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    RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
    TAKA KASUGA OF VEILANCE


    First created in 1989 to provide simple solutions to extreme conditions and challenges, climbers Dave Lane and Jeremy Guard established an outdoor company called Arc'teryx out of a basement in Vancouver, Canada. Inspiration for the brand came partly from the Archaeopteryx Lithographica – the fossil linking prehistoric reptiles to modern birds, and the brand's first and only logo. This direct reference to evolution has manifested itself in a continual drive over the course of three decades to perfect and refine outdoor apparel.

    Already sitting on the success and notoriety of their mainline, Arc'teryx made a pivot in the industry turning their attention to a special category of tailored outerwear in 2009. Veilance represents apparel specifically marketed to urban city dwellers that was able to reapply mechanics innovated for extreme outdoor conditions. More recently, after a decade of Veilance we sit down with the brand's creative director, Taka Kasuga to discuss the designer's own beginnings in Japan, as well as the design logic and evolution behind their products.
    CAN YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR JOURNEY FROM YOUTH, THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND THE PROCESS THAT LED YOU TO WANTING TO STUDY AND PRACTICE FASHION DESIGN?

    I grew up in a traditional family in Izumo, a small historic town in Japan. I always thought of design in similar terms to language: just as words are composed into a sentence, I was interested in how different ideas could shape and form an end design. I knew by age 14 that I wanted to become a designer, something that no one in my family had previously done.


    SOME OF THE GREATEST DESIGNERS, NOT JUST FROM JAPAN BUT THE ENTIRE WORLD, SHARE AN ALMA MATER. A LINEAGE OF SUCCESSFUL DESIGNERS HAVE STUDIED AT TOKYO'S BUNKA COLLEGE: KENZO TAKADO, HIROKO KOSHINO AND YOHJI YAMAMOTO, TO JUNYA WATANABE AND JUN TAKASHI, WITH MANY IN BETWEEN. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME AT BUNKA COLLEGE?

    The philosophy behind Bunka is to teach all of the foundational skills that lead to a holistic designer: draping, pattern making, cutting, sewing, etc. My first project was to drape a natural stone with muslin — first drafting it in a flat pattern and re-constructing it back to three-dimensional form. We were always pushed to hone our foundational practices as our creative abilities grew. Bunka was a great place to let creative impulses fly without constraint. For me though, I was much more interested in practical design that fit into everyday living. I struggled to conform to the expectation of designing over-the-top runway. Similar to good architecture, I've always believed that form and function need to be present in all design, including fashion.
    CAN YOU ELABORATE ON YOUR JOURNEY FROM YOUTH, THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND THE PROCESS THAT LED YOU TO WANTING TO STUDY AND PRACTICE FASHION DESIGN?

    I grew up in a traditional family in Izumo, a small historic town in Japan. I always thought of design in similar terms to language: just as words are composed into a sentence, I was interested in how different ideas could shape and form an end design. I knew by age 14 that I wanted to become a designer, something that no one in my family had previously done.


    SOME OF THE GREATEST DESIGNERS, NOT JUST FROM JAPAN BUT THE ENTIRE WORLD, SHARE AN ALMA MATER. A LINEAGE OF SUCCESSFUL DESIGNERS HAVE STUDIED AT TOKYO'S BUNKA COLLEGE: KENZO TAKADO, HIROKO KOSHINO AND YOHJI YAMAMOTO, TO JUNYA WATANABE AND JUN TAKASHI, WITH MANY IN BETWEEN. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME AT BUNKA COLLEGE?

    The philosophy behind Bunka is to teach all of the foundational skills that lead to a holistic designer: draping, pattern making, cutting, sewing, etc. My first project was to drape a natural stone with muslin — first drafting it in a flat pattern and re-constructing it back to three-dimensional form. We were always pushed to hone our foundational practices as our creative abilities grew. Bunka was a great place to let creative impulses fly without constraint. For me though, I was much more interested in practical design that fit into everyday living. I struggled to conform to the expectation of designing over-the-top runway. Similar to good architecture, I've always believed that form and function need to be present in all design, including fashion.
    UPON GRADUATING FROM BUNKA, YOU WORKED AT JUNYA WATANABE. WHAT DID YOU TAKE FROM YOUR TIME THERE?

