Tetsu Nishiyama Interview
Guerrilla The Incubation Period
Since first interviewing Tet from WTAPS back in 2009 I got a great insight into a label which has played a pivotal role in Ura-Harajuku for more than a decade. Continuing to influence on many levels, Tet has seen WTAPS evolve and grow with great distinction while remaining on the level in which it was founded on. Recently Tet opened G.I.P. Store in Shibuya, a bold move away from the iconic Blackflag select store in Aoyama, but one that has since reaped the rewards with a compelling concept in place and one that represents WTAPS with a strong direction.
James Oliver: Can you tell me a bit about the philosophy of WTAPS and how WTAPS evolved in recent years?
Tetsu Nishiyama: Placing things where they should be. This philosophy is something that has been passed down orally among the Japanese miyadaiku (shrine and temple builders) and is precisely what WTAPS strives to achieve. “Use wood as it is in the direction it grows”.
JO: Can you tell me a bit about how you approach your blog on Honeyee.com. Its quite unique so how do you think it connects you with those who follow you?
TN: I have an editorial policy for my blog. By writing daily with a fixed-point observation, I felt I could convey a casual everyday message. This is something which cannot be done using any form of media, right? And you do not have to show about how it was at that party or take photos with who’s who, you know.
JO: Blackflag was open for more than 5 years and became an iconic location, what was behind the decision to change the location and concept of your retail outlet for the brand?
TN: Blackflag was a select shop and the reason I closed it was to create something I always wanted to do and have waited for, a WTAPS only shop, so I decided to open the GIP-STORE. The area chosen for this store in Shibuya is a very memorable area for someone like me that grew up in Shibuya.
JO: Can you go into detail about the concept of GIP-STORE? Please talk about the name and the idea behind the space and location.
TN: Guerrilla’s Incubation Period. Portraying ourselves as guerrillas, the name comes from meaning our hide-out which is also our base of operations. That is why the outside walls are covered in moss for camouflage like a bunker and the interior is set up like a base camp.
JO: It has been open for a couple of months now, what is your perception on how it has been received by your clientele?
TN: Well, I do not know. It seems like they like it? But I have not actually asked around directly. So how is it?
JO: The store holds purely WTAPS and 40% against rights, rather than a select store, can you explain the direction of the store, the labels and how they reflect on each other?
TN: WTAPS brand also has a track record as apparel. Regarding FORTY PERCENTS AGAINST RIGHTS®, it more of an activity/movement versus a brand. Simply put, FORTY PERCENTS AGAINST RIGHTS® is an expression of none other than what is inside me.
JO: Many people place a lot of respect in your ideas as you are a genuine philosopher. How do you perceive this? What is your concept in regard to this when you approach a collection, especially when coming up with slogans that represent your work?
TN: Thank you very much. You know, I am not such a person of to be respected but I appreciate the kind words. Like I answered before, FORTY PERCENTS AGAINST RIGHTS® is what is within me; so what is WTAPS? If I have to get down to it regarding WTAPS, it may be my lifework. I am not one to push through people to be assertive and this may show in WTAPS. The words passed down by miyadaiku I mentioned before and Taoism are my fundamental beliefs and they are also my ideal.
JO: Can you tell me a bit behind the concept of the SS2012 collection?
TN: 2011 was an extremely tough year for us Japanese. Like how it reached all of you in the news the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation. It was a year that I had to face and think about how to live on with what these things did. This collection drops in visual scenes and aesthetics which any Japanese person like us knows. Because, still after all that, we were born on this land and have to live on.
JO: Finally, words to live by?
TN: I cannot say anything grand but in my case, living in the present is something I value. Friends that could not live in the present and the happenings of 2011 have me feeling this stronger than before.