Designer Hayato Arai had a great idea at the right moment.
The cofounder of New York streetwear brand Miles decided to launch a secondary brand of his own in October 2020. Named Hayato, the label is based on sturdy shapes embroidered with patterns taken from famous midcentury modern furniture. In its first year, most of his drops of canvas carpenter pants have sold out within 15 minutes.
Arai’s designs sit at the intersection of where many young people’s interests currently lie. In a nuanced way, they touch on utility and an easier way of dressing, a desire to support small labels and then — one of the pandemic’s biggest trends — a wider obsession with home design products. As reported by WWD, in many cases, a rare vintage chair or lamp became the pandemic’s new “grail,” usurping a coveted handbag or T-shirt as bonafide bragging rights on social media — an assumed indicator of high taste and cultural consciousness.
On Friday, Arai will drop his biggest release yet: two head-to-toe looks with knee patches or pockets embroidered with a caning pattern, recalling the woven rattan signature of designs by 19th-century bentwood chair-maker, Michael Thonet. It is Thonet’s furniture-making company that went on to produce Marcel Breuer’s cantilevered “Cesca” chair design in the ’60s — one of the pandemic’s earliest coveted pieces.
“It’s very natural process I’d say, I just like making things that make me happy,” Arai said of his design ethos. “These are everyday clothing items that I want to wear and I love furniture. Since COVID-19 started, you just see furniture everywhere and I think furniture made me happy during quarantine so I thought those two things combined could work.”
Arai first experimented with the Cesca caning pattern for his first drop last fall, using contrast stitching to define knee patches on brown or black canvas carpenter pants. Now, that same webbing motif has been applied to the pockets of a new denim trucker jacket with matching wide-legged pants. Arai has reprised his first Cesca-inspired design as well, this time fabricating it in cream canvas with orange contrast stitching — with a matching jacket also available. Pieces will become available on the designer’s site at noon, priced from $198 to $222. A limited run will also be available for sale at Tokyo select shop 2G, located inside the recently renovated Parco department store.
For Arai, the Cesca chair has a closer significance. “The cane webbing pattern I just think is beautiful. My grandmother has the Cesca chair in her house in Japan so it reminds me of childhood memories, too,” he said.
While managing two fashion labels, Arai — a Tokyo native who moved to New York in 2016 — has decided to slowly scale the Hayato project over the coming years. In June, he was invited to sell a limited drop at Complex’s digital shopping fair, ComplexLand.
Over the past few months, he has been trickling out small drops of his Panton Work Pant, with curved seams inspired by Verner Panton’s signature S-shape chair design for Vitra. These also quickly disappeared, snapped up by fashion editors and buyers from the MoMA Design Store.
The designer is working on new shapes in ode to Breuer’s famed Bauhaus-era Wassily chair. “I love Breuer but some pieces are hard to transfer onto clothing so I feel like I need more time. I have to keep working on it. Eventually I want to release a drop every month, so that’s my goal as of now,” he said.