Interview With Hitoshi Ikeda from weber: His Insatiable Love of Vintage Clothes and Sentiment Towards Dai T-shirt Ten

weber—that holds pop-up stores mainly in Tokyo’s commercial buildings instead of having its own . Among the brand’s once or twice a year events, its pop-up store event, “大Tシャツ展” (Dai T-shirt Ten)—where a slew of vintage T-shirts is displayed—garners the most attention.

At the event, more than hundreds and nearly a thousand T-shirts of different genres—primarily films, music, and art—will be sold. There will be rare T-shirts that cost hundreds of thousands of yen in value, but the event welcomes not only for those who are willing to purchase, but also for those who want to enjoy seeing the vast lineup of items that will not be found anywhere else.

To mark the opening of “大Tシャツ展” (Dai T-shirt Ten)—that will be taking place at TOKiON the STORE in MIYASHITA PARK located in Shibuya, and TOKION online store (which can only be accessed during the hours when the store is closed: 9PM – 11AM) from June 17th to June 30th—we conducted an interview with the man at the helm of weber, Hitoshi Ikeda, looking back on the past achievements as well as unveiling his motivation towards the event.

――When did you first get into vintage clothes?

Hitoshi Ikeda: It’s when I was in high school. Back then, vintage clothes were in, and I basically followed the trend. As I was a student, I didn’t have much money, so I went to stores like Chicago where they sold clothes with reasonable prices.

――Did you then already have strong feelings attached to T-shirts?

Ikeda: Not really, since I’m from Hokkaido, T-shirts didn’t really mean much to me. I got into T-shirts after I started going to college in Okinawa. There used to be a really cool vintage shop at Kokusaidori, where I went all the time to look for skate and rock tees. I was able to deepen my knowledge on T-shirts through talking to the store owner and became even more fascinated with the clothing item.

――What part of T-shirts captivated you?

Ikeda: I used to like the ones with graphics as they simply look good and make up the entire outfit. It’s like, if you wear one, you’re all good to go. In a way, graphic T-shirts harness a power equivalent to that of a brand.

――I heard the name, weber, comes from the name of the photographer, Bruce Weber. Bruce Weber related vintage tees have always been high priced, but anyway, how did you find out about him?

Ikeda: The hairdresser at the salon I used to go right when I became a working adult was into vintage clothes, and he was wearing a T-shirt of Bruce Weber’s Summer Diary. When I saw the shirt, I was like, “what is this? It’s insanely cool,” and from then on, I gradually became a fan of the artist.

――I heard Bruce Weber liked weber’s post on Instagram.

Ikeda: I’ve set some goals when starting weber in 2018: They were something like, “I’m going to make weber popular on the first year! I’m going to work with Bruce Weber on the third year!” Those dreams haven’t come true yet, but I’m happy with the fact that he might be acknowledging the brand.

Many years of admiration for vintage clothes was the impetus for starting weber

――So what made you start weber?

Ikeda: Ultimately, since my encounter with vintage clothes, I’ve never been interested in anything else, and I’ve always been in love with them—And that hasn’t changed even after I became a working adult. I went to more vintage shops after I graduated college and started working in Tokyo in 2001.

――For T-shirts?

Ikeda: Yes. I went to Koenji or Harajuku almost every week. In 2011, I changed my job and started working at ZOZO, but I was still into vintage clothes; I was constantly buying and selling clothes, thinking that one day I want to open my own vintage shop. Then, in 2018, the company started allowing side jobs; I spoke to my boss at the time, who now operates weber with me, about what I was envisioning, and he encouraged me like, “you should do it,” and things started moving forward from there.

――So you started weber right after the company allowed side jobs.

Ikeda: I opened weber on April 1st, 2018. I actually wanted to open it on Bruce Weber’s birthday, which is March 29th, but I couldn’t get a hold of the venue by then. It was a one-day event selling mostly the ones I bought and stuff that my friends let me sell on commission. There were about 300 items in total, and the lineups aren’t so different from now.

――Since then, you occasionally do pop-ups—so, how did you extend your business?

Ikeda: From the first time, I was able to sell a whole bunch probably because of the potent powers of the products, but I’ve also been blessed in the people around me. Back then, weber’s Instagram only had a little more than 100 followers, but [Ryohei] Matoba from offshore, who I’ve known from before, mentioned us in his Insta-story, and stylist Tsuyoshi Nimura, who saw the post, kindly came out to our pop-up. Mr.Nimura has then just became the advisor of Hibiya Central Market, and asked me if I were interested in doing an event using a corner space in the store. About two months later, when we did our second pop-up there, it was published in the media; and we were able to gain more recognition by doing events occasionally at the Central Market.

The upcoming “大Tシャツ展” (Dai T-shirt Ten) with a vast array of movie-themed T-shirts

――It’s been about a year since the last “大Tシャツ展” (Dai T-shirt Ten)—can you tell us about the lineup for the upcoming one?

