25 Maison Kitsuné
It’s taken more than a decade but the Paris-based fashion and music label Kitsuné has finally opened in Tokyo. With their blend of Japanese tradition and Parisian elegance, the Aoyama stores and café are the perfect embassy for the brand.
Over a decade after the launch of their Paris-based fashion and music label, Kitsuné, co-founders Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaëc have finally opened a home in Tokyo. Two in fact: Maison Kitsuné and, a few steps away, the smaller Café Kitsuné. Given that Tokyo’s effortless crossover of music and fashion was the original inspiration for the label, it’s been a long time coming. “It was just timing,” says Kuroki, who slips easily between English, Japanese and French. “We could have opened here a couple of years ago but 11 March [earthquake and tsunami] happened and then we opened our New York store.”
When two sites came up in Aoyama, a neighbourhood loaded with designer stores, they decided the time was right. “Aoyama – ‘the blue mountain’ – it sounds chic, a bit upper class,” laughs Kuroki, an architect who is responsible for the design of the Kitsuné (the word means “fox” in Japanese) stores. He has given the two new spaces a very different look. For the Maison, where they sell their beautifully made men’s and women’s collections, Kuroki came up with
a blend of Haussmann hauteur and custom-made Japanese touches such as the curved tatami benches and sliding doors. The knock-out parquet floor was made in situ by a Japanese craftsman. “He had all the pieces and produced this overnight,” says Kuroki, sweeping his arm before him.
For the smaller café, which doubles as a standing coffee counter and a store for Kitsuné’s music and the casual Tee and Parisien lines, Kuroki assembled what he calls his “dream team” and created his version of a Japanese interior using wood and tatami. “I was brought up in Paris so I have an outsider’s perspective,” he says. “We both really like a certain Japanese aesthetic – like simple soba places – and we wanted to show a young audience the beauty of traditional things.”
There will be Tokyo exclusives, such as a Kitsuné Japan T-shirt, but Kuroki thinks that ultimately “the look is very Parisian, Ivy-inspired” and that’s the way the Tokyo customers like it. “We have a young crowd,” he says. “But they appreciate quality.” That means eight-ply cashmere from Scotland and Japan-made denim. From autumn/winter this year, Kitsuné will also have its own exclusive denim made in Okayama. “It looks heavy but it feels light,” says Kuroki. “It’s really difficult to make.” Kuroki and Loaëc are canny businessmen, so is this the start of launch across Asia? “Of course, we want to talk to Asia,” he says. “We know that everyone in Hong Kong, Singapore and China is looking at what’s happening in Japan. From here we can show them the value of the brand.”