A perfect storm of the coronavirus and immigration issues has caused Ryohei Kawanishi, creative director of Landlord, to exit his role and the brand and return to Japan.
On Friday, Kawanishi sent out an e-mail saying “after much consideration, I have made the decision to leave the company and New York City. It has been difficult to make this decision. However, the reality of the situation to renew my visa and the financial burden required have made it very difficult for me to continue living and working here.”
Kawanishi graduated from the New School’s Parsons School of Design in 2015 with a master’s of fine arts in fashion design and society degree. He had also studied at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London. He began designing Landlord, a streetwear-inspired men’s wear brand, in 2015.
Reached on Friday, Kawanishi said he’d been having visa issues for a year and when the pandemic hit and there was “no cash flow” coming into the company, it was no longer “realistic” for him to remain in New York.
He stressed that the label will continue to go forward, spearheaded by chief executive officer Daniel Huang, and he is willing to continue to work with the brand from Japan if asked. Huang did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the future of the label, whose stockists include Dover Street Market, Ssense, Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées and others, according to the brand’s web site.
Kawanishi said once he returns to Japan, he hopes to reconnect with other former Landlord employees who are based there and will explore “what we can do together.” He said he hopes to work with a patternmaker to create one-of-a-kind pieces that will be sold directly to consumers and not wholesaled.
“I’d like to focus on a slower pace,” he said.
He said he enjoyed the “wonderful journey” he has been on living in New York the past seven years and working at Landlord since 2015. “I look forward to reconnecting in the near future once I am back in Japan and have started a new journey of my life there.”
Kawanishi was born in Tottori, Japan, in 1987, and his work has been exhibited globally at MoMA; Museum of Arts and Design; Artipelag in Sweden; Biennale International Design Saint Etienne in France; Trapholt in Denmark; Somerset House in London, and Mode Biennale in the Netherlands. He was a runner-up for the Nova Prize, was shortlisted at the International Emerging Fashion Talent Showcase in 2012, and was the first scholar for the Uniqlo-Tomodachi Scholarship, according to the Council of Fashion Designers of America.