Kozaburo Akasaka is the epitome of creative globalness. Born and brought-up in Tokyo, educated in London and now based in New York City. And every inch of his journey is shown in his clothes. The artisanal approach which is so key to Japanese design and an androgynous, progressive vision of masculinity which is definitely a London signature, are both finished off with a commercial-savvy brain. And nothing says NYC more than a brain for business. But Akasaka’s layered influences don’t seem contrived – his view on fashion is as genuine as they come.
His brand Kozaburo was launched in 2011 in London after his BA Fashion at Central Saint Martins. Not long after, he moved to New York to do a Masters at Parsons. In his first year, he showed as part of the VFiles show. His Parsons graduate collection of artisanal denim kick-flares and heeled disco boots was bought by the NYC branch of Dover Street Market. His designs have a sustainable undertone applying his precision to zero-waste repurposing techniques to vintage denim and second-hand textiles, while the powerful silhouettes reflect a fearless love for fashion. The potential of KOZABURO as a brand and a business is what makes this LVMH-finalist special – it’s that new menswear pathway so many try to follow, but only a few succeed. And we count on Kozaburo Akasaka to be one of those few.
Here’s Kozaburo Akasaka’s Because Passport application:
FULL NAME: Kozaburo Akasaka
DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH: 28 November 1984 in Tokyo, Japan
BRAND: KOZABURO (menswear)
BRAND’S DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH: London, 2011
CURRENT LOCATION: New York City
What are the places in London, New York or Tokyo we have to visit?
Yanaka area in Tokyo is where my home is, and it’s one of those areas where you can still experience traditional Japanese architecture and a calm atmosphere in contrast with the bustling mood of other areas in Tokyo.
Japanese, British or American food?
Japanese food. At the end of the day, I will always opt for rice and noodles.
Favourite expression in Japanese/English:
It’s the Japanese saying “襤褸を着てても心は錦” [Boro wo kitetemo Kokoro wa Nishiki] meaning “Dressed in rags but with a heart of gold” in English.
Do you feel more like a Japanese, British or American designer?
I was born and grew up in Japan and do identify as a Japanese designer. However, the places and cities I've spent time in influence me equally.
Is the feeling of belonging to a place/nation important to you?
I don’t feel like belonging is as important as the memories and time spent in each place.
Follow Kozaburo Akasaka through Instagram at instagram.com/kozaburoakasaka. The finale of the LVMH Award is being held on 16 June at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. Find out more about the finalists at lvmhprize.com.
Text by Dino Bonacic; Portrait by Tyler Kohlhoff and campaign images by Michael Ray Ortiz