INTERVIEW_002 SNAZZ β Web magazine exploring Kansai creative

Things that only you can do. Things that only Japanese can do. Shape what is currently progressively stimulated.
In November 2017, we interviewed as a special feature of creators based in Kansai.

"Cornerian Taurus by Dice Keiwanaga" uses leather made in Japan to create a bag without a sense of déjà vu. Daisuke Iwanaga from Kobe is the designer of this brand, which is sold at famous select shops and department stores around the world. We approached the origin and core of his manufacturing.

Reprinted SNAZZβ article from here

Be yourself and don't forget the heart of Japan
To compete in the world.

The basis of my creation is the idea that "things that only I can do". Before starting the brand, I try to imitate it once and arrange it in my own way. I was conscious of that. From there, I came up with the idea that in order to survive in this industry when launching a brand, you should create something that only you can do. And when I had the perspective of competing in the world, I also wanted to value the idea of "things that only Japanese can do." These two are still the basis of my way of thinking.
Another axis is "to give shape to what you are inspired by in the present progressive tense", and I always incorporate it into the collection theme of each season. From the beginning, I started to take idea sources from things with completely different tastes. Of course, it's a story after understanding the history, flow, and trends of bags.

We are making things while incorporating these three pillars in some form. Since I make a living by designing bags made from many parts, I don't think I'm an artist who builds myself from 1 to 10 in the original. However, I think that my method is probably in a different place in the bag industry because it has a special way of making and thinking.

daisuke iwanaga 1

Taking the opportunity to get a job at a bag maker
Creation blooms.

From childhood to college, I was a soccer player, so I vaguely thought that I would like to become a professional and eat with it in the future. But when I asked myself again, I wasn't confident enough to lose to anyone and decided to go on a different path. Somehow, what came to my mind was that I liked making things, such as assembling plastic models and radio-controlled models from a young age, and making accessories when I was a high school student, even though I was devoted to soccer. Rather than wanting to be a designer or creator, I was more interested in shaping what I envisioned. Then, there was a recruitment of employees at a company that makes bags in Kyoto, and I was able to join the company. Since I make and produce bag samples in-house, I sewed parts such as shoulders with everyone in the company's production team for two months from joining the company to entering the planning office. The starting point now is that I immediately went to buy a sewing machine, went home and started making hobby-level products. It doesn't matter if it's crap, but I'm happy to give shape to what I wanted to make. I was really absorbed in it like a child, and now I want to eat rice.

daisuke iwanaga 2

While I was thinking of leaving the company, I wasn't confident at all. I understood the basic structure of technology and manufacturing, but when I thought about what I was lacking in order to make better things, I still saw the overwhelming way of thinking about technology and quality. A wide-ranging perspective that never happens. I felt these three.

Not just manufacturing
Has the perspective of "selling things."

Next, I will work as a part-time job at a store in Kitayama, Kyoto. It was a select shop trying to create a new movement while dealing with "Martin Margiela" and "Neil Barrett". At that time, he also did interesting work with "Levi's Red" and "Onitsuka Tiger", proposing a mixed style of street fashion and high brand. While working there, it was like going home and doing creative activities for my own bag or a bag ordered by a friend.
Comparing what I make with what the company handles, I realized that the bags I make are heavy and I wanted to see more of the fashion scene in the world. The company had connections overseas, so I asked my boss and buyer to accompany me at the actual cost, and I took him to Europe while I was working part-time. The boss was very energetic and taught me a lot. Under such circumstances, I decided to go on to become a full-time employee because I wanted to study buying seriously. What I learned the most was, after all, from a broad perspective, I applied my own filters and chose something. I think that the experience I had at that time was put to good use in my current job.

  • daisuke iwanaga 3
  • daisuke iwanaga 4

Unexpected encounter
An opportunity to expand overseas.

