I first met Kogi Motofumi, better known as “POGGY” when he was the director of retail space Liquor, woman & tears in Aoyama, Tokyo, and his unique fashion scene and kind personality left an everlasting impression. Having long been associated with UNITED ARROWS, POGGY is now the brands buyer, director of UNITED ARROWS&SONS and UNITED ARROWS HARAJUKU FOR MEN while playing a pivotal role in the scene in Tokyo. I recently sat down with POGGY to talk about fashion and what he is into.
JAMES OLIVER / What was your first introduction to fashion?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / I guess it was when I was a high school student. There was a school trip and I wanted to impress my friends by making my style different from school uniform.
JAMES OLIVER / Can you explain your own personal style?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / Classic tailoring with street fashion essence, I like mixing up these two elements.
JAMES OLIVER / Where do you source inspiration from on a daily basis?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / I get inspiration both from daily life, like taking my son to the park on weekends to more extraordinary experiences like Fashion shows and events.
JAMES OLIVER / What other cultural elements influence you? Please explain.
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / I am very influenced by 90’s Ura-Harajuku culture, the youth music culture that was so strong during my teenage life while now I enjoy old movies and art that Japanese select shops that are so influenced by. Both cultures are living in me now.
JAMES OLIVER / Can you please talk about your role as buyer at United Arrows and how you approach yourself to the position.
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / My role is, I guess, is breaking through tradition while respecting the origin of the piece. I never forget that I am able to be a buyer because there is a customer who love shopping at UNITED ARROWS so I want to give my full of respect to a designer, brand and factory.
JAMES OLIVER / What are your thoughts on the comparison of overseas labels and Japanese labels?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / Japanese fashion culture is like Ukiyo-e (Japanese historical drawing in Edo Period) where the beauty of general people and daily situation is found, I sense something special with this being Japanese. It’s a different way of the “beauty” seen in European fine art from the late 19th century. While you can also see new idea’s and sense of beauty with quality even in mass production in Japan and I guess that’s one of the special things that is unique to Japan. I also love obsessive nature and individual eye Japanese people have with detail in a good way and strong passion for their work.
JAMES OLIVER / You travel quite a lot, what cities have a lot of energy and positive things happening in regard to fashion at present. Please explain.
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / If just to talk about fashion, it is absolutely Tokyo. There is no city like Tokyo that every one shop has their own individual way to edit fashion culture. Tokyo has several areas that has its own culture as well, Koenji has a strong global vintage clothing culture, Akihabara has a global culture of cartoon that influences fashion nowadays, then Ginza, Daikanyama and Shimo-Kitazawa all have their own fashion scene so it’s very exciting to live in Tokyo.
JAMES OLIVER / What labels should we get excited about for FW2013?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / PIGALLE from Paris with a full line up and a new brands from England called Art Comes First who are debuting in A/W2013.
JAMES OLIVER / In your own words can you explain the current climate of the scene in Tokyo. How has it changed over time and what direction is it taking?
Few years ago, Tokyo fashion scene wanted brand new trends all the time but after the big disaster in 2011, I think people’s mind naturally shifted another way. We began to think and ask ourselves what is worth wearing in our life even though if it’s through brand new trends. There is more people in the fashion industry now really dedicating themselves and doing their work with full passion after the disaster as well, I guess they began to think they have to do what they really love, doing something a bit different from a business perspective and find their own way in fashion. I hope a lot of interesting things happening in near future in Tokyo.
JAMES OLIVER / What are three things you don’t leave home without?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / Wallet, mobile phone and keys.
JAMES OLIVER / Where is the best place to eat in Tokyo?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / Narukiyo in Aoyama.
JAMES OLIVER / Favourite city you have visited?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / Firenze
JAMES OLIVER / Worst fashion around at present?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / I don’t there is bad fashion as long as it individual, I respect for that.
JAMES OLIVER / Best fashion around at present?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / Stussy bucket hat with 90’s flavour!
JAMES OLIVER / Finally, what will you do after this interview?
KOGI “POGGY” MOTOFUMI / I am actually really starving at the moment as I haven’t eaten yet today because I overslept… think I will have a special curry for my lunch after this!
Photography credit / ©Tommy Ton (second portrait of Kogi “POGGY” Motofumi)