VISVIM by Hiroki Nakamura

isvim is a Japanese fashion brand that was founded by Hiroki Nakamura, a Kofu, Japan born designer who grew in Tokyo. Having spent a great deal of his life traveling, Nakamura still calls his home Tokyo. His design education was not formal in many ways, but after spending eight years working with Burton Snowboards, Nakamura had a good idea of the kind of company he wanted to start in terms of ethics and production quality. The goal of the line is to provide high quality shoes and products that conform to both design and environmental standards set by Nakamura. The director Hiroki Nakamura established Cubism and launched VISVIM in 2000. He is a tough person and has the Japanese traditional craftman spirit. His sneakers are sticked to the natural material and their functionality and comfort are valued all over the world.Even Colette, the famous retail shop in Paris, deals in VISVIM sneakers. From 2010, Hiroki started to work as a designer of MONCLER, too. Because VisVam was a small brand to start, Nakamura’s approach has always been to work through collaborations and to provide his voice to as many publications as request. As such, he has appeared in more than 25 separate interviews with world press since the brand launched, sharing his vision while competing against larger companies that are much better established in the market. Each shoe produced by VisVim is approached as a single entity with a fresh slate. Often, designs are developed through outside influences and things Nakamura has seen. Often, he seeks the advice of his wide range of friends, a community of artists, musicians, writers, and designers to create new ideas. A good example is the Christo sandal, produced by VisVim as a reactionary product to the architectural works of Christo.

Nakamura was intrigued by the wrappings of monuments and natural formations in Christo’s work, seeing a natural connection with how shoes are designed. The sandal that he produced provided the same basic aesthetic, covering most of the foot with only a small strap revealing parts of the skin beneath. One of VisVim’s most recognized aspects is the stringent enforcement of quality control standards in every shoe created. Nakamura ensures each shoes is made with high tech materials and is as durable and long lasting as possible. In the same vein, the company attempts to use materials that are environmentally friendly.  Shops carrying VisVim products are located throughout Japan and in multiple countries outside. Long before Muccia Prada initiated “Made In” to educate consumers and designers about craftsmanship and artisan skills, Japanese designer Hiroki Nakamura used product education as a catalyst for his brand Visvim.

Releasing two collections a year each submitted with a dissertation, Nakamura’s idea is connected to an academic approach of discovery, emphasizing the new materials used in Visvim products as the central thesis for his corresponding collection. By using dissertations to communicate to customers, Visvim is one of the more honest fashion brands on the market, relaying a six-month product development cycle direct to the consumer.

Once a niche brand only available in select stores and nowhere online, Visvim’s dedication to archetypal design and its collaborations with Comme des Garçons, Dover Street Market and Isetan has earned the brand a cult following since it began ten years ago. Now battling counterfeit reproductions, all Visvim products (found most recently in Hostem, London) are sold with official hologram tags embedded with serial numbers. Part of Cubism inc, a Japanese design and development company, Visvim works within its self-coined “Free International Laboratory,” which allows the brand to move beyond its own 300 piece collections and collaborate with those that complement the label’s aesthetic platform.

The Visvim website, strays away from usual commercial online stores and features only a select few items from each collection. More content-driven then sales-oriented, uses journal entries from Nakamura’s travels, essays and video clips made at the label’s factories as well as excerpts from the collection’s dissertation. Having started with just one shoe style (the FBT, a hybrid mixing a traditional hand-sewn native North American moccasin, with a technical running shoe), Visvim now works within several design disciplines. Today F.I.L. is the base for an intimate in-house design team that works on women-wear, outerwear, accessories and travel goods, candles and perfumes, clothing and denim as well as selected collaborations. It appears that the education will never end for those seeking innovative and compelling design.