This article was originally published in「within 07 | THE CREATOR ISSUE」

--- Based on the concept that `clothes are tools, not costumes, as long as they are used for everyday wear,'' we eliminate the costume aspect of clothes and concentrate on their functionality, but the most important thing about clothes is their function. 

Also, is this a sustainable way of thinking?

Fujisaki: When you think about the original origins of clothing, it was first created with an emphasis on functionality.

I think it was meant to protect them from the cold and foreign enemies.

From there, ethnic groups, for example, invented clothing that incorporated aspects of costume to strengthen their communities. However, I believe that this was also part of "functionality."

I think there were various reasons for this, such as expressing status among ethnic groups and differentiating them from other ethnic groups.

Today's clothing has become part of the fashion business cycle. Even clothes that can be worn for a long time can become old after six months to a year. This industry has grown by getting people to buy new products. I think their business approach emphasized the costume aspect of clothing. But there is a limit.

meanswhile was born to propose new values to this situation.

I don't want to focus only on functionality, nor do I want to create something convenient.

We have set this concept up to help people understand our design philosophy, philosophy, and way of thinking.

I am convinced that this way of thinking itself leads to sustainability.

--- What defines the functionality of a garment in your eyes?

I know it's not just the material itself...

Fujisaki: To think about the functionality of clothes, we first need to know the purpose of the item.

Clothes for climbing mountains should be waterproof enough to survive rain, lightweight and easy to carry, and ventilated to release moisture even when wearing a backpack. You can see the functions.

It is this “purpose” that defines functionality.

--- I believe the brand name reflects your philosophy that `design is not an end, but a means.'' Could you explain that?

Fujisaki: This is a duplicate of the answer to the previous question, but the most important thing when making clothes is to first set a purpose.

We will choose the form and functionality based on the purpose. This act is called design.

However, when I try to make something cool, I design it based on reasons such as it would be cool to put tape here, or it would be cool to have a zipper here.

That's because the purpose is to design.

At meanswhile, we have carved our philosophy into our brand name so that we don't do things like this.


--- Nature is important to meanwhile, whether as a backdrop for the lookbook or as an inspiration as you call it.

How do the existence and functions of things in nature influence the design of meanwhile?


Fujisaki: I get a lot of inspiration from nature.

Plants, stones, insects, animals, etc. all take shape for various reasons.

I think considering the reasons for this has the most influence on our design activities at meanswhile.


--- Currently, many outdoor brands are making products that are too functional and are not suitable for everyday use. What do you think about the relationship between features and what you actually need?


Fujisaki: This is a very difficult question.

For example, if you consider spending time in nature rather than in a developed city, you may find that the products currently being produced by outdoor brands are not overly functional.

Human beings are very small compared to nature, and there are very few situations in which we can feel absolutely safe in relation to nature.

However, there are many over-spec clothes that are meant to be worn in the city. This is because even if clothes alone do not fulfill our functions, cities and buildings do.

Personally speaking, I always find myself suddenly wanting to go on a trip. I always carry a little extra equipment so that I can go whenever I feel like it.

The same goes for clothes, in order to seamlessly connect the outdoors and the city, it may be okay to go a little over the top. To achieve this, it is good to have both "design" and "function".

Well-thought-out functions will expand your daily life.

--- meanswhile's designs find the perfect balance between function and fashion without overemphasizing outdoor elements. How is this balance achieved?


Fujisaki: It is very important to maintain this balance.It's hard to understand without a diagram, but first, when making clothes, you set the purpose of the clothes.

There are countless paths to a goal, and choosing this path is design.If you go straight to that goal, the design will be similar to that of outdoor brands. By choosing a slightly different path, I balance function and fashion.


--- In 2022, meanswhile released its first sneaker "NEUTRAL RUNNER".

What is the difference between shoe design and clothing design? Do you plan to continue developing shoes in the future?


Fujisaki: As expected, the designs of shoes and clothes are different.

Since it actually comes into contact with the ground and has a place to absorb all the weight, it needs to be strong, and the sewing methods and materials used for this are also different.

There are many aspects that we don't think about when making clothes.

However, the design philosophy of meanswhile remains the same no matter what we create.

Until now, we had only made shoes through collaboration, but we were able to make this happen by adding a shoe designer to our team.

We plan to continue to do so in the future, but it is not yet decided how often this will occur.

--- The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way people dress, and many people have begun to pay attention to the essence of clothes. Do you think functional brands like meanswhile will become a trend in the future?


Fujisaki: This coronavirus incident has been experienced by all people around the world at the same time, and people all over the world have begun to think about the essence of clothing in the same way.

I think there is a good chance that this will become a trend.

However, I think it is a problem to digest the essence as a trend.

I think it is important that by becoming a trend, it will spread to many people, and that this way of thinking will become established even if it is only for a small number of people.


--- In addition to lookbooks, meanswhile also produces concept films for each season.

How do you generally get ideas and set themes for concept films?


Fujisaki: I have been working with the same team members for the past few years to create lookbooks and movies. We often share ideas for movies as well.

Stylist Masataka Hattori plays a central role in selecting directors based on the theme, and deciding on locations, shooting methods, etc.

There are times when we communicate directly to the audience through letters and sentences, and other times when we communicate indirectly through video stories and conceptual images.


--- meanswhile has collaborated with many brands such as Nike, Danner, and Masterpiece.

In a market where collaboration is popular, how do you define the essential meaning of collaboration? What do you consider important when choosing a collaboration partner?


Fujisaki: We have collaborated with various brands, and I think we were able to express all of them in a good way.

I believe that if we both have a solid brand concept, we will be able to offer new values that leverage the characteristics of both parties. What I look for in my collaborators is that they have a solid concept.

--- Last question.

meanswhile has established not only clothes and tangible products, but also the entire meaning while worldview, including concepts, philosophies, and values.

As a founding company, how do you express this worldview?

Fujisaki: Of course, creating products as a brand is important, but what meanswhile wants to convey most is the philosophy and ideals of the brand. We believe that customers who sympathize with this point choose Meanswhile products.

We make every decision in line with our brand philosophy, including when creating the space for our store and selecting fixtures for exhibitions.

Our main purpose is to convey this philosophy and ideals, so we believe that a worldview is created not only in clothes, but also in everything else that makes up meanswhile.