streetwear which used to be more of an underground sub-culture, why do you think that is so?
MI Streetwear is very trendy worldwide right now, but I don’t think it’s anything special because in Japan, we have our own streetstyle from more than 10, 20 years ago. We were born into this kind of culture, this style, so it’s not really surprising that worldwide streetwear is becoming a trend.

The leading streetwear brands will stay and will keep influencing the fashion scene in the future. Maybe these brands can ignite some movement again in new categories. On the other hand, maybe the brands who follow these streetwear styles will face some difficulties, so maybe only the leading ones can keep influencing people and create new categories in the streetwear scene. Maybe the streetwear category will disappear in the future. It might become mixed luxury-streetwear, so there might be a new name for it. We just have to keep moving forward.

This in turn has created a niche market of a luxury streetwear aesthetic causing many brands to pop up or gain success over the last couple of years, where do you fit it all of this and do you think this popularity will last?
MI Maybe many people think Doublet can be categorised as streetwear, but I don’t want to be categorised like that. I don’t want to do the same direction as other brands, I want to create my own direction, my own niche creation. I’m finding my own path.

What is luxury to you?
MI I don’t like the word luxury, because when we hear it, it means to be number one or number two. But I don’t care for this kind of ranking. I want to make something new that can surpass luxury. My brand isn’t about luxury and it doesn’t exist in my world.

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