- A Fascination Hidden in the Fascinating Osaka
To people who enjoy exploring various fashion scenes, Japan has the unmatchable charm of providing diversity and embracing various styles. Among all the astonishing garments, I’ve always been drawn to the unique artisanal, avant-garde ones that pay close attention to the details of cloths, introduce innovative design, and discover the breakthrough of ergonomics. Nevertheless, for most of the enthusiasts who adore Japanese artisanal brands but live far overseas, the only destination that provided such content online 5 or 6 years ago was probably the mysterious select shop residing in the glamorous Osaka, the fascinating FASCINATE. Three years after moving to the never sleeps Tokyo from the never rains California, I finally had a chance to visit this amazing store that I’ve long been in contact with. After personally experienced the ambience of the store, I found peace in the artistic conception of “There’s Nothing But FASCINATE” again.
Locating near the famous food paradise Dōtonbori and tourists-crowded Shinsaibashi district, Kitahorie district was rather quiet and calm at night. With most of the stores closing their lights as the night passed by, it was hard to neglect FASCINATE’s bright and dignified entrance shining through the darkness in the alley of Kitahorie. As I walked into the simple but polished front door, I suddenly noticed the unconventional structural difference between FASCINATE and other select shops. The showroom at the storefront was painted in white and embellish with bright decorations to highlight the dark-oriented garments from Artisanal brands like DEVOA, the Viridi-anne, and Individual Sentiments. The second floor of the FASCINATE fortress on the other hand, was remodelled to a startup-like studio environment to accompany daily work and e-commerce business. The unique setup of the store also echoed the owner Tokunaga-san’s concept behind FASCINATE — “We are not just a “store” that sells uncommon Avant Garde pieces. We strive to be the platform that showcases the Excellence and the Attention to Detail of Japanese Shokunin (craftsmanship) Spirit, and promotes the Uniqueness and Innovation of Japanese Designers. ”
After finally greeting Naotoshi-san, who has been kindly helping me with various enquires since my days back in California, I began my interview with the friendly owner Tokunaga-san with his help.
The Origin of FASCINATE:
Japanese Artisanal and Avant Garde brands have extreme qualities that are competitive to the ones of foreign brands. Furthermore, the talented Japanese craftsmen are expert in blending the exquisite Japanese elements into the design and production of the garments, hence Japanese brands often have an unique ambience that is heavily connected to Japanese vivid and glamorous culture.
As for the expectation of Japanese Artisanal brands, there are fewer and fewer young designers in the Japanese Artisanal circle. Therefore, I hope there will be more aspiring designers who strive to continue developing and promoting Avant Garde and Artisanal labels. Nonetheless, I believe it takes not only the designers’ effort but the entire Japanese clothing industry to unite and support each other.
The Opportunity to Establish a Customer-Oriented, User-Friendly Interface:
In the beginning, our site was quite simple and with few functions. However, most of the people who joint FASCINATE, like Naotoshi himself, were originally users of our service. Thus, with their feedbacks and ideations to create a refined and easy to use interface from users’ viewpoints, we were able to continue enhancing our platform to deliver a shopping experience that brings joy and amusement to our customers.
The Turning Point to Become Popular on Internet, and the Reason to Start Overseas Service Earlier than Other Japanese Select Shops:
As previously mentioned, the purpose of FASCINATE ever since we found the company has been promoting excellent and unique Japanese garments to the world. Therefore, we’ve been developing various plans to meet foreign customers’ need and strengthen our overseas delivery service. As for the turning point of gaining attention online, I would say it was after we began to carry almost full collection of DEVOA’s pieces season after season. Naotoshi actually joint us because of his passion for DEVOA’s design and garments as well. As more and more people realizing the unique charm on the internet, our foreign and online customers also have increased progressively. Also, in order to perfect our international service, the goal of FASCINATE this year is to work with other companies to enhance the customer experience.
As a Brand, DEVOA Must Has Influenced FASCINATE in Many Ways. Moreover, There are Probably Numerous Users Who Found Out About FASCINATE Because of DEVOA. The Reason to Carry DEVOA:
DEVOA ’s designer, Nishida-san, was introduce to us by another designer that knew both of us. About 6 month after we opened FASCINATE , Nishida-san visited our store with his first collection, and that was the first time we saw DEVOA.
Though there were only 5 pieces in this launch collection (a Shirt, a T-shirt, a Jacket, a pair of Pants, and a Hooded Jacket), we were FASCINATED with the unique materials Nishida-san used to create these beautiful garments. We were also impressed by the extraordinary form and amazing pattern work of the items. Moreover, by experiencing the garments and talking with Nishida-san himself, we recognized his passion and understood exactly what he wants to create to form DEVOA . Therefore, we decided to carry DEVOA and strove to share this astonishing brands to people all over the world.
After my quick interview with Tokunaga-san, I stayed in the store and explored all the FASCINATED garments with Naotoshi-san. Though I wasn’t able to stay for too long due to my packed tourist schedule in Osaka, I was amused by Tokunaga-san, Naotoshi-san, and the rest of FASCINATE staffs’ passion and dedication to create a fascinating platform that helps customers to experience the unique and glamorous world of these fascinating Artisanal brands. As I look back to my short Osaka trip, this bright but mysterious select shop definitely left a stronger impression on me than all the delicious food combined. Dear FASCINATE, I look forward to visiting you again soon.
Text: Kuo-Wei Lin
Photo: Yu-Wen Shih