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Discussion with Jun Takahashi

Tokyo,Japan Words : Yoann Wenger , Images : Jun Takahashi

Hello Jun! First and foremost, thank you for doing this interview with us, we are beyond happy to count you among our “portraits of runners”. How are you? Did you go for a run earlier today?

Yes! I ran 10km this morning. I usually run with my friends but recently, because of COVID-19, I've been running alone. 

This interview will mostly be focused on running, I know it might be unusual but let’s have some fun along the way, I’ll try not to talk too much about fashion!

No problem at all.

I once read that on your first trip to the UK you said/thought “So this is where punk was born?”. Do you realize people say that about “streetwear” when they visit Harajuku now? How does it make you feel now, as you’re still around that same area (your atelier)?

Firstly, when it comes to my trip to and impressions of London, it seems that you are perceiving it as negative. To make it clear, I did not have a bad impression. The overcast clouds (maybe even more so since I went in winter) and heavy air really left a strong impact. I thought to myself that this is the atmosphere that punk was born out of! That really moved me and left an impression. But please don’t think that this was negative. The current scene in Harajuku is completely different from when NIGO and I were doing NOWHERE.
My atelier is still in Harajuku, but I rarely go shopping in the area. Most of my friends who had shops and atelier in Harajuku back then are no longer here. I feel that the 90s street fashion from when I was running around Harajuku is somewhat better than what you see today.

Now, I’m not sure if the fashion back then was cool enough though.

Back then, if you could remember, what was your view of the running practice? It just “wasn't cool” I guess? 

At that time, I never thought I would start running in the future. I had no interest in running at all.

I guess the practice weren’t so popular back then, growing up in the 90’s on my side, we used to do it as part of the school program, it was mandatory thing but not as popular as football or basketball. Did you play any particular sports growing up?

I was doing kendo in junior high school but we also did running sprints in high school.

Do you recall your introduction to running, how did that happened? 

The first time I ran was in my late 30s. I ran on the treadmill of the gym and I started because I was going on a diet…

Would you consider the practice to be some sort of an escape from the real world to dive into one of your fantasy’s one, where you can find inspirations and reflect on it ?

For me, the benefits of running are a combination of health management, mental and physical refreshment, and meditation. I am able to relieve some of my worries and start to think more positively. But I don’t think there’s a particular connection with the inspirations.

Music has a huge influence on your work…do you actually run with music ?

I am typically running with friends, so I don't listen to music. I am usually talking. When I run alone,  I don't listen to music, otherwise I can't concentrate.

Gyakusou was quite new when it comes to color palettes and graphics for the usual running wear that was on the market at the time and probably still is. Did you felt that something was missing in running product designs, did you wanted to break with what was around ?

I don't think the running wear I designed is a completely new design. I don't think we need a completely new design element for running wear.

However, as a citizen runner, when I designed, I was always considering what would be useful and what colors would allow me to blend into the nature and scenery around me. That may be what gives my designs that feeling of something new. 

That collaboration opened up millions of possibilities, I guess? Is there one thing in particular that you were really excited to work on ? 

Every time, I am challenged to work within the narrow range of running wear. I think each and every items contains designs and functions that we could not do with UNDERCOVER.

How did the connection happened back then? 

I was introduced by my old friend from Britain, Fraser Cooke who works at Nike and suggested the collaboration. 

I remember the first shoe you started experimenting with was the Nike Zoom Spider correct ? What shoes do you run with now ?

I’m using 19SS Gyakusou collection’s sneaker.

Are there any athletes that you would love to see compete wearing Gyakusou head-to-toe? In an official competition.

I don’t particularly have favorite athlete, but my favorite author, Haruki Murakami is a GYAKUSOU fan. I would like Mr. Murakami to participate in a tournament dressed in GYAKUSOU.

We are/have (depending on the moment people read this interview) facing very dark times, worldwide…You often write : Chaos / Balance…In this full chaos, in which direction will we find the right balance ?

I can't say anything until we reach a resolution.