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Fashion

This Creative Director Owns A Dream Wardrobe Filled With Visvim Designs

In the fickle world of fashion, what keeps one repeatedly going back to a particular label through the years or even decades? For creative director Gian Jonathan, it all boils down to good old loyalty and a singular, dogged love for his chosen designer label Visvim – trends be damned. Here, we get him to turn the cameras on himself and (a portion of) his carefully amassed treasure trove.
What attracts you to Visvim?
“The feeling is a strange one, I think it’s started by my interest in vintage stuff, there is a certain charm in vintage stuff that you can’t really explain. Somehow Visvim has this same charm in its products. I also like the collecting aspect of it.” How were you first introduced to the brand?
“The first time I noticed the brand was because of the FBT shoes that my friend wore in school. I was thinking to myself ‘What is this pair of strange-looking shoes?’. Then she told me that they’re by this Japanese brand called Visvim. From then on, I started following the brand and became attracted to it.” Would it be accurate to say you collect only Visvim?
“Yes, strictly Visvim. I’ve tried to buy other brands but it’s just not the same, I will still end up not wearing Visvim. I shop for both new and second-hand designs – it doesn’t matter to me as long as I can get what I want.” How many Visvim pieces do you have in your wardrobe in total?
“Currently, I think it would be about 200 pieces. I used to have more but I’ve let go of those pieces that I seldom wear.” Where are some of the best places to shop for Visvim?
“Shopping online actually has more options compared if you buy the brand directly in its stores in Japan. Even when I’m in Japan, I still shop online. Grailed is an active site and has a good selection of products.” Tell us about the story behind the first piece you bought.
“The first piece was a birthday present from my wife (then girlfriend) during our trip to Tokyo. It was the brand’s 7 Hole ’73-Folk boots in sand suede. I remember that I was having a hard time deciding on what to pick out in the shop; I feel embarrassed about getting the sales staff to take out one item after another for me to try on. I really like the colour of those boots – I will keep them forever.” What are some of the most unique and treasured Visvim pieces in your wardrobe?
“This is a hard question so I will answer with items that I wear from head to toe.   My favourite hat from the brand is a huge straw hat that has been woven in a triangle pattern using mud-dyed straw. It’s a hard design to wear on a daily basis though it attracts much attention.   The reversible Gansu Kuba down vest is one of a kind. On one side you have the vintage African indigo fabric, and on the other side, you have cowhide suede that has been hand-painted using natural dye to achieve an uneven colour and texture. It’s filled with goose down, and the buttons are made using vintage silver conchos.   I also love the ICT Noragi Kofu jacket which is made with a patchwork of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. To me the pattern and the quality of fabrics chosen are unparalleled even till today. It really feels like it’s 100 years old. This first edition release is available in super limited quantities – may be just five or six pieces in total. This is my holy grail piece.   As for bottoms, it will be the Pastoral braces pants. Released in 2015, the pants are are an homage to vintage French moleskin pants. It’s distressed so naturally, it’s unreal. A lot of process have gone to this – it’s full of repair stitches, patches and damages. My only complaint is they have a huge patch on the butt that looks a bit funny. Extraordinary pants nonetheless.   My favourite pair of footwear is the ICT Virgil Kangaroo boots. They have released a lot of mud-dyed virgil boots throughout the years, but these versions with kangaroo leather were released only once in 2014, and to me, they have the best texture and colour. These are probably the pair of boots I wear the most. They’re even more comfortable than sneakers.” What are some of the most unique and treasured Visvim pieces in your wardrobe?
