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Global Designer Spotlight: RYNSHU from Tokyo, Japan


Designer Yamaji at his Rynshu Collection

Designer RYNSHU with his RYNSHU Collection



Legendary designer RYNSHU chats with us about his new fashion collaboration with Will.i.am. 


By: Hina P. Ansari



When the opportunity to interview iconic Japanese designer, Rynshu (born Masatomo Yamaji) came across my desk I leaped, jumped and hopped. This design stalwart who entered the fashion scene during the iconic 80s, and since then expanded his collection into two separate brands, is now fresh off his debut launch of his first fashion collaboration with none other than Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas. Rynshu sits down exclusively with us and shares key moments of his career, his global fashion philosophy and the cultural history of his ever-evolving name change.







You started your debut as MA-JI in 1986 Tokyo Fashion Week. Considering the 80s fashion scene created the celebrity pop culture of the supermodel and fashion designers being on the cover of fashion magazines as well as mainstream news organizations, what was your experience being thrust into the spotlight during this iconic era of fashion?


Japan was an economic bubble in the 80s. I was delighted to make my debut, MA-JI MASATOMO a futuristic style, and was called the “Asian Gianni Versace;” however, I was determined to pursue my originality. I aimed at Masatomo Dou (Masatomo way) in order to differentiate from other brands.



What does MA-JI mean? I assume that’s a hybrid of your first and last name.


I founded MA-JI CREATION, a design company, in 1985. Of course I am Yamaji and this company name comes from “MA-JI”  [which] is my nickname.



What was your fashion inspiration during that time?


The Seto Inland Sea’s cloud, setting sun and waves were my inspirations. A neon, a building, a night sky…etc. in the metropolis…inspiration from the delicate and exquisite world of comfortable nature of a passing instant.



In 1992, you debuted your 2nd line Masatomo. How did that come about? What was the inspiration as the foundation for this particular line?


In that time, Jacqueline Degioanni, a chief editor of Vogue Paris Homme International, proposed that I should join the Paris Collection, changing the brand name to MASATOMO from MA-JI. She convinced me to go to Paris.


Will.i.am x Rynshu S/S 2012

Aaron Walton, Co-Founder of Walton Isaacson models in the WILL.I.AM X RYNSHU F/W 2013 from Paris Fashion Week



Will.i.am x Rynshu S/S 2012

Aaron Walton, Co-Founder of Walton Isaacson models in the WILL.I.AM X RYNSHU F/W 2013 from Paris Fashion Week



In 2010 you launched RYNSHU, what is the meaning of that name? What inspired you to create this line?


I changed MASATOMO to RYNSHU. In the Japanese traditional culture that I honor, men sometimes change their names when they evolve. “Tomo” in MASATOMO is pronounced “Rin” depending on [the] words. So I created the brand name, RYNSHU — which means “sail round the world” for ten years.



With the launch of your women’s wear line in 2011, having come from a solid menswear design background with your previous collections, what kind of woman were you envisioning when creating your womenswear collection? Is that also part of Rynshu?


It is important for menswear to incorporate a feminine aspect. However, the same would be said [for women]. I showed the mixture of men and women which delivered RYNSHU’s view of the world because the androgynous materials and styles are the comfortable parts of RYNSHU.







Have you found striking differences between dressing/creating for the male clientele and the female clientele?


There is usually an antagonistic contradiction realistically in men’s society, so an ultimate style is a black style. I find [that creating] a female line is fun because women’s style is free in society and I can choose any colors such as white or gold, and not be restricted in using other colors.



It’s unusual that one person directly oversees such detailed portions of your design world ie: scenario writing, costume design and creative design. AND you don’t have an assistant? How have you managed to do all of this? What is your time management secret?


My ideal has been making it work to the end all by myself in order to express my own world like Leonardo da Vinci; I looked up to him since I was young — when I was a chief designer of a major apparel company. I tossed off the different tasks stunningly even if they increase. I hoped to create a new genre, a film and a mascot character, etc.






How do you unwind?


I don’t until the collection is finished.



What part of the day best inspires you?


8:00 P.M.  to 10:00 P.M. (The times nobody is in my office)



Where do you gather your inspiration? From fellow designers, the public, your clientele, movies, music etc? 


All scenes in my life…a film…a customer…a beauty of nature.


Rynshu F/W 2012



Rynshu F/W 2012




Your menswear designs boasts incredible silhouettes and a wonderful experimental use of different fabrics.


I wish to express [the] men’s presence as if there’s always a grand occasion.

Who is the ideal RYNSHU man?




Rynshu F/W 2012




Can you name a few celebrities that have worn your collection?


A cosmopolitan artist, actors and actresses, etc. I cannot speak their names as I don’t have their permission.


How did your collaboration with Will.i.am come about?


I got an offer from Will and I was pleased to accept it to create WILL.I.AM × RYNSHU (high-end).



What was it about Will.i.am’s fashion philosophy that inspired you to work with him?


Will has a concept: “bring the future closer to us.” It is the same philosophy as his music.


What is the inspiration/storyboard behind this particular WILL.I.AM × RYNSHU S/S 2012 Collection?


It is the materials and colors that have been selected by Will; he wanted to dress himself in a pattern of RYNSHU in his own sense.



What US stores will be carrying the WILL.I.AM × RYNSHU S/S 2012 Collection?


Lior in Las Vegas, H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles and Jimmy’s in New York.



There has been a recent awakening of international fashion with various East meets West type of collabs as well as general awareness of cultural fashionable sensibilities across the world. Do you feel that the Will.i.am collab is another facet of this type of cross-cultural/cross-country collaboration?





Do you think this would have even been possible in the mid 80s?  


All is based on timing. I think it would have been impossible in the 80s because a collaboration does not exist unless the men respect each other.



What advice would you give to up and coming fashion designers/ designer students who are interested in following this career path?


The will to the profession is not to give up.



What was the best sort of advice you received when you started that you still hold today?


I majored in graphic design at Art University and I received a lot of wisdom in my studying. However, I followed the path to a fashion designer at the age of 23 because I was told that I was superior in drawing and a flash to everyone else.


You can see the news at the website, http://www.rynshu.com/.

We also have our own website, http://www.masatomo-paris.com/, you can see the movie news.



Photography courtesy of RYNSHU

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