Interview Joanna Kawecki
Photography Courtesy of United Arrows

Poggy Style

One of the most stylish gentlemen in Japan, Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi is a buyer and co-director of fashion powerhouse United Arrows & Sons. Born in 1976 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Poggy moved to Tokyo in 1997, bringing his signature funk sign and classic tailored garments. His current sources of inspiration are his son’s regular soccer training sessions, art galleries in Paris and early New York hip hop.

(This piece was featured in our AW15 magazine - January 2015)
How important is travel and the global to you?

Very important. Through my travels I can understand a common sense of community internationally.

What is your favorite place or city to visit, and why?

I haven’t visited all over the world, but I like Tokyo most. Friends from overseas like to visit here often and I find that sometimes they know it better than we do, so now I am trying to study and discover more things about my city and culture. Summer nights in Florence are also indescribable – so much delicious food.

Which places do you always visit in Paris?

It is always different when I visit Paris. Most recently, I enjoyed Daniel Arsham’s exhibition at Galerie Perrotin. I always love to visit Charvet, a beautiful shirt maker located in Place Vendôme. I like the club Le Baron, and I always visit the events that the Pigalle crew organizes.

How important are websites like the Sartorialist, which capture cultural styles and global trends?

It is amazing that the Sartorialist has been able to spread people’s style around the world. There never used to be a medium for people to see how others on the street use their tie and pocket square. It has spread to the world incredibly quickly and that’s great.

What do you read or listen to daily to stay on top of what is happening locally and globally in fashion?

What I check daily is Instagram. I also get information and inspiration through coffee and dinner with my friends, while seasonal collections give me inspiration, too.

What are your main inspirations lately?

The soccer phrase “off the ball” is a deep one that I am really impressed with.

When did your passion for soccer begin? And how often do you get to play?

I was hooked on Captain Tsubasa, a famous Japanese soccer comic, when I was little, but I never actually played. I started helping to train my son’s soccer team when he joined a team in 2013. I find it very interesting and play most weekends. Actually, this morning I joined my son’s soccer training team, and strained my back!

How does music influence fashion culture and vice versa?

I once asked my father what “traditional” meant and he taught me that, “Classic is a dot, traditional is a line.” Something can be very good but if it finishes after just one generation then it’s a dot, but if the older generation tries to tell the younger generation how good it is and the younger generation wants to learn more from the older generation, then there is a line that continues between both points and that’s traditional. I used to listen to a lot of punk rock and rock music when I was young.

I was knocked out by hip hop when I first visited New York aged 25 and I think break beats are definitely traditional as they attracted the younger generation in 1970s by using popular old soul and funk records on turntables, which then turned into hip hop. It’s like a compass to me when I think about my fashion.

Is there any album you’ve been listening to lately?

There isn’t a particular album I’ve been listening to, but lately I’ve been enjoying Sango and Waldo, two musicians I saw in New York last August. I have been listening to Soulection too: Joekay’s DJ set was amazing when he played at the OAMC party at Union LA. A Japanese band called Tiny Panx is also on my radar; I’m inspired by their fashion and style, too.

Do you remember the first album you bought when you were younger?

Train-Train by Japanese band the Blue Hearts.

What are you listening to at moment in office or playing in-store at United Arrows?

The radio is always playing at the office. And in-store, we play old dub and jazz music, and musicians with Japanese roots. At the moment, we’re playing contemporary musician Shigeto, but also playing music from the 1980s, such as Plastics.

United Arrows celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In what ways has it changed or adapted since starting?

There are more customers from overseas, and in a way Japanese consumer minds have changed with that. Customers now would like to buy things that hold a real importance in their lives, particularly after the 2011 earthquake.

In what way do you feel fashion in Tokyo has changed or adapted? Have new global brands influenced a new generation or has this always been present?

There’s a movement of easy fashion that has become a little cheap and fast