Major designers grabbed lots of the limelight in February during New York Fashion Week, but for men’s wear insiders, the talk of the town was a small collection called N.Hoolywood. Created by Daisuke Obana, a Tokyo-based former vintage clothing buyer, the eccentrically spelled label reflects the designer’s obsessive fascination with Americana.
For fall 2011 and his New York runway debut, Obana took inspiration from Ansel Adams’ photographs of Yosemite National Park and early 20th-century mountain-climbing garb. The impeccably styled show featured bearded men in chunky knits, knee-length trousers and herringbone suits, accessorized with the occasional pickaxe.
“People seemed to think it was a new, conceptual kind of show for New York, but for me it was just the same thing I have always been doing,” says Obana, now back in Tokyo, where his shows have long been a fixture on the fashion calendar.
With slicked-back hair, wide-legged black pants and a white button-down shirt, the 37-year-old looks as though he stepped out of the Twenties mug shot lineup he created for his spring 2011 collection. But don’t expect the same look a few months from now: Obana likes to switch themes abruptly from one season to the next.
Founded in 2000, N.Hoolywood already has a foothold in the U.S.—it’s sold in such stores as Opening Ceremony—and Obana travels to America frequently to conduct his painstaking research. “I always start each time from zero,” he says. By the time a theme is developed, Obana will have become a font of information. He’ll tell you the story behind a particular military button or what kind of pants prisoners wore in the Thirties.
His wife is head of public relations for Phillip Lim Japan, and the couple has a two-year-old son. Now that he’s home, will they have a chance to relax?
Obana has already looked into some of the hot springs that are popular in Japan. “I researched the composition of the water in the springs, and I read a lot of literature on that water,” he says. “It’s very interesting.”