Japanese label FDMTL has built a reputation for their contemporary take on indigo-dyed garments and “boro” patchwork style. They’ve also shown their design versatility by working with Vans, Medicom Toy, New Era, Danner and Sony to name but a few of their recent collaborators. We met up with founder Gaku Tsuyoshi for a quick chat on his recent trip to Kuala Lumpur.
So I heard you actually came to KL Fashion Week 2005, what was that like?
I was invited by my Japanese friend working for KLFW, so I came and stayed for like 3 nights but didn’t get to see a lot of KL. However, my first impression was the hot weather, so I thought it would be difficult to sell our jeans and outerwear. I also remember one of the guys at fashion week telling me that our treated denim might not do well in Malaysia because it looks dirty and people here like to wear clothes that look clean, like Gucci or other high end brands. It was my first time in Southeast Asia and that was my overall impression.
How has FDMTL evolved since you began back in 2005?
Back then I was really into jeans, more to classic style designed for the Japanese market. However, I started noticing the interest for our stuff outside of Japan due to the popularity of Japanese denim. It was around 2010 that I got into more varied indigo stuff and went more into boro/patchwork style.
So how would you describe the current FDMTL aesthetic?
FDMTL is a jeans and indigo brand, the keywords for us are denim, indigo and patchwork. The combination of those three elements is what makes FDMTL.
I would like to ask about the signature bell you have on your jeans, how did that come about?
The lucky bell originates from the island of Capri in Italy, and it is said to offer wearers protection. It was worn by American fighter pilots during World War II in hope they would be able to return home safely. So I had the idea that since our jeans are something you would wear over many years and not just one season, that having a lucky bell would protect the owner. It has become our signature now, but back in 2011 when I first did it the response wasn’t good as people didn’t understand it and wanted something close to classic denim detailing. However, I wanted to have this original design element and now people seek out our jeans because of the bell.
Can you tell me a bit more about your recently launched 3rd collaboration with Vans?
We launched two collection in June, one was exclusive to Europe and the other for Japan. I want to work with global brands, but in a local context. Now you can just buy anything from the internet, which is very different from 15 years ago. I used to be really into sneakers and really liked how each region had their own exclusives, but it was around the year 2003 – 2005 that I noticed that everything was becoming more globalised, and that made sneaker collecting boring for me. That is kind of why I wanted to make something different and exclusive.
Thanks to Gaku-San for the interview opportunity, later this year, FDMTL will be moving their flagship store from the Meguro to Ebisu area of Tokyo.
You can purchase FDMTL products in Southeast Asia at: Isetan The Japan Store (@isetanthejapanstore) in Malaysia; Upperground (@uppergroundbkk) and Pronto (@prontodenim) in Thailand; and Robinsons (@robinsonssg) in Singapore.