Interview & Words by: Migs Mosuela
Photos from: VinceKids
When people talk about Japan, they talk about a lot of things: their culture, trains, technology, food, people, and all the things that make it so interesting. Everyone has a thing or two that they admire on countries like this.
I’m the kind of person that really takes notice about the culture a certain community manifests. One of the most well-known head-turners of our generation is Japan’s very own. When you think about it, it’s just iconic. They’re the country when it comes to technology. How they interact, how they work, and most importantly, how they make art. (That’s a whole different article when we talk about that.)
And never in my wildest thoughts would I interview people about their experiences – especially the ones who’s been to Japan.
Our brand Content Head Lex Perry assigned me an article I couldn’t refuse, and that’s to showcase DBTK’s upcoming collection – DBTKJPN Vol. 2.
Wondering how it all connects a pretty interesting line? Read on as I talk to Emil and Vince Javier about it.
Tell me about your Japan Trip.
Vince: It was really fun! This is our second time going to Japan since our first visit back in 2015. In the streetwear industry, Japan has been looked up to when it comes to quality and the details, so I think one of the good reasons why we were in Japan is to really get inspiration from it, to get things we can pick up for Don’t Blame The Kids. It’s also been our dream to put up a shop there.
And oh, it was my anniversary with my girlfriend, so we went around Tokyo, ate lots of food and checked out the shops in Harajuku which is the home to shops like Bape, Undefeated, Supreme, and more. We met up with Kuya Emil after a week, arranged a meeting with the people we wanted to talk to and carried out what needed to be carried out.
Emil: I was separated from Vince since I didn’t think he would want me around when he celebrates his anniversary with his girlfriend. (both laughing) They were staying in Tokyo while I went in Kyoto since I’ve always wanted to visit what used to be the capital of Japan. It was kind of my first time travelling solo, making itineraries by myself and exploring while commuting around. I didn’t really learn to commute here in the Philippines, because I was so afraid. I knew I had to learn right now if I wanted to get around here. And the experience was exhilarating. It felt good being alive.
What makes you go back?
V: Harajuku’s the place to be. If you’re really, really passionate about the streetwear scene, you’d be open to the other scenes around the world. When you’re there, you really get the gist of how people dress up. The shops there are really timeless and pays so much attention to details. It would never bore you out.
E: I agree. The way the shops would place decorations around is as equally important as the hanging of the clothes. It contributes to an experience that would make you feel different kinds. Questions like “If I place this here, would it make customers feel at home, or would it intimidate them?” are questions worth asking yourself.
Speaking of experience, Vince is the type of person who’s always hungry for sights to see. That’s probably why he keeps coming back to Harajuku. He’s really eager to take it all in.
For once, we weren’t the shop owners. We were customers. And it feels good to learn more and more.
What are the things you like about Japan?
E: When I was younger, I’ve always appreciated their culture. On the animes and the different series that I watch, and the music that they make, they show a sense of sincerity. So when I was in Japan to really see what it was like, their attitude blew me away. Even though a lot of Japanese people are not really fluent with English, they’ll try their best to communicate what they’re trying to say to you. The other end of that is also true! When you’re telling them something, you could really see it in their expressions that they’re paying attention to what you’re saying. They’ll be sincere in their actions and passions, too.
V: What I like about them, though, is that they’re simple, but also futuristic. They’re driven by vision. Even if we think it’s nonsense, they’ll do it regardless because they know they can. But at the end of the day, it’s what their creation contributes to the Japanese’s culture and community. That always resounded with me, because they would want their works to help their people.
Not to mention, the people are always on time. We’ve met up with Buddy in his shop, and he said he’ll be there by 1:30pm. We’ve arrived by 1:25pm, and we told him we’re already there. By 1:29pm, I received a message that he’s very near, and when it was exactly 1:30pm, he showed up! To me, it was just amazing. It really shows how much the Japanese respects your time.
What can the Filipino youth learn from the Japanese?
E: We should really learn to appreciate things sincerely. Out here, we always see things as if it is a competition, and it looks like as if it’s one, big platform to prove yourself. Over there in Japan, however diverse the people are in there, they still appreciate each other! As if their differences don’t really matter that much. They still appreciate each other for their passions. They lift each other up.
If you think about it, that’s the culture we’re trying to impart in DBTK. From the customers we meet to the clothes we make, we want to send a message that there’s someone backing them up.
What is the mindset behind the upcoming Japan collection?
V: The thing about this collection is it’s all about Japan. It’s all simple, really. It’s more of showing the things we found iconic so that people would be like, “Oh! This definitely reminds me of Japan.”
We’ve released the first Japan collection back in 2015, and the upcoming collection would be reminiscent of that, but we’ll be taking things on a very different approach than before. Not to mention, we didn’t really want to dive deep into it, because we wanted the pieces to shine while being easy on the eyes. Although, at the same time, it’s not just the design. It’s the story and experience that we want to get through.
E: We’ve got a lot going on in the collection, and we’re taking up plenty of inspiration for this. We often ask ourselves about what you would commonly see in the country so that we could really show it here. We have Gundam, Godzilla, Mount Fuji and such. Design-wise, it’s really more of that.
Not to mention, these particular pieces of clothing would cater to lots of people – even the ones outside the Philippines. Since this is a collection about Japan, we decided to shoot our lookbook in Japan and get Japanese models. Judging from their reaction about the pieces they were modelling, they were happy about it. We see how the models resound with the clothes – not as models, but as people.
V: We had this one shirt that had the Japanese translation of “Don’t Blame The Kids”, and they were impressed by the accuracy of the translation of it (we had our friend translate it to Japanese). They like it, but they have this “culture thing” where no Japanese person would want to wear a Japanese shirt with Japanese text in it. Kind of like how we don’t like wearing a shirt that has the words “Mabuhay” and the Philippine flag in it. There’s this off feeling that you can’t shake away when it comes to that.
One thing we want to give to our customers is not just the clothes, but the experience: we really hope that they don’t just see Japan in our clothes, but also to experience it themselves when they buy a shirt or two. That’s why we shot our lookbook in Japan.
What should kids pick up from the collection?
V: Definitely the shirts. We’ll be releasing a kimono, too!
E: At least through this article, you know what we’re trying to give you guys from our collection. It’s not just the designs.
V: It’s the experience, the story, the message and everything that comes with it. We hope you enjoy wearing them as much as we had fun making them.
And there you go.
There’s no doubt that there is more than what meets the eye through the graphics of these shirts.
And in case you missed out on the previous Japan Collection, here’s your shot with DBTKJPN ver.2! We’ll be holding a release party in our Flagship store this July 7, Saturday. We’re hoping you’ll come through because we have sick acts and a great time.
Hope to see you there!