“This is a hard question so I will answer with items that I wear from head to toe.   My favourite hat from the brand is a huge straw hat that has been woven in a triangle pattern using mud-dyed straw. It’s a hard design to wear on a daily basis though it attracts much attention.   The reversible Gansu Kuba down vest is one of a kind. On one side you have the vintage African indigo fabric, and on the other side, you have cowhide suede that has been hand-painted using natural dye to achieve an uneven colour and texture. It’s filled with goose down, and the buttons are made using vintage silver conchos.   I also love the ICT Noragi Kofu jacket which is made with a patchwork of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. To me the pattern and the quality of fabrics chosen are unparalleled even till today. It really feels like it’s 100 years old. This first edition release is available in super limited quantities – may be just five or six pieces in total. This is my holy grail piece.   As for bottoms, it will be the Pastoral braces pants. Released in 2015, the pants are are an homage to vintage French moleskin pants. It’s distressed so naturally, it’s unreal. A lot of process have gone to this – it’s full of repair stitches, patches and damages. My only complaint is they have a huge patch on the butt that looks a bit funny. Extraordinary pants nonetheless.   My favourite pair of footwear is the ICT Virgil Kangaroo boots. They have released a lot of mud-dyed virgil boots throughout the years, but these versions with kangaroo leather were released only once in 2014, and to me, they have the best texture and colour. These are probably the pair of boots I wear the most. They’re even more comfortable than sneakers.” What are some of the most unique and treasured Visvim pieces in your wardrobe?
“This is a hard question so I will answer with items that I wear from head to toe.   My favourite hat from the brand is a huge straw hat that has been woven in a triangle pattern using mud-dyed straw. It’s a hard design to wear on a daily basis though it attracts much attention.   The reversible Gansu Kuba down vest is one of a kind. On one side you have the vintage African indigo fabric, and on the other side, you have cowhide suede that has been hand-painted using natural dye to achieve an uneven colour and texture. It’s filled with goose down, and the buttons are made using vintage silver conchos.   I also love the ICT Noragi Kofu jacket which is made with a patchwork of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. To me the pattern and the quality of fabrics chosen are unparalleled even till today. It really feels like it’s 100 years old. This first edition release is available in super limited quantities – may be just five or six pieces in total. This is my holy grail piece.   As for bottoms, it will be the Pastoral braces pants. Released in 2015, the pants are are an homage to vintage French moleskin pants. It’s distressed so naturally, it’s unreal. A lot of process have gone to this – it’s full of repair stitches, patches and damages. My only complaint is they have a huge patch on the butt that looks a bit funny. Extraordinary pants nonetheless.   My favourite pair of footwear is the ICT Virgil Kangaroo boots. They have released a lot of mud-dyed virgil boots throughout the years, but these versions with kangaroo leather were released only once in 2014, and to me, they have the best texture and colour. These are probably the pair of boots I wear the most. They’re even more comfortable than sneakers.” What’s one collection or particular design from Visvim you’ve always wanted to get but could not find?
“I’m very fortunate to own some pieces that I never even dreamed of having since I started this hobby. So I am pretty pleased with what I have now. But if I have to select one or two things that I still can’t find. I would love to find this PFD Gore-Tex parka from Spring/Summer 2013 with the Amdo cross pattern all over it. The best part is, I saw it in the store before but didn’t buy it then. Another piece would be the Black Bandana Free Edge shirt – that’s the only missing piece for my Black Bandana shirt collection” People often say Visvim is overpriced – how do you feel about that?
“I’d say both a yes and a no. It is expensive for sure, but once you touch the product, you know that the money is there. Some items involve a ridiculously labour-intensive process to make that if you see it you will understand why it will command that kind of price.” What is the most extreme thing you’ve ever done in the name of collecting?
“Unfortunately, I don’t have any exciting stories. But once, I needed to complete a deal in Hong Kong and then fly back home on the same day. But in the end, I couldn’t do it. I do check Visvim things online as regularly as someone who checks the stock market though. Is that extreme?” Do you have any tips for those who are new to collecting Visvim?
“Japan is definitely the cheapest and best place to get it (if you don’t count your flight ticket). Every year, there are a few travelling trailer events in Sendai, Hiroshima, et cetera. Usually, they’ll release some nice and very limited stuff but of course, the competition is also fierce.   I think the key to collecting Visvim is perseverance. Always keep a lookout and believe that one day that dream piece will come. Some pieces are so scarce and limited (only five pieces are made, for example) that even if you are willing to spend the money to pay at a resale price, you also won’t know where to buy it. But if you eventually find the one, don’t hesitate to close the deal.”