Travels with Kathy Peterson, part one

 LV store in Tokyo

Above: a Louis Vuitton window display in Tokyo featuring the brightly colored artwork of Takashi Murakami. 

Earlier this year, koi designer Kathy Peterson and some members of the koi creative team packed their bags for a trip to the Far East. The first destination was Japan. Here are some of Kathy’s thoughts on this recent trip:

Our first stop was Japan. I love Japan. I say this not because my heritage is Japanese but because it really is a cool place to visit. It was an adventure from the moment we landed. Reports of the swine flu entering the US were all over the TV around the time I landed in Tokyo. Japan is known for many things: cool electronic gadgets, very polite people, sushi and innovative fashion. A lesser known fact is that many Japanese people are very germophobic (in Japan) and will wear surgical masks when they are sick to prevent the spread of germs. Before we were allowed off the plane, we went through an inspection process that looked like a 1960s space horror movie. We had to pass inspection by a group of men dressed in yellow full-body rubber suits , masks and huge heat-sensory cameras. If they weren’t so polite it might have been scary. I am happy to say that they allowed us to deplane and start our adventure. 

In Tokyo, Louis Vuitton was celebrating the 6th anniversary of their collaboration with Takashi Murakami. Murakami is known for the brightly printed Louis Vuitton purses with the cherries and colorful LV letters. The windows of the stores were decorated in bright colors and beautiful, playful art.  Japan featured a lot of bright, joyful colors reminiscent of the 80s. These colors inspired our Spring 2010 collection. Adidas created this huge mural of tennis shoes. When you entered the store they gave you a marker and a sketch of a shoe to color. They later posted your shoe on the mural. We could see someone hanging from a bungee cord mounting the shoes on the wall. Very cool.  

We also went to Japan’s famous shopping district Harajuku. It was so packed with people we could hardly walk.  We saw huge lines that were 4 people deep for many, many blocks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people lined up before. Everyone, both men and women, were in line for hours to get into the new Forever 21 store that just opened. There is a huge trend and demand in Japan for stores that are inexpensive and fashionable. They love stores like H & M and TopShop. Harajuku is also a great place to people watch. This area is known for their outrageous fashion. We saw neon colors paired with black, denim mini skirts and furry Russian hats. A great trend we were inspired by is longer tops with a drawstring and dropped waist. You can see this inspiration in the new Reese top. The prints were inspired by the beautiful textile patterns and prints we saw throughout Japan. Many people do not know this, but Japan is known for beautiful textiles and prints. They are often used in the better designer markets in Europe because of their high cost. Japan is also known for the beautiful fabrics that are used in Kimonos, traditional Japanese attire. Some of the fabrics are woven with gold thread and cost thousands of dollars. They are a work of art.

The Japanese are known for their presentation, and store purchases often come with a bag within a bag. They consider the packaging part of the gift. Many stores provide you with an extra gift bag just in case you give the item you purchased as a gift. The concept of recycling hasn’t quite caught on there yet. I tried several times to leave a store without a bag and I would always end up with the item either wrapped up in paper or in a smaller bag than they would have originally given me. Sometimes I would end up with both. I have to admit, the packaging is beautiful. 

Check our blog next week for more highlights from Kathy’s Far East trip. Next stop: Korea. 

Adidas mural

Above: A mural created by Adidas in Tokyo featuring drawings of Adidas shoes hand-colored by their customers.