When I was walking around Male in Paris, I was suddenly pulling my ostrich shoulder bag from behind. When I saw it, I was pulled by a big foreigner ... "What is this bag you have? I'm interested," he said. When asked, a famous fashion journalist asked, "What is that? Where are you selling it?" I told him that he made it himself and only made it as an individual order, but he ordered it immediately. If you think about it normally, you should be worried whether you will really pay for it, but I think it's okay if you were feeling uplifted at that time. So when I brought my bag to my next business trip, he ordered a few ostrich bags and other bags in a row. That's when I talked to the company about retirement and independence. When I consulted with the president that I would like to quit after half a year because I will sell the products I have already purchased responsibly, I found out, but by then I was told to go on an overseas business trip twice.

  • daisuke iwanaga 5
  • daisuke iwanaga 6

From that day, when I got home, I was absorbed in making samples for my next business trip. When I stepped on the sewing machine at night, I received an international call from the journalist and was asked about my bag while talking to the owner of [Recleur] in Paris. When I talked about Daisuke there, he said he was told when he would come to Paris. I wonder if I can bring samples in quick succession. I checked the shops that are said to be the best in the country by fashion conscious people around the world as buyers, such as [Recleur] and [Colette], and [Browns] in London. After all I was genuinely happy. There isn't a chance like this, and I think it's a game here. Then, I managed to complete 8 samples and received an order of about 20 points from [Recle Rule]. I made that story an overseas fashion-related companion. Then I was asked what kind of wholesale I would like to do in the future, and I dared to tell that I wanted to work with the No. 1 or No. 2 shop in that country. Unlike Japan, there aren't many large companies overseas other than the Maison, and I knew that there was a problem with batting at the stores that handle them. Various people asked me how about this buyer and what about that store. We chose carefully and asked them to create an opportunity to meet buyers.

Through making bags
Communicate Japanese technology and culture to the world.

At that time, there was talk about [Joyce] in Hong Kong. It is a department store like [Isetan] in Japan. I took the sample to the office in Paris. The rest is a shop called [Lazari] in Italy. I happened to have a connection and was picked up by [Recre Rule], and after that I decided to work at [Isetan], decided to handle it at [Boon the Shop] of the [New World] group in South Korea, and when I started the brand I'm very blessed. I still think that I can't be ashamed of the people who picked me up at that time, and the people who bought me because I was a Japanese person who didn't understand why. I think it is my role to convey Japanese technology and culture to people in Japan and overseas through products. I started making bags with that in mind, so I'm still protecting it. On the other hand, I also understand that in order to make proposals and convey them to others, I must create my own personality as an absolute creation. I want to keep track of that as well.

daisuke iwanaga 7

The city where you were born and raised, your family, etc.
Take good care of your roots.

I left the company and returned to my hometown of Kobe when I started the brand. It was also decided to meet all the elements of the three pillars I talked about earlier. At first, I rented an atelier in a corner of the shipyard near Kobe station.
"What only I can do", "What only Japanese can do", "I will give shape to what I am always inspired by". When it came to combining these three things, I never thought about purchasing overseas leather when making a collection. I have been working abroad for a long time, and even if it is not 100% original, when I think that only we can do it, we should compete with materials. 70-80% of Japan's leather production is in Himeji and Tatsuno, Hyogo Prefecture. I thought that we had to start manufacturing and creation near the production background. I happened to be born in Kobe. When I thought that only I could do it, I first thought about when I was little. That is the background in which it was born. When I think about what kind of person I am when I am creative, I think it is natural for me to create something when I was born.

daisuke iwanaga 8

As a creation, I made the first atelier near the shipyard, and since the metal fittings used for the bag are mainly the metal fittings of the ship, I chose a place close to the production background. Since I grew up looking at the helmets and tanks I used for my father's work as a diver since I was little, making metal fittings based on ship equipment is one of my backbones. I saw it as the original source for me. I actually took a look at an old shipyard and searched for something like junk. I still vividly remember that I was expanding my imagination, such as whether I could make something with what I found there, or whether it could be used as a fixture in an atelier.