Ikeda: We prepared about a thousand T-shirts, and we’ve especially collected a lot of movie tees. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I think there’s not a single place in the world, where you can find this many movie tees in one place.

――What would you say is your most favorite T-shirt out of this collection?

Ikeda: There’s a lot, but I like the “American History X” T-shirt and “Memento” T-shirt. I got so excited with the “Rain Man” T-shirt as I’ve never found one before even though I’ve been collecting movie tees for a long time. There are a lot of items that I won’t be able to find again, so I don’t really care if they aren’t sold.

――What is your favorite movie?

Ikeda: That would be “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, which I happen to watch when I was still in college. Back then, there were only like three TV channels in Okinawa, and the film was broadcasted on TV late at night, and I couldn’t stop watching all the way to the end—I still profoundly remember it. For this event, we have two shirts of the film, but I’ve never seen them anywhere else. To be honest, I don’t want to sell them [laughs].

――You also have T-shirts of films from after the 2000s.

Ikeda: Yes. For example, we have the T-shirt of “Isle of Dogs”, which is a film that came out in 2018; we try to select anything we think is cool regardless of how long they’ve been around.

――With T-shirts, not only could you be wearing them simply because you like the printed motifs, but also, you can fall in love with the original sources of the graphics from looking into where they came from.

Ikeda: I hope we can provide people an opportunity to find new entertainment pieces. Since, nowadays, people spend more time at home.

――Can you also tell us about the other ones other than the movie tees?

Ikeda: We also brought a lot of Bruce Weber tees. There are also T-shirts of music and art companies. But I’d say we don’t have a lot of those so called “rock tees.” We have a lot of tees with reasonable prices and that you wouldn’t see others wearing. I hope people can enjoy the vintage clothes’ unique “one-and-only” trait, and the experience of “digging” the perfect one for you out of the many.

Doing “something that other stores don’t do” and “selling our favorites”

――Prices could surge with vintage clothes, too, for example with a certain band’s T-shirt becoming expensive due to its genre’s sudden popularity. How do you take on such changes in trends?

Ikeda: Honestly, I’ve never thought about it. I haven’t seen many stores with piles of movie tees, but in my case, my movie T-shirt collection became big as I’ve liked them for so long and kept buying them. We come up with a concept for each event: In the past, we did one presenting tees with different kinds of letters and typographies, and another time, we only had art-related items—so consequently, we don’t abide by trends, and we just put out whatever we think is “fun.”

――So, it all comes down to “doing things what other stores don’t do,” and “selling things you like.”

Ikeda: With movie tees, too, I’m not buying everything I find, and I’m only selling the ones “I like”—so, I’ve always stuck to my principles. I’m not much of a fan of horror movies, so I don’t have that many horror movie tees, and I honestly didn’t understand what’s so good about the “Predator” T-shirt, which is popular abroad. Also, people judge the quality of vintage clothes depending on “how great the tag is” or “how great the stitches are,” but my selection is simply based on whether “I like it or not,” or whether “I think it’s fun or not.” Even with the ones that are relatively new and young with their values yet to be established, I will still buy them if I think they’re cool. weber is half for fun and half for business, so if they don’t sell, I can just wear them [laughs]. In other words, weber is so personal to me, so I’m extremely happy when we see people supporting us, enjoying and resonating with what we do.

――You have a good spirit like, ‘if not I can wear them.’

Ikeda: The reason why we are able to collect this many items is because, financially speaking, we don’t have a physical store, so we don’t really need to worry about the maintenance cost or hired labor cost; we can spend money on whatever that makes us go, “WANT!” We could also be buying something for 500 dollars thinking like, “we’ll just sell it at 550 dollars,” so that we’re not completely losing benefit here [laughs].

――Finally, again, please give us a shout out to the readers about the upcoming “大Tシャツ展” (Dai T-shirt Ten).

Ikeda: As we’re still under rough circumstance, it’s hard to say it out loud, but we truly hope people enjoy the event online and at the store. I think it would be fun even just to see these T-shirts, and a great place to discover new things and something you could immerse yourself into.

大Tシャツ展 (Dai T-shirt Ten)
Date: June 17 – 30
Venue: TOKiON the STORE
Address: MIYASHITA PARK 2nd Floor, 6-20-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Time: 11:00 – 20:00 (TOKiON the STORE) / 21:00 – 11:00 of the next day (online store)
*The date and time may change due to the state of emergency.

Translation Ai Kaneda

author:

TOKION EDITORIAL TEAM

Born in Tokyo in July 2020. With the theme of “The message of Japanese cutting edge culture to the world," We have been working in music, art, photography, in addition to all genres of culture, including fashion, beauty, and food, the social stance to communicate with readers. And digital media, magazines, e-stores and the concept store "TOKiON the STORE" opened at RAYARD MIYASHITA PARK. We will transmit information from Tokyo, the center of Japanese culture to the world.

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