The French-born, New York-trained designer Julien David creates lines of structural streetwear crafted in Tokyo. Influenced by Japanese tailoring, David’s label began with seasons of scarves and coats before launching into ready-to-wear that mixes proportion into a new brand of modern uniform.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 13th issue of ODDA Magazine.
Q: Tell us a bit about how you came to work at New York fashion houses before launching your own label.
A: I studied two years at Parsons in New York and in my class the teacher advised us to look for an internship which I did and started working at Narciso Rodriguez, I stayed there 3 years and learned a lot. After I looked for another job and I got hired as a designer for Womens Collection at Ralph Lauren with a focus on tailoring.
Q: What motivated your move to Tokyo and the recent relocation to London?
A: I like to change and discover new places, I also like the feeling of being foreigner somewhere, I’m used to it.
Q: You still source your materials from Japan, even once using a construction company to make BMX helmets. What is the creative process like with Japanese manufacturers?
A: I have been making clothing in Japan for nearly 10 years now, It works well for me, I enjoy the dialog between my designs, the mills and the makers, how one influence the others and vice versa.
Q: Your Fall 2017 ready-to-wear took inspiration from the “military, Boy Scouts, and mountain living,” meanwhile one reviewer called it classically British and romantically Victorian. Were you aiming for a particular era?
A: The truth is in the eye of the beholder. When a collection is done, different people see different things in it which is ok with me. I was not aiming at a particular era but somehow it came to be with melancholy, something of an unknown past maybe.
Q: That show was also set to “Masters of War” by Bob Dylan. Can you talk about song choice and overall concept on the runway?
A: It’s an amazing song I love, I don’t think my collection can live up to it but it’s such a beautiful track I had to use it. I think at that moment I wanted something quite substantial in that space, Paris was very cold, the news was gloomy, it felt right.
Q: In the years since you started making your own street-influenced clothing, streetwear has certainly crossed over to “luxury” status with the price tag to match. How do you keep streetwear accessible?
A: Because my collections are entirely made in Japan, the price is quite high, especially when it’s exported to Europe or the US. On the other hand, I know the people who make my clothes and I feel good about it. I don’t think of it as streetwear or not streetwear, I hope it’s modern clothing that people want to own, and are willing to pay the price for it.
Q: Our next issue is themed to the “major,” the notion of having a profound personal response. What in your own collections speaks to a lifelong devotion?
A: My collection intend to reflect the time we live in through my perspective, it’s my lifelong devotion, it’s not easy!
Q: You’ve teamed up with concept shops like Tom Greyhound and Colette in the past. Are there more collaborations on the horizon?
A: Yes, there are, I am in talk with major sport brands, I can’t say more right now… I hope it will come through.
Q: What creative concepts are churning behind the scenes for your SS18 collection?
A: The spring 18 is about ordinary dressing and ordinary materials made extraordinary.