Since founding Visvim in 2000, Hiroki Nakamura has garnered a reputation for combining traditional techniques with modern technology to create some of the most iconic streetwear pieces of the last decade. To celebrate the brand’s ten year anniversary, Dover Street Market is currently exhibiting a selection of vintage workwear from all over the globe, taken from Hiroki’s personal collection. Many pieces are displayed alongside the specific Visvim products that they inspired, providing a fascinating insight into the creative process of the cult label. On the afternoon of the exhibition’s launch, Nakamura discussed with Wonderland the influence these classic pieces have had on the label, as well as its future.

Take us through the exhibition’s concept.

Well, this is just a selection I wanted to share with my supporters and my customers: my process together with the product. So the pieces I’m showing to the left of the store are vintage archive stuff that I got inspired by, then to the right are my product, which is the output from that inspiration. So I wanted to put them next to each other to show the process of one thing, and to make sure… there’s actually a kind of self-checking [process] going on – that I’m checking on myself to make sure that the product I’m making has enough strength. I think vintage pieces have a lot of strength and power, I’ve been drawn to them. Through our work at the company, I’m trying to find what these strengths are that draw me towards the vintage stuff, and I’m then trying to make a piece which has a similar strength and power.

Is there a unifying aim in making these improvements?

I do use many different things and take many different approaches. For example, these Navajo Indian Moccasins from 1800 – the time was different, everything was different from when I made this shoe, the FBT Folk, in 2006. The time’s different, everything is different, but I still wanted to take the meaning or the spirit, and then add whatever I can do better in 2006 to them. That’s kind of my goal. I’m not trying to do exactly the same thing, because it’s impossible. I mean, you can spend the time and effort to make an exact copy of that product, but that’s not my goal. My ultimate goal in 2012: I want to make something that I can do better [than they could in 1800].

To maybe one day be seen as classic in the same sense as this vintage clothing?

Yeah, maybe like after a hundred years or two hundred years, when they look back, maybe they can say “in 2012 they were making good products too.” That’s something that I want and it’s a very simple goal.

So what’s set for Visvim in the future?

Even now, I cannot produce some of the pieces even from when I started. I cannot make the same product with the same price as ten years ago when I started. Everything is changing. But I think an important thing is that I want to be real, and I’m just trying to be open to my supporters and customers: “this is what I can do best now.” I think most of my customers understand that, and they’re looking for the same thing.

Visvim’s 10th anniversary exhibition runs until the 6th of May at Dover Street Market, London.
Words: Barny Smith