DropX: StockX Exclusives - September 7, 2022

DropX™ Exclusive: Naotaka Konno Interview |MAGIC STICK

Tokyo-based brand "MAGIC STICK" incorporates street culture and music into high-quality daily wear. In conjunction with their collaboration items releasing on StockX, we interviewed the director Naotaka Konno. We spoke with Mr. Konno about his involvement in the street fashion scene, as well as his unique perspective and thoughts on this current project.

Tokyo-based brand "MAGIC STICK" incorporates street culture and music into high-quality daily wear. In conjunction with their collaboration items releasing on StockX, we interviewed the director Naotaka Konno. We spoke with Mr. Konno about his involvement in the street fashion scene, as well as his unique perspective and thoughts on this current project.

Please tell us how MAGIC STICK was launched and what the concept behind it was.

We launched MAGIC STICK in 2009. I had been working for a different apparel brand at the time, and although things like street wear was on the rise in popularity, there were not many clothes that I myself wanted to wear, so I wanted to try it myself. After I left the company, I had about a year to prepare, and I held a lot of events around Shibuya to get the word out that I was planning on doing something new. The reason why the brand name “MAGIC STICK ENTERTAINMENT” has the word “ENTERTAINMENT” in it is because I wanted to create something with a story based on an idea to entertain people, and not just events or clothes. After that, I went to the U.S. to spend some time to think and create a base, and then returned to Tokyo to present my first collection.

Do you feel that anything in particular has changed in fashion since your brands establishment and now?

I feel that the speed of consumption has become too fast. The original concept of the brand was not mass consumption, but to cherish and wear things for a long time. However, nowadays the cycle is repetitive, something appears and disappears, then it appears and disappears again. I think a brand is only a brand if it has longevity, and lasts something like 10 to 20 years. I feel that the mindset of creators, buyers, and the media has changed.

I see. Then, does this mindset of cherishing clothing grow stronger with MAGIC STICK day by day?

Yes, it has. I think logo items are iconic and good, but I’m a contrarian, so I want to make things that are different. I want to create something that is not just a logo, but a style of self-assertion.

Speaking of MAGIC STICK, the 22SS special lookbook featuring DJ KRUSH, MURO, and other Tokyo legends as models was very impressive. 

Originally, I had my eyes set on overseas markets, so at the time I was taking shoots with Travis Scott and inviting overseas creators and artists to participate in events. But when the COVID happened and I couldn’t go abroad, I went back to my roots and decided to look within the country more, and not just outside.

So the Corona disaster was a catalyst.

In the sense that it changed my perspective, it was a good catalyst. Because of it, I realized that there were a lot of great people around me. When I thought of people in Japan who could rival Dr. Dre, DJ KRUSH was one of them, and so was MURO. I thought it would be pretty cool if I could get them to appear with the KRUSH POSSE, a crew I was working with. I thought it would be great if I could book an OG who influenced my culture, rather than just a popular young artist. I am happy to have people I have always loved wearing my clothes, and to have people I used to admire and copy, wear my style, it’s a dream come true that I couldn’t have imagined.

What culture or scene are you interested in now?

Training and getting big (smiles). I am interested in training culture. I really like the stoic world of training, and getting the results that you put in. I think that a more street-focused training culture will link fashion and training in the future.

I see through social media that everyone in the EU, North America, and Asia is slowly making a comeback. I also enjoy seeing the shift in values that fashion and clothes has had as of recent. I also see it quite often now, but I find it interesting when unrelated cultures make connections.

When I think of Mr. Konno, the image of sneakers is still strong, but what kind of existence do sneakers have now? 

To me it’s no different to underwear (smiles). Like underwear, I wear it 365 days of the year, and they really are like a part of my body.

What sneakers have you been particularly attached to in your life?

In terms of memories, I have great fondness for NIKE’s AIR MAX plus and AIR TERRA HUMARA. I really liked NIKE in the early 2000s when the so-called Alpha Project was at its peak. As a teenager NIKE’s high-tech shoes were a shock to my youth. Nowadays my style has changed a little and I won’t wear them as much, I feel the quality of the shoes are so high that I can display it just as a piece to admire.

You have collaborated with NIKE on sneakers in the past. What was your most memorable experience with NIKE?

I remember when I was allowed to participate in the “VOTE FORWARD” project, in which a representative from each country was chosen to design an AIR MAX at AIR MAX DAY. I was allowed to visit the HQ in Portland, and it was a very memorable once in a lifetime experience. It was at that moment that I realized this was what I loved doing.

Did anything you experienced at that time have an impact on your own creativity?

In a positive way, I believe I learned how to mass-market things. Until then, I had always put 100% of what I wanted to do into everything I made, but this this opportunity helped me brush up a little more. I also learned a lot about the balance that is required with the creation of things.

How did you feel when StockX asked you to collaborate?

I thought it would be interesting, and a good opportunity for people from all over the world to see our products in a global marketplace. One of our plans was to sell clothes at a legitimate price and without logos, in the resale marketplace. StockX is a platform with a lot of windows of opportunity, with many users interested in sneakers and fashion, it made sense.

But even though it was a collaboration, you only made pants.

Yes, I think everyone thinks of T-shirts and tops when they think of collaboration items, but I’m a natural born contrarian (laughs). I didn’t want to make something that looked like merchandise. When I thought about collaborating with a platform where sneaker heads gather, I knew I wanted to make pants that go with sneakers. I also like shoes, so I take pride in making pants that can be easily matched with a variety of shoes at MAGIC STICK. I often see people who wear high quality tops and shoes, but their pants are mass-produced, low-priced items, so I wanted to change that.

Any specific points of focus with this release?

These jogger pants is a type I wear all the time too, and I can go straight to the gym, or even wear a tailored jacket with it. They are comfortable pants that are easy to match with other pieces. The other is an advance model that will be released inline next season, we utilized StockX brand green for the color, as green colored items are booming this year. We also made it a straight silhouette, so that it can be worn with a shirt, denim, or even jerseys, without looking like gym clothes. You can go anywhere with them, whether it’s to work or to sleep. The element of comfort is a key identity aMAGIC STICK.

-I see.

It was quite a challenge to sell a basic item without any hyped logos under the StockX brand and platform. But I’m excited to see how well people respond to it. If more people respond to this, I think people will rediscover the joy of fashion itself and not just the hype.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Houmi Sakata(TRON)

In collaboration with Tokyo-based brand ”MAGIC STICK”, a DropX exclusive run of limited items will be available March 23, 2022 (Wednesday) from 11:00pm EST.