“I think probably most of you, when you arrived here tonight, were wondering what the hell you were doing here.”
Dirk Standen, editor-in-chief of 23 Stories, was addressing the crowd gathered for dinner in the back garden of the Waverly Inn on Tuesday night. If they weren’t puzzled before his speech, they were now.
“The main reason you’re all here is because you all have kikonashi,” Standen continued, before offering an explanation for the Japanese term, which doesn’t have an exact English translation. “To wear something well, to assemble an outfit that perfectly expresses your own personal style and suits you more than it would any other person. In other words, you’re all very, very cool.”
Standen was acting as an ambassador for Condé Nast, which was hosting a dinner to celebrate and promote the U.S. launch of Japanese app Wear. Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Brandon Maxwell, Gigi Burris, Adam Selman and Maria Cornejo had all come out to learn more about the app, which launched in Japan in 2013 and is embarking on an aggressive promotional push in the U.S. through fashion influencers and partnerships with various outlets.
“We’re really excited about the U.S. I think the love for fashion and love for clothes is universal,” said Wear’s product manager and dinner cohost Masahiro Ito. Founded by “eccentric billionaire” Yusaku Maezawa, the app is run under parent company Start Today, which is the third-largest fashion company in Japan and valued at more than $5 billion. (Start Today also owns Zozotown, Japan’s largest fashion e-commerce site.) Wear boasts seven million monthly active users in Japan, who upload photos of their daily outfits — the app clocks in 7,000 posts a day. Just in case attendees got inspired during dinner, Wear provided everyone with their own Instax camera.
“Wear can do a lot. It’s like an Instagram for clothes, but we really drill down deep for fashion. It’s for fashion hobbyists, people who love clothing and they spend most of their salary on clothing. That’s who our customer is,” Ito continued. “We want people who love clothes, who love fashion, to be inspired on the app.”
Based on his explanation, it seems he had assembled just the right crowd.
Masahiro Ito, Prabal Gurung, and Yosuke Masco.