Text: Madoka Hattori Photography: Chikashi Suzuki Translation: Oilman Special thanks: montoak
Keyman of the Tokyo street fashion scene and chief editor of WEB magazines “honeyee.com” and “.fatale”, Testuya Suzuki. We asked him today, about honeyee.com’s recently announced modification in management structure, and what they have in store for the future of honeyee.com.
- Your WEB magazine “honeyee.com” is already in its 8th year, and it has been 2 years since the establishment of your women’s WEB magazine “.fatale” in 2011.
We established our new women’s fashion WEB magazine “.fatale” centered around our “honeyee.com” model. We managed to turn the cash flow positive by 2012 just with advertising revenue. I believe we have succeeded in creating another business model for “honeyee.com”. This has already been announced, but as of September 2013, our shares have been transferred to Aratana Inc., based in Miyazaki prefecture. Ever since honeyee.com’s establishment in 2005, we were faced with the problem of what to do with the company in the future. Unable to decide on a concrete answer, we’ve postponed this problem up until now. However, this also meant the postponement of the question to whether our activities at honeyee.com can be considered successful or not. This was a question I wanted to straighten out at any rate, being entrusted the company by shareholders such as Hiroshi Fujiwara, Hirofumi Kiyonaga, and Hiroki Nakamura. I wanted to be able to report that “honeyee.com is a success!” Right at that time, Shinji Hamauzu of Aratana Inc. came into the picture, and highly valued the current presence of honeyee.com as well as its possibilities for the future, hence leading to our transfer of shares – M&A. This pretty much marks the end of our first chapter. I guess we can say it’s a happy ending.
And now the start of our second chapter. Actually, honeyee.com is not the only one in the midst of entering a new phase. In comparison to the last time I attended an interview on this sight, I think the situation surrounding WEB media and the Tokyo fashion scene has undergone a big change. In my last interview, I mentioned men’s clothing to be the hot topic, but now, the heat has cooled down and I think there is more possibility in women’s clothing. To be frank, I feel there is a hint that Tokyo’s independent women brands are becoming more “Ura-Harajuku (Harajuku Back Street) style”.
Until now, designers of women’s clothes in Tokyo tended to focus on craftsmanship. In other words, they focused on creating beautiful clothes, but lacked the mindset of creating trustworthy “brands”. On the contrary, Tokyo street brands that have succeeded abroad, such as Ape, all began their business through branding. For example, visvim have considered the “creation of good products” in itself a branding method ever since their establishment. Of course, making good products should be the major premise of a brand and the quality of Japanese brands on a whole is very high. However, visvim pushed this idea to its extreme. Their “claim” that they will commit themselves to handmade products to the extent of ignoring reasonability, is what distinguished their “brand”. Such obsession to their concept and production surprised people throughout the world. Plainly making something “good” will lead to nothing. In order to be a brand, your obsession towards creating something “good” needs to be thorough on a global perspective. If a brand is to do wholesale, it is impossible for them to “sell their concept” without owning their own store. The concept of a brand is its actual core. Brands must not only concentrate on creating something good, but also work on transmitting their concept. You can say COMME des GARÇONS specializes in this field, as they made “avant-garde” into a brand.
- I understand “honeyee.com” to be a media established by 4 persons: Hiroshi Fujiwara, Hiromfumi Kiyonaga of SOPH., Hiroshi Nakamura of visvim, and you, Chief Editor Suzuki. At the beginning, honeyee.com used to feature many street brands such as Back Street Harajuku brands and Nike. Now, however, it features Hermes and Gucci, and .fatale also features luxury brands such as Chanel, Cartier, and Saint Lauren in parallel with independent Tokyo brands such as UNDERCOVER, sacai, and HYKE.
With regard to that aspect, it is completely intentional. Especially in the case of .fatale, we wanted to show domestic brands as true “brands” for the autumn-winter season, and so put together a number of special articles where we attached interviews to fashion shoots. For example, with regard to the ambitious piece UNDERCOVER presented at the collection, despite it being a perfect example of the brand’s concept, it is rarely featured in any media, due to the fact that it is a unique piece that can only be purchased on limited occasions. I feel it is .fatale’s mission to feature such pieces. In addition, featuring domestic young brands such as mame in parallel with Saint Lauren follows the same concept. Such concept is our message to .fatale readers that we want them to like and understand both luxury and Japanese brands.
Our features of brands such as visvim and KITSUNE on honeyee.com were partly due to my personal attraction to the personalities of their designers as well as their clothes, as it enabled me to grasp a better understanding of the brands. I also buy and wear their clothes as a genuine customer. I don’t wear them because they are popular. I find enjoyment in being the one to discover a brand before anyone else, and follow the process of their development. What to wear? UNDERCOVER, sacai, or mame. Grasping an understanding of the trending atmosphere and being able to share it with its designers is something we can only do in detail with domestic brands.