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CIRCLE OF DAYZ Vol.1 Masafumi Watanabe Part 1

In "CIRCLE OF DAYZ," we take an in-depth look at those who are closely associated with DAYZ as well as other fascinating people. This first interview was with Masafumi WATANABE, the man behind the BEDWIN & THE HEARTBREAKERS brand, who has been leading the street scene in Tokyo. He is the person who created DAYZ. In the first part of the interview, he talked about the reason for launching DAYZ and his thoughts on the newly launched web media DAYZ ARCHIVES.

The reason why these friends of 20 years have now opened a shop at this spot this year.

——First of all, I'd like to ask you about the reason for starting DAYZ. When did you have the idea to create a shop like this?

Probably about 3 or 4 years ago. When I was involved in the apparel business through my own brand, BEDWIN & THE HEARTBREAKERS, I became interested in starting a new specialty shop. At about the same time, I started to think about the significance of a brick-and-mortar shop in the internet era. When I was looking for a place to open a new shop in the Shibuya area, the owner of the SAI Gallery next to DAYZ said to me, "There's a vacancy next to Miyashita Park, why don’t you try there?” From that point, we quickly created and cultivated the ideas that became DAYZ.

——What was the deciding factor in choosing this location for DAYZ?

When street shopping in Tokyo was at its peak, it was cool to open a store in a place where you couldn't easily find it. I used to think, "What's the point of opening a store in a shopping mall or station building where everyone else goes shopping? Fashion trends have changed over the past few decades, and now many people are interested in freely experimenting with various fashion styles, so I thought it would be best to do something special in a place with a lot of foot traffic. Miyashita Park is the halfway point between Shibuya and Harajuku, and I've been visiting there often since I was young. With that in mind, I decided to do something new with my friends in Tokyo at a modern spot.

——It's true that it's quite unusual to find a shop like DAYZ in such a large-scale commercial center.

I know, right? I took a chance to create an authentic retail space like this: I wanted it to be a place that was geared towards those who were part of the culture of Shibuya and Harajuku in the 1990s, and to be a place that would be great even if you weren’t familiar with that culture. We wanted to convey the world of Tokyo culture and brands to everyone that came in.

——What do you think about taking the DAYZ concept, "From Tokyo to the World", and actually bringing it to the rest of the world?

Actually, there aren't many shops in Tokyo that have a selection of Tokyo brands. When my friends from abroad ask me where they can go to see brands in Tokyo, I tell them that there isn’t any single place that has all the brands together, so I have to take them around to a bunch of different shops. There are a lot of cool specialty shops like BEAMS and UNITED ARROWS, but I don't think there are any shops that are clearly "Tokyo". That's why I thought it would be interesting for someone like me, who runs a brand in Tokyo, to open a store like that. It would be great if it could function as a shop where people who come to Tokyo could find something from Tokyo, in the same way that we check out local brands when we go to New York.

——The DAYZ brand logo was designed by Tetsu Nishiyama of FORTY PERCENT AGAINST RIGHTS, WTAPS, and DESCENDANT, and the shop's interior was designed by M&M CUSTOM PERFORMANCE. How did you decide on this lineup?

They are creators and friends that I look up to. Even though not all of us liked it, people used to say that we were “family”. Now that we're getting older, doing what we love to do, and growing in terms of business, I wanted to bring the family together again and create something new. This is the kind of synergy that we value, and that’s our style.

——It really is an all-star group.

I started with this team because I wanted to go back to my roots, but I think it's important to purposely connect it to the next generation, rather than just ending up there. We want to introduce Tokyo from many angles by including high end brands and young people's brands. Just as the city of Tokyo keeps changing, I want DAYZ to keep changing. I think the role of DAYZ is to keep up with what's happening in Tokyo today, and to let people who live in Tokyo experience the culture that we love, not to mention people from other parts of the country and abroad.

We take a deep look into "what's happening in Tokyo today" and share it with the rest of the world.

——In addition to the shop, DAYZ has also launched "DAYZ ARCHIVES", a web medium that also serves as an online store. Did you decide in the beginning to promote on- and off-line?

At first, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but after I decided to open the store at Miyashita Park, I started to get a clearer picture of what I wanted to do. The ideas that had been floating around in my head gradually came together.

——What do you hope to achieve with DAYZ ARCHIVES?

First off, our aim is to be a "local Tokyo magazine" filled with information about the local scene. I hope that through this site, people will be able to learn more about the city of Tokyo and will want to visit. It's a true "walking guide to Tokyo" (laughs). At least, it would be ideal if it could be used like “I'm going to Shibuya today, so lemme check out DAYZ ARCHIVES to see if there's any interesting places to visit, or if there's a new art show in Harajuku. And, while I’m here, I can read an interview with a local artist.”

——So the interior of the shop and the design of the website each have a slightly different feel.

A shop is where people meet, so I wanted to create a space where you can feel the “human touch”. I was able to make the shop "stand out" in this kind of commercial facility by having my long-time friends contribute to what started out as a personal DIY project. On the other hand, web media is a place where you can access a lot of information in an instant, so we wanted to create a slightly different atmosphere than a shop. I asked Yoshimoto of YAR, which specializes in digital art, to create a cool digital design. Some people think “store fronts and the websites are completely different”, but in my mind, they are all the same. It's just a different path; the goal is exactly the same.

——There are a lot of Japanese fashion media outlets that report on global trends, but it's rare to find one that focuses exclusively on Tokyo.

You’re right about that. But Tokyo is a place filled with so much content that you could make a media outlet out of this city alone, and there's so much more to it than one could ever dig up. We wanted to find meaning in the fact that we, as locals, are able to transmit what's happening in Tokyo in a real way. We want to create that kind of credibility.

Text : Momoka Oba
Photo : Takao Iwasawa