E: This is a family business - you all are brothers. Who's the oldest, middle and youngest? What are your individual roles in the line and how do you find working together?
D: Yusuke is the youngest. He's the designer. Since he was very young, Yusuke has been drawing. Self taught in everything from oil painting to sewing, he learns from experience. Kensuke is the oldest, and he handles finances and production. I'm in the middle (Daisuke), and I handle marketing and management of the line.
Since we were very young, our mother raised us to be friends, so in a lot of ways our relationship feels easy and natural. We’ve always been this close all our lives. Pictured - from left to right: Yusuke, Daisuke, Kensuke. Yusuke's wife Mizuki, designer behind Black Barc, is pictured wearing Prospective Flow's mustard jumpsuit.
E: The three of you came here as young adults, but not to start a business. What made you decide to come to Los Angeles, then make the leap to start this enterprise together?
D: We didn’t come to the Unites States to do business. I came to the U.S. to study at Santa Monica College and play basketball. Yusuke came to play basketball as well and studied out of state. We finished junior college basketball, didn’t get a Division I scholarship, and decided we wanted to find our own separate interest. We didn’t know anything about fashion at the time, but Yusuke was a great artist and we were really young. We decided to try something new. Without any particular reason, we just went for it and called on our oldest brother in Japan for help. He was working a regular job in Japan, but he's the one who got our business off the ground, then joined us stateside two years later. That was 12 years ago - when we first started Prospective Flow.
E: I've been following your line for a while. In the last couple of years, it feels like you've hit a design stride that resonates with a lot of people. There's been a steady evolution, like all fashion lines, but PF has a distinct style and perspective. How would you describe 'Prospective Flow' as a line?
D: When we first started, we wanted to make traditional American fashion. It was on the conservative side and more mainstream. We made high-quality jackets, tailored pants and flannel shirts with regular fits. Behind all those pieces, there was always a Japanese influence and Yusuke’s creative influence. We made what we wanted to wear basically, but weren't ever sure if a particular shirt or pair of pants was going to be well received.
Then six or seven years ago, we found ourselves struggling and got close to closing our business. Instead of ending our line we decided to double down on Yusuke’s creativity and individualism, and push more of our Japanese influence into our main line. After that, all of a sudden, people started to understand us as a label and became interested in what we were trying to do. We started gaining a real fan base and followers, and it just took off.
E: The first piece of clothing I came to own from Prospective Flow is the 'Momohiki' and I still get stopped in the street whenever I wear them. My husband wears the same pair of pants, and they look great on him too.
D: The 'Momohiki' was definitely the first piece we ever developed that made us stand out. The 'Haori' was also released at the same time, and it drew a lot of attention. Zouhiki, Karu Pants, came after that success.
When we started designing the 'Momohiki' and 'Haori', it was unisex. But it happened naturally. We didn’t declare it was unisex, but as soon as we started making them, more and more women started wearing our clothing. It made us realize that our clothing was universal because everyone looked great in 'Momohiki' pants. Women in their 60's, men in their 20's - it suits all body sizes 'cause it's a wrap pants.
Fit is a big issue for a fashion brand so if your clothing can fit all types of bodies that’s a huge advantage. I’m kind of a buff guy, and even a very small person can wear the same PF pants as me. A baggy fit, or a slimmer fit, it can look good.
E: I know there's a special meaning behind the name of the line, 'Prospective Flow'. Why do you call yourselves 'Prospective Flow'?
D: The word 'prospective' implies what's coming next in the future. The word 'flow' made us imagine how time flows forward like a river. Our message is that everything we do first comes from our past and from our heritage. Like everything in life, there's always a connection between the past and present, and present and future. As a brand, and as brothers, we never want to stop making. We always want to move forward while remembering where we've come from in the process.
E: So there's obviously a Japanese influence to your line, but do you want people to feel like they're wearing Japanese clothing? Do you consider yourself a Japanese brand?
D: We can't create straight Japanese clothing. You don't wear a kimono and go into the street - that's a bit strange (laughs). We always put a European and American fit into Japanese traditional clothing, and that combination makes it very wearable and street, and suits all kinds of people.
The strength of our line is that it's versatile. People who love folksy, comfortable fashion can wear our clothing, and people who like street wear and hip-hop can also wear our clothing. That’s a huge range: all genders, all ages, everybody can enjoy our fashion. People who are in their 50s love our fashion. Guys who are 18 and listen to techno music love our fashion. It’s not too conservative, not too traditional, but not boring either. Since our line is so different, there’s no limitations on who can wear it. It blends naturally into the essence of that person.
E: In the beginning was it hard to be young guys from Japan starting a business?
D: Yeah, super hard. We didn’t know anything, and if you remember, 12 years ago the economy wasn’t great. It was very tough. It was a learning process.
Being Japanese felt like an advantage though because Japan in the fashion industry has a good reputation. Since we’re all from Japan, people from the United States and Europe were curious about what we were doing.
E: Can you tell us about "Mutsu"? What's the inspiration behind this line and how is it different from 'Prospective Flow'?
D: Mutsu is Yusuke’s art project. Strictly one of a kind art project. We believe his clothing can be art and wanted a platform for his creativity. He's a Prospective Flow designer, but this is another line within the brand that allows him to focus on his artist side.
Yusuke is influenced by Japanese boro culture. We got a saddle stitching machine from Japan, and started making different color variation patchwork that was similar to Japanese boro. He's extremely creative with patchwork, creating circle shapes, skull shape, etc. Around the same time he also started doing canvas art. Putting acrylic paint on canvas. Mutsu is still part of Prospective Flow now, but it definitely has a separate theme from Prospective Flow.
E: Prospective Flow seems to connect with lots of people now, and you're drawing a more artistic fan base with your new line, "Mutsu". Would you say your line is becoming more worldwide? Have you been doing any exciting collaborations?
D: Maybe people who have never seen Prospective Flow because it's fashion are introduced to us by knowing "Mutsu" first, which is more art focused. We also try to reach more people with our youtube channel so people can see how our one of a kind pieces are hand-stitched and hand-made. We get a lot of feedback from countries we never expected would know about PF through our youtube channel.
Collaboration is a key to any business. We sometimes collaborate with different retail stores, and Mutsu has collaborations with different artists. We've recently enjoyed collaborating with David Choe, who we met because he liked our 'Momohiki' pants. We do maybe two pieces a year with him for fun, to stay connected. We’ve also collaborated with Adam Rodriguez, Joel McHale, and Camilo.
E: What are your dreams and hopes for the future of PF?
D: We want to keep being creative and doing what we love to do. Hopefully in five years, Mutsu will be more well known, and Yusuke will become more established as a designer. We don’t have a dream to be so big or incredibly popular. We just want to keep doing what we love to do, stay healthy and stay positive.
E: When you're not designing and making clothes, how do you spend your time? What are you most looking forward to doing after Covid is over?
D: As brothers, we all love to watch movies. Not together all the time obviously, but on our own, we love to watch films. Eating. It kind of sucks we can’t go out to eat right now. Still playing basketball together, we still shoot around together. The oldest doesn’t play around much anymore.
Hopefully we won’t have any limitations after Covid. We can go out, hang out, play basketball, go to our favorite restaurants as normal. We don’t have big plans, but just get back to living life as we used to. That would be great.
Thank you Daisuke, and Prospective Flow, for letting us visit your studio! We certainly hope you keep the heritage flowing as you grow your brand.
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