FIRST TIMER: Visvim, the artisinal sportswear brand founded in 2000 by Hiroki Nakamura, has opened its first flagship in downtown Los Angeles.
Known as Visvim Exposition, the 3,000-square-foot space, located in the ground floor of the historic Bradbury Building at 304 South Broadway, is the brand’s first gallery concept. Nakamura, who moved to L.A. four years ago from Tokyo, also has a small retail space in the Brentwood Country Mart, and Visvim has a residence-like, desert-themed store in Santa Fe, N.M., which opened in 2017. The flagship reflects Nakamura’s unique aesthetic, which is grounded in traditional Japanese dyeing techniques, Native American and Americana inspirations.
In the same way he directs the brand’s collections creatively, Nakamura was integral in executing the development and concept of the store. Opening design elements include a vintage Fifties Airstream trailer, which is used to display the F.I.L. Indigo Camping Trailer collection, based around a traditional mud-dyeing technique used for kimonos. The range of reds (derived from minerals from a volcanic island in Japan) is used in T-shirts as well as quilted jackets patched together from vintage bandanas and kimonos. The collection also includes natural indigo denim jackets and pieces made with kofu, vintage indigo-dyed cotton fabric.
Another installation involves an exact replica of a World War II military tent, used to display a collection launching this weekend exclusively in L.A. called Contrary Department, or C/D. The line is based around military clothing, workwear and outdoor gear with a specific purpose or function in mind, whether it’s for battle or for specialized work.
“I take these classic pieces and reinterpret them through my filter and ponder once again what the meaning of such garments is and what it means for them to be functional or have a new revived purpose,” said Nakamura.
In between these two installations are the brand’s shoes, ranging from handmade utility boots to mocassin sneakers. Over the shoe display hangs a giant paper lantern, and in the back corner of the space is a pedestal displaying a pair of giant mocassins, made with the same rubber treads as the human-sized versions.
The fourth corner of the space features a vintage furniture vignette centered around a George Nakashima desk. Nakamura is fond of his midcentury designs, as well as other trappings of the era such as vintage speakers and vinyl records, which play a soundtrack of old-timey standards.
Like all of Visvim’s stores — there are another seven in Japan — the store has a bespoke fragrance designed by Blaise Mautin. It was hard to discern amid the VIP crowd that came to preview the store on Friday, including John Mayer.
“I would like to think of this new location as an ever-changing installation of all my comprehensive work from past, present and future,” said Nakamura. “It will be a freethinking gallerylike experience with a rotating exhibition of new developments both within the brand as well as the work and ideas of other people with a similar ideology and philosophy.”
Visvim Exposition also carries the most complete assortment of ready-to-wear and accessories from the spring 2018 and pre-fall 2018 Visvim (men’s) and WMV (women’s) collections.