On June 17, the event dubbed “The Pool Shinjuku” opened at Isetan Shinjuku in commemoration of the time-limited “The Pool Aoyama,” which will close next spring after two years. For the event located on the first floor of Isetan Shinjuku, a billiard table is set up.

The stylish pop-up directed by none other than designer Hiroshi Fujiwara welcomes brands such as Stussy and Assemble to create a world of Tokyo street fashion. Fashion Headline interviewed Fujiwara in line with the opening of the event at Isetan.

Fashion Headline (FH): The time-limited concept store “The Pool Aoyama” opened in April 2014. What led to this project?

Fujiwara: When I travel abroad, I often see the buildings of old pharmacies and grocery stores reinvented as cafes and other hip places. However, in Japan, old buildings are usually torn down. I was looking to revive such old properties in Japan and had asked my friends to be out on the watch if anything interesting pops up. When I first saw the space in Aoyama, I knew that this was the place to start my next project. The space had an old pool, which I wanted to make good use of. The place was a big mess though.

FH: Did you come up with the idea for the concept store from the beginning?

Fujiwara: At first I thought of making it a free gallery space, but then decided on a retail space instead. As the space included a pool with a slanted floor, I had to redecorate by adding glass to the lower side to even out the balance. Afterwards I decided that the floor covered with glass would be the space to hold temporary events and the original floor, the retail space.

FH: How did you come up with the first theme “White”?

Fujiwara: The pool led me to the image of white right away. Initially I had intended on creating a select shop, but the timing was not suitable for purchasing items overseas to be delivered, so I decided to design the items myself. I wanted tourists to visit the store too, so I made sure that there was a wide lineup of gift products. I made items with the image of tourists purchasing fashionable items at Colette in Paris so that my collection didn’t end up being the typical gift selection where T-shirts would have catchy logos. I wanted tourists to make The Pool a must-go destination.

FH: It seems that you didn’t take the orthodox Japonism or “Wa” approach.

Fujiwara: I ended up working with mainly Tokyo brands, but that wasn’t my goal. It just turned out like that. I don’t see a huge difference in fashion styles and brands across countries, and I don’t like the concept of “Japanese” collaborations. Especially denim decorated with Japanese pattern embroidery or prints of Japanese ideas.

FH: I feel that the lineup at The Pool is comprised of basic items. Do you design the items with the image of wearing them yourself?

Fujiwara: Since I like to wear simple items, my designs tend to be this way. There are times when I want to wear something ornate, but I rarely design something that I can imagine myself wearing.

FH: What are your thoughts on normcore fashion styles?

Fujiwara: I don’t place any importance on the term normcore. The styles themselves are fashionable so I don’t see the point in placing a name to them. I feel that the people using these terms do not understand real fashion.

See Part 2 for more.