Lately, Japanese menswear brand Bedwin & the Heartbreakers has garnered considerable attention from the style community for its unusual silhouettes, myriad collaborations with American brands and quite possibly our favorite pair of pants in the world. We caught up with the man behind the curtain, Masafumi Watanabe, to talk about music, the people who inspire him and just how East met West in the world of fashion.
You seem more inspired by American traditions than Japanese ones. Is that true? Japan has adopted western fashion since the beginning of the 20th century and the Meiji Era. It was even more amplified after World War II and the U.S. occupation of Japan. Our traditional clothing such as the Kimono and Yukata are now used exclusively for special events and ceremonies like weddings. That being said, I really believe Japan has developed its own tradition of Western garment crafting.
When did you first become interested in Americana? It’s hard to say since I’ve received cultural influences from America and Europe continually throughout all my life. If I have to choose a particular period, I would say that it was during my early teenage years that I really started to pay deeper attention to music, movies, sports, fashion and all the different elements of western popular culture.
And a lot of your lookbooks have music-inspired names. How big of a role does music play in your creative process, and who are some of your favorite musicians? I always use my favorite musicians as a soundtrack for my collection. In the past I’ve used artists like Tom Waits, The Smiths, Talking Heads or AC/DC. The music is for me a background inspiration for the mood of the collection.
What’s the ideal man you imagine wearing your clothing? I would describe the ideal Bedwin man as an ordinary man with character. Our clothing is a complement to a man’s character, it should illustrate a mood, a certain way of life. We always intend to find the right balance between simple, wearable, and unique garments.
What kind of clothes did you love when you were younger? I was born and raised in West Tokyo. My first encounter with fashion was through sportswear. During my early teenage years, I started playing soccer and got to know brands like Nike, Converse and Adidas.
You’ve talked about loving vintage elements but also looking towards the future with your clothing. What exactly does that mean to you and do you ever find it frustrating? I love vintage clothing and it definitely represents for me, as a designer, an endless source of inspiration. At the same time, I’m not trying to reproduce any of these classics—my goal is always to find inspiration in the past in order to create a modern piece more suitable for our contemporary and urban lifestyle.