H. Lorenzo is a man revered in the fashion business for his discerning eye, and he has managed to keep his equally discerning Hollywood clientele happy for more than 23 years. What keeps this hard to please crowd coming back to his eponymous store in Los Angeles is Lorenzo’s well curated merchandise of established luxury brands alongside relatively unknown, yet promising labels from far-flung locations such as Japan. On a recent buying trip in Tokyo, we caught up with H. Lorenzo for a one-on-one chat about Japanese brands, his eco-concept shop H.L.N.R. and his advice for young designers.
JC Report: You got into Tokyo just a few days ago and have already been making the rounds; what brands have you seen so far?
H. Lorenzo: I’ve seen Toga, Botanika (by Taishi Nobukuni) and I just came from Patrick Stephan. I’m going to take a look at Aguri Sagimori next, then go to Sister. Tomorrow I will see DressCamp and Dress 33 (by former DressCamp designer Toshikazu Iwaya). I saw Dress 33 in Paris, but I want to see it up close. I’ve been coming to Tokyo on these
intense buying trips for five years now. I research everything beforehand
and want to see the up-and-comers.
JCR: What is it about young brands and young designers in Japan that interests you?
HL: There’s this power that comes from their clothes. The details are amazing, I don’t know how they can stay in business while making these
incredibly detailed clothes. I think it’s because they have a love for the
craft and that message is very powerful.
JCR: Is this why you stock so many obscure Japanese brands?
HL: Yes, their clothes just seem different from many of their peers—it’s good. But I worry about them because they are so limited with what they have, and how far they are able to take their brands themselves. It must be hard to survive, I really don’t know how they do it!
JCR: What are some of the drawbacks as a buyer?
HL: In Japan you either have the really girly stuff, or else its quite dark. There is very little in between. Also, I think the menswear is quite amazing, but they have a big problem with sizing because designers cut too slim and too small. They only recently started making more than two or three sizes of their designs. For the women, it’s much more difficult because their sizing is totally catered to a domestic market.
JCR: You also stock many Japanese brands in your new eco shop H.L.N.R.—is this a coincidence?
HL: Not necessarily. I think many Japanese brands already make a lot of eco-friendly pieces so it is easier to pick them up. But I actually sent out letters to all of the brands about two years ago, asking them to produce a few pieces in each of their collections that were more
JCR: Did the brands respond?
HL: Oh, yes! I had designers coming to me saying, “I made some organic pieces because of your suggestion.”
JCR: So are they bending backwards to be eco or to get your attention?
HL: (laughs) If I can use my influence to create a better good then I am going to do it. I hope it creates a domino effect. I am just glad that it has had a good reception so far.
JCR: Despite the amazing architecture, design and solar panels, it seems like the main star of the shop is actually the $8,000 paperless Japanese toilet.
HL: I actually put those in my house first to try it out! Once you’ve used one, you’ll never go back.
JCR: What defines a design as being truly “green,” in your opinion?
HL: That is very, very difficult. I mean, it is impossible to be 100% “green,” it really is. Natural materials, organic fabric, it’s
interpreted by everyone differently.
JCR: In this current market, things are going to get tough for the young, old and eco-loving brands alike. As an important figure in the
industry, what would you suggest to emerging designers to stick it out?
HL: It’s just very important to remember your design aesthetic, as well as the reason one is making clothes. It’s not the materialism of it —people see through that. These young people I see here, they just do it for the love of the craft.
This interview was conducted by Misha Janette.