    With Junya, I started out making samples and really learned the discipline of design. I was there when they began working with The North Face and Levis, which was my first real exposure to American workwear and influence. At that time collaborations had yet to become a common brand practice. When I gained experience with the pieces that people were actually wearing every day — t-shirts, denim, and sneakers — I wanted to be part of what's next, and one of the reasons that led me to New York.


    ARC'TERYX IS COMMITTED TO CREATING THE HIGHEST QUALITY PRODUCT IN OUTDOOR WEAR, BUT VEILANCE ISN'T NECESSARILY AN 'OUTDOORS' BRAND; WHAT'S THE CROSS FROM ARC'TERYX TO VEILANCE FOR YOU?

    Arc'teryx and Veilance both excel at applying performance design to different environments and end uses. While Veilance isn't specifically an 'outdoors' brand as you say, we are designing into climate solutions, giving the wearer freedom to do whatever they need to do unrestrained by the current weather.
    UPON GRADUATING FROM BUNKA, YOU WORKED AT JUNYA WATANABE. WHAT DID YOU TAKE FROM YOUR TIME THERE?

    With Junya, I started out making samples and really learned the discipline of design. I was there when they began working with The North Face and Levis, which was my first real exposure to American workwear and influence. At that time collaborations had yet to become a common brand practice. When I gained experience with the pieces that people were actually wearing every day — t-shirts, denim, and sneakers — I wanted to be part of what's next, and one of the reasons that led me to New York.


    ARC'TERYX IS COMMITTED TO CREATING THE HIGHEST QUALITY PRODUCT IN OUTDOOR WEAR, BUT VEILANCE ISN'T NECESSARILY AN 'OUTDOORS' BRAND; WHAT'S THE CROSS FROM ARC'TERYX TO VEILANCE FOR YOU?

    Arc'teryx and Veilance both excel at applying performance design to different environments and end uses. While Veilance isn't specifically an 'outdoors' brand as you say, we are designing into climate solutions, giving the wearer freedom to do whatever they need to do unrestrained by the current weather.
    YOU'VE MENTIONED THAT VEILANCE IS AN ART BASED IN SCIENCE. ELABORATE ON YOUR DESIGN PROCESS.

    We are reinventing industry standards by questioning them. Often times we are inventing our own construction methods and applying non-traditional progressive materials — which forces us to engineer original tooling and equipment that can only be found at Arc'teryx. There is a huge investment in engineering and the R&D process, which is why it can take up to three years to bring a concept to final form. Each Veilance product is the result of multiple layers of collaboration, which is how we became a leader in technical fashion.


    EXPLAIN THE ROLE OF R&D, IN BOTH FABRIC AND GARMENT PRODUCTION, IN YOUR DESIGN PROCESS AT VEILANCE.

    Long term innovation projects start three years in advance of release and are grounded heavily in material testing. Ideas come from looking at practical issues that people are facing, and we determine the type of product that will solve it. Each new style goes through a series of tests with our in-house equipment, where we're ensuring the material can stand up to various stressors. It is definitely not a one-time shot, and we can go through the testing cycle many times until perfected. Everything is prototyped and engineered at our HQ, which is rare in the industry.
    YOU'VE MENTIONED THAT VEILANCE IS AN ART BASED IN SCIENCE. ELABORATE ON YOUR DESIGN PROCESS.

    We are reinventing industry standards by questioning them. Often times we are inventing our own construction methods and applying non-traditional progressive materials — which forces us to engineer original tooling and equipment that can only be found at Arc'teryx. There is a huge investment in engineering and the R&D process, which is why it can take up to three years to bring a concept to final form. Each Veilance product is the result of multiple layers of collaboration, which is how we became a leader in technical fashion.


    EXPLAIN THE ROLE OF R&D, IN BOTH FABRIC AND GARMENT PRODUCTION, IN YOUR DESIGN PROCESS AT VEILANCE.

