Men’s Fashion Leader
Nick Wooster Answers 10 Questions
THE ONITSUKA: Producer of Onitsuka Tiger’s line of dress shoes.
This spring, THE ONITSUKA carried out a collaboration with men’s fashion leader Nick Wooster. For many years Nick has been an icon and leader of the men’s fashion world with a style fusing street with the classic. Here we ask him about fashion and the story behind the style he has developed.
Your title, in a word?
“I use the term ‘free agent.’ That may be a unique way of restating ‘freelancer.’ The idea is that I’m able to work with brands and companies of various countries. This is the best method for me to express my life.”
Who’s your fashion icon?
“I’m often asked about fashion icons, but I don’t have one. Instead, I concern myself with every person on the planet. Whenever I look at someone, the first thing I do is check what the person is wearing. Then, while bearing those clothes in mind, I give free rein to my imagination, wondering about things such as what kind of item the person might want to have, or what kind of item to make in a different collection. After that, my approach is to absorb everything about everyone and take notice. So, airports, streets, restaurants, movie theaters, hotel lobbies and so on all become sources of inspiration.”
What hard-and-fast rule do you have concerning fashion?
“Not having that kind of rule is my rule. I hate dress codes, and being told that things have to be a certain way. I have no rules.”
When did you develop your own style?
“When I was five. Actually, it seems that even before I turned five I was particular about the feel of clothing. As a kindergartener, my mother couldn’t make me change clothes. In primary school, I wasn’t happy unless I could make every decision about what clothes to buy and what to wear when leaving home. So, Ivy League is the basis of my style. Now, I think few people would describe my style as traditional, but the things that interest me are all born of classic styles, and I come up with items on that basis. That’s the reason I like Japanese fashion, the way it remakes what is classic. To me, that’s the most interesting way of dressing and of being.”
What items do you always carry around with you?
“I have a lot of essential items. But, I try not to give the impression that I’m carrying a lot of things around with me. So, the crossbody bag is an extremely important item. Also, pockets. The way I see it, carrying around nothing is the right approach, so in menswear pockets are the most important element. I carry a lot of luggage when traveling, but when walking around town or attending meetings, I want to go empty handed and make it appear I’m carrying nothing.”
Which THE ONITSUKA item do you like best?
“There are two products I think are particularly wonderful. One is the brogue. I like wingtips, and as I felt that THE ONITSUKA makes extremely good brogue shoes, I made the BROGUE CHUKKA for this collaboration. The other one is a beautiful silver leather tote bag that I think people will develop a taste for. Brogues and tote bags are two fashion-standard items that can be used on any occasion, good three years ago, good three years from now. To me, that’s the fascination of THE ONITSUKA.”
How does Tokyo fashion style differ from Milan, Paris or New York?
“Tokyo fashion is different from American or European fashion. I think the difference lies in the attention to detail. To me, Japanese are the most ardent students in the world. They study, they learn, they appreciate history, and understand when, why and how things have occurred. Then they take the next step and update things. In a sense, this is also what I’m trying to accomplish.”
What do you do to take care of your body and your health?
“Working out in gyms is my only daily routine. As a rule, I try to work out six days a week, and I try to stick to that routine even when traveling. It’s especially important in places like Paris where I have a busy schedule. There’s room for improvement in my diet, and I take a lot of supplements. The three things I can control at my age are workouts, diet, and supplements. Everything else is beyond my control.”
Your job involves a lot of decision making. What’s at the core of that?
“I consider myself without question a decisive person. But in my experience, not even the smartest creator can ever do his job all by himself. I have a friend who worked with Steve Jobs at Apple, who has told me that Jobs constantly demanded that people speak their minds. Jobs basically never changed his mind based on what he heard, but he really wanted to know what the people around him were thinking. In a way, I’m like that too. I have my own solutions, and those solutions tend to be 70-80% correct, but not 100%. I always want to understand what other people are thinking.”
“And in most cases I’m adaptable. Precisely because I’m aware that I don’t know everything, I believe it’s important to listen to people. Listening is equally important as speaking. And if I fail, that’s OK because I can learn something from it. Mistakes are an essential part of the process.”
What do you want to accomplish in 2023?
“Clearly, our lifestyles have changed since 2020. 2023 is off to a better start than in 2022, and to me in a way 2022 was better than 2021. I want to approach the uncertainties of the future with cautious optimism.
Nick is the kind of person who derives inspiration from everything he encounters and who updates and refines his own style while soliciting the opinions of others around him. Respecting the collaboration with THE ONITSUKA, rather than studying the brand’s history and producing something on that basis, he says he has been mindful about imbuing the products with his own essence.
The highly anticipated THE ONITSUKA x NICK WOOSTER CAPSULE COLLECTION goes on sale in all THE ONITSUKA stores starting on March 17, 2023.