We caught up with KEIZO SHIMIZU, founder of Nepenthes, designer of Needles.
Garbstore: Please tell us a little about yourself and what the concept was when you started the brand?
Keizo Shimizu: Originally I worked for an importer, and thought it was harder to find good stuff and decided to make my own original line. I started Nepenthes in 1988 as an import company, and Needles as my own line in 1995 bringing together all my favourite things. The name Needles, comes from “Need Less” – i.e. simplifying the design, boiling it down to the essentials, without the extra design. There is minimum ‘design’ elements, and minimum stitching.
GS: Needles always seems to have a ‘70s influence, what do you think about the current ‘trend’ for the ‘70s?
KS: The ‘70s is always a big influence for me…things are always cyclical, I guess things have come together now again for the ‘70s, but Needles is always more modern than the ‘70s. The end of the ‘60s was an important time for me – it’s when I first got into films.
GS: What are your favourite films?
KS: Kramer vs Kramer, Serpico with Al Pacino, West Side Story…All of Woody Allen, especially Manhattan and Annie Hall, although these are from the ‘80s…
GS: Do you have a good piece of advice you have received?
KS: Not really. I have looked at what other people have done, and it makes it clear to me what I want to do or should be doing.
GS: Which is your favourite city, why?
KS: Tokyo. Because I live there. But also New York and London.
GS: What do you love about London?
KS: London is at the centre for men’s fashion, I’m really into footwear design, and the UK is the birthplace for both shoes and men’s clothing
GS: Looking forward, what is next in the pipeline we can get excited about with your brand?
KS: We are opening a new women’s-only Nepethes store in Osaka.