    Long term innovation projects start three years in advance of release and are grounded heavily in material testing. Ideas come from looking at practical issues that people are facing, and we determine the type of product that will solve it. Each new style goes through a series of tests with our in-house equipment, where we're ensuring the material can stand up to various stressors. It is definitely not a one-time shot, and we can go through the testing cycle many times until perfected. Everything is prototyped and engineered at our HQ, which is rare in the industry.
    WHAT SPURRED THE DECISION TO HAVE VEILANCE BECOME ITS OWN BRAND?

    Veilance has always been its own brand with unique design intentions, which is what we wanted our visual rebranding to show. 2019 marks Veilance’s ten year anniversary, and we wanted an identity that resonates with the fashion consumers seeking performance based design.


    SHARE WITH US THE IMPORTANCE OF VEILANCE'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GORE-TEX.

    Arc’teryx originally started building harnesses and hard goods for climbers. When the team transitioned into apparel, they needed a material that was waterproof, breathable, and durable. GORE-TEX checked all three. Back then the seam tape was very wide, but because we wanted to make outerwear as lightweight and breathable as possible, we came up with our own micro-seam construction. We coated a zipper with urethane to make it impenetrable to water. All of these little details can now be found throughout the outdoor market, but were originally developed at Arc’teryx by people relentlessly pursuing improvement. People on our team have been coming up with new solutions for years, or decades in some cases. That’s where inspiration comes from.
    WHAT SPURRED THE DECISION TO HAVE VEILANCE BECOME ITS OWN BRAND?

    Veilance has always been its own brand with unique design intentions, which is what we wanted our visual rebranding to show. 2019 marks Veilance's ten year anniversary, and we wanted an identity that resonates with the fashion consumers seeking performance based design.


    SHARE WITH US THE IMPORTANCE OF VEILANCE'S RELATIONSHIP WITH GORE-TEX.

    Arc'teryx originally started building harnesses and hard goods for climbers. When the team transitioned into apparel, they needed a material that was waterproof, breathable, and durable. GORE-TEX checked all three. Back then the seam tape was very wide, but because we wanted to make outerwear as lightweight and breathable as possible, we came up with our own micro-seam construction. We coated a zipper with urethane to make it impenetrable to water. All of these little details can now be found throughout the outdoor market, but were originally developed at Arc'teryx by people relentlessly pursuing improvement. People on our team have been coming up with new solutions for years, or decades in some cases. That's where inspiration comes from.
    IN PUBLIC OPINION, CHINA HAS BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO A LOWER QUALITY OF PRODUCT; BUT YET THERE SEEMS TO BE A RESURGENCE OF HIGH CRAFTSMANSHIP FROM SELECT CHINESE MANUFACTURERS. WHAT WAS THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS IN MOVING NON GORE-TEX PRODUCTION TO CHINA?

    Above all else, it is important that we engineer everything in-house from end to end, and then find the best manufacturing partner that has experience producing these specific types of technical garments, regardless of where they are located. There are few factories in the world who have proven that they can meet our quality expectations, and in these cases our Chinese partners have demonstrated superiority. We focus on skill over country of origin. At the Design Centre, you see both the Veilance and Arc’teryx teams experimenting with new concepts every day. Although we’re designing for different end uses, we share learnings between us which is translating to very innovative technical product from both brands.


    WITH THE NEW FAST + LIGHT COLLECTION, YOU SEEM TO BE FURTHER MARRYING BOTH TECHNICAL AND FASHIONABLE ASPECTS TO YOUR VERSATILE CLOTHING. WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS DECISION?

    Why can’t one product have multiple end uses, and highly function in all of them? This is the problem that we are solving with FL. Personally, I want to own and carry less, especially while travelling. Fast and Light is designed to transition between high output activity and every day wear, so you can tackle many needs with one outfit. There are so many brands that focus on one very specific end use, and we wanted to bridge this gap.
    THERE ARE RUMOURS OF VEILANCE OPENING ITS FIRST STAND-ALONE STORE IN ASIA. TELL US MORE.

    We are actually opening our first stand-alone store in Hong Kong later this year.


    HAVE YOU, OR VEILANCE, EVER CONSIDERED EVOLVING THE BRAND INTO A WOMEN'S OFFERING?

    We have, and are currently working on it.