ENGINEERED GARMENTS ON THE RUNWAY

STYLE/DESIGN

ENGINEERED GARMENTS ON THE RUNWAY

Daiki Suzuki on the first show and Made-in-USA

Video: Managu Gaku Inada / Photos: Yoshiyuki Matsumura / Interview: PERISCOPE

By now you may have heard that Engineered Garments showed its SS14 collection on the runway for the first time ever in July. It took many people in fashion industry by surprise. Daiki Suzuki, the designer, had presented his collections at Pitti Uomo for the last 10 years, but  never before in New York. So Periscope went to Daiki to ask, "Why now?" (To view the full video of the runway show, click the photo.)

What made you decide to do a runway show?
We had been showing at Pitti Uomo for the last 10 years, but we decided not to go back this year. At first, we didn't know if it was all going to work out, but as a bluff, we told ourselves to keep going for at least 10 more years. The first year was a shocking loss, but things started to get better in the second and the third year. Since then, Pitti has become a whole different place. It occurred to me that we didn't want it to be a routine, that it wouldn’t be fresh anymore.  Originally, we liked that we were the only casual brand in a non-casual environment, but then casualness became a tone.  We didn't want to be buried in that and thought it was a good timing to leave.  When we thought of the next step, we debated different possibilities, like showing in Paris or Berlin, or strengthening Women's, but I thought it would be good to do a show as a new challenge.  I was at the store one day and it occurred to me to do a show there. It would be in line with our style to do a small, handmade show in a private manner, not for the press or for marketing, but for buyers who'd come to buy our stuff. Back in the day, there used to be "floor shows" before the word "runway" emerged, where models walked around the floor and buyers placed orders. That is how I imagined it could be.
Is there a theme for the season?
We never have a theme, but we add something playful and symbolic to our usual style. “1968” was chosen for this one, a chaotic time when there was an Anti-Vietnam War mood along with the remaining Beatniks and the emergence of Hippies in the United States and  Psychedelia and Glam Rock in Europe.  I wanted to express that with print on print.
How long have you used "Made in New York" on your labels?
From the beginning, in 1999, when we only sold to Japan. Nobody was using that phrase.
Now it is a huge movement. What foresight. 
We were lucky we rode that wave. But we didn't think anything of it at the time.  We wanted to make clothes that looked normal, but with subtle things that would make a big difference. That is why I wanted to manufacture locally, because we could pay attention to the process.  Even if it would cost more, I wanted to make things by building relationships with factories and watching how they were being made. I liked the idea of making things together with other people.  
It feels that the idea of "Made in USA" and heritage are over-saturated. It became a thing.
Now that everybody is doing it, it is nothing special.  I do wonder, Ok, it is American made, what about design and quality? The products are more important than where they are made.  It is not simply that everything made in the USA is good.
For you, someone who was drawn to America because of American made goods, what was the appeal?
During my teens and 20s in Japan, I liked anything that was American. Foreign goods were considered better and we all aspired to have them. Everything on my body, except for my own body, was American, though the moment I got here, that aspiration was ruined. The beauty of American-made goods is difficult to describe as is the question of "what American culture is." For example, American denims that I grew up with weren't superb or anything in terms of quality of fabrics or techniques.  They would fade, they were hard to button, but if you wore them for a year, they became yours. They are not like Hermes clothes that give you comfort from the day you buy them.  But that adverse value was a good fit for me.  That’s something that would not happen in other places.  It is only possible because of the people and the environment here.  

08.20.2013

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