poweredby.tokyo along with Hypebeast and New Balance followed Daisuke Obana, founder and designer of Tokyo fashion imprint N. Hollywood around his favorite Tokyo neighborhood of Koenji to show us the people and places that inspired his work.
In ancient times, the Romans believed that every location had its own ‘genius loci’ a protective spirit that watched over a place, feeding energy into the atmosphere of the physical location, giving it character, and making it what it is.
Even if you’re not a believer of classical Roman religion, it’s a concept that perfectly encapsulates the diversity of Tokyo, a city that’s a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation of a hundred uniquely different cities in one.
There are few things that shape a person more than their environment. When it comes to unearthing the inner workings of some the world’s best creatives, learning more about their spaces they call ‘home’ - spiritually or physically - offers unparalleled insight into their inspirations, experiences, and cultural DNA.
Daisuke Obana is a legend of Japan’s contemporary fashion scene.
Having worked in the fashion industry for over three decades, first as a buyer then later running his groundbreaking label N.Hoolywood, he is a lover of the old, but an unstoppable innovator, the embodiment of Tokyo’s split personality.
To learn about just what makes him tick, poweredby.tokyo asked Obana to showcase which corner of the city that is of most significance to him. Although his showroom and atelier is based in Harajuku, the one neighborhood with the deepest etches in Obana’s heart is Koenji.
A tour of Obana’s Tokyo begins at N.Hoolywood’s Harajuku HQ, part laboratory for his fashion experimentations, part museum, it’s home to his personal collection of vintage clothes and military items, amassed from years of traveling across the globe.
You can trace N.Hoolywood’s lineage to The Lazy Cat in Nakano Broadway, it's a military surplus store owned by Obana's mentor. The N.Hoolywood you see on Paris runways and in glossy editorial spreads began here in some form, as ideas plucked from the history pages and infused with modern ideologies.
Nextdoor to Nakano is Koenji. “Whenever I’m in the mood to find something new, I make a trip out here and discover clothes that I never thought existed” explains Obana. It makes sense for a man who has built his career on vintage fashion to draw inspiration from a neighborhood with one of the densest populations of vintage stores in the world,
Rumor has it there are about 2,000 [vintage] shops in Koenji alone.
When it comes to Koenji’s vintage stores, every outlet is as unique as the person that runs it, “the owner is often behind every aspect of the shop’s operation, from the visual displays to customer assistance, to sales, they often even live upstairs,” explains Obana.
Often compared to other big city neighborhoods like Brooklyn in NYC, the comparison isn’t quite fair.
They’re both fashionable, sure, but there’s something to be said about Koenji’s deep-rootedness in the past, unperturbed by what’s on trend, and deeper interest in what’s, quite simply, good. Koenji’s got “its own unique vibe” as Obana puts it, it’s “slowly growing and establishing itself in its own way and on its own terms.”
A few minutes from the slick city lights of Shinjuku, Koenji’s ‘genius loci’ is unlike anywhere else in the world. A hive of free-thinking minds, with an undeniably Japanese mentality for hard work and an unwavering dedication to their craft.
Koenji is a really strange place.
Creative Director - Paul Heavener
Creative Producer - Elana Staroselsky
Producer - Chace Fedor
Production Assistant - Saki Ohashi
Director/Camera/Editor - Jeremy Rubier
Camera Assistant - Akira Rambeau
Photographer - JK Chekpo
Sound - Steven Lefever
Music - Jeremy Rubier
Editorial Design - Julie Guillot