Kazuki Kuraishi is one of the reasons we still have faith in the collaboration. Humble but remarkably talented, he knows everybody who needs to be known in Tokyo and has carved out his own lane as the go-to man to get it done. Having worked with Burton, BAPE, NBHD and visvim, he became affiliated with adidas Originals around the time of theexcellent BAPE collaboration in 2003.
That affiliation became something bigger in early 2009, when the first ObyO Kazuki releases dropped. Brands go around the houses (actually, they just seem to trawl the hype blogs) when it comes to channeling that next thing, but Kazuki acted as a conduit for releases with a whole brace of beautifully branded Japanese labels and sub-labels. The LUKER Neighborhood line? Naturally, with his affiliations with Shin and the gang in black? KZK was on that early. While we're talking about men in black, CASH CA - with Kazuki as creative lead - is killing it at the moment, with a distinctly British feel to the production, detailing and fabrics. It's more than just anglophile tendencies though - just as everybody decided to ditch print tees and dress like they were working the railroads, the KZK line was - despite working with retro models and some 1980's lasts and tooling - extremely technical. Little details can make or break a model, but the KZK line got them pitch perfect with the heel tape and print in unlikely places.
Conservative Campus designs flew out, but there were oddities too - the creeper running tech of the ZX Mocc was initially derided, but appreciated by some footwear designer types, astonished that adidas would put something so avant-garde out there. Then everyone suddenly started wearing brothel creepers. KZK was prescient like that. Late last year he debuted a collection with Burton and adidas Originals that played with a similar mix of eccentricity, archive looks and day-to-day performance, and once again, they were accompanied by some excellent apparel.
Beyond the foot, Kazuki's line has worked in some interesting reappropriations of adidas's athletic clothing - leather biker jackets, weatherproof outerwear and even a suit were part of the rollout. To coincide with the Burton and adidas Originals B. Snowboards range, we caught up with Kazuki again for a quick Q&A. Kazuki Kuraishi lets the product do the talking, so don't expect a hundred words a second, but he still dropped some interesting perspectives. There's more to come from adidas Originals and Kazuki this year, so keep the faith...
How did you become involved with adidas? Did you work on earlier projects like the BAPE Superstar or Neighborhood adidas projects?
My first contact with adidas was realized through Ian Brown who introduced me to a friend named Gary working at adidas UK. That friendship led to the creation of Super Ape Star.
We get the impression that the Campus is your favourite shoe - a Campus style seems to be a constant. Is that the case?
Once you come to like something, you are likely to stick to it for a long time. I have liked the shoe ever since my junior high school days. While people tend to keep liking their favourite ones, you have to think about the coordination of your outfit each time. Also, you feel like wearing different shoes depending on situation, and as such a cycle begins and ends occasionally, you know?
What are you most comfortable with - footwear or apparel?
Are you asking about a subject of creation? I would answer that I like everything about clothing.
How particular are you with regards to materials on the shoes and apparel, like the waterproof materials, leathers and suedes?
I feel that I am more familiar with apparel if anything, while I think there are less sewing techniques for shoes and their materials are also less outrageous. Among apparel materials, I especially like knit as well as laminated cloths typically used for rainwear. Recently I have been trying various materials such as laminated cloths lined with knit as well as using knit itself as an outer fabric.
Does some of the development of your latest shoes come from adidas Japan?
adidas does have a global creation hub located in Tokyo and this is the team I am working with in close connection to the Statement team at HQ Germany.
Why did the ObyO KZK line come to an end? Did you make the decision to end it?
For adidas it was time to create something new and work together with me in a different way. As I'm not only involved in product design but also in the trend marketing scene I'm always part of the team; the B.Snowboards collaboration was just one out of many projects I was working with adidas. There are more projects to come also including my own creations and designs for adidas again.
With shoes like the Winterball, were you working with completely new sole tooling especially for the B. Snowboards collection?
I really hope to make shoes starting with the development of new soles, but it's difficult due to issues related to units. So I ask manufacturers to find possible soles out of existing ones, which may be suitable for an upper. Then I make a choice from them.
Are there any specific shoes that inspired the Burton collection?
I really like the footwear called Winterball that adidas produced in the 1990's, which inspired me to try to create something close to it. As a result, my version of Winterball was born.
KZK was an interesting way to bring entities like WHIZ to a wider audience - have you got similar plans with the adidas and B. Snowboards products?
The B.Snowboard project was mainly a one off project with a great team and spirit so I will focus more on my own creations for adidas when bringing in other partners and friends.
A SELECTION OF THE FINAL KZK RANGE AND THE B. SNOWBOARDS COLLECTION IS AVAILABLE IN IN THE CROOKED TONGUES STORE NOW.