Long before Muccia Prada initiated “Made In” to educate consumers and designers about craftsmanship and artisan skills, Japanese designer Hiroki Nakamura used product education as a catalyst for his brand Visvim. Releasing two collections a year each submitted with a dissertation, Nakamura’s idea is connected to an academic approach of discovery, emphasizing the new materials used in Visvim products as the central thesis for his corresponding collection. By using dissertations to communicate to customers, Visvim is one of the more honest fashion brands on the market, relaying a six-month product development cycle direct to the consumer.
Once a niche brand only available in select stores and nowhere online, Visvim’s dedication to archetypal design and its collaborations with Comme des Garçons, Dover Street Market and Isetan has earned the brand a cult following since it began ten years ago. Now battling counterfeit reproductions, all Visvim products (found most recently in Hostem, London) are sold with official hologram tags embedded with serial numbers.
Part of Cubism inc, a Japanese design and development company, Visvim
works within its self-coined “Free International Laboratory,” which allows the brand to move beyond its own 300 piece collections and collaborate with those that complement the label’s aesthetic platform. The Visvim website, launched just last year, strays away from usual commercial online stores and features only a select few items from each collection. More content-driven then sales-oriented, Visvim.tv uses journal entries from Nakamura’s travels, essays and video clips made at the label’s factories as well as excerpts from the collection’s dissertation.
Having started with just one shoe style (the FBT, a hybrid mixing a traditional hand-sewn native North American moccasin, with a technical running shoe), Visvim now works within several design disciplines. Today F.I.L. is the base for an intimate in-house design team that works on womenswear, outerwear, accessories and travel goods, candles and perfumes, clothing and denim as well as selected collaborations. It appears that the education will never end for those seeking innovative and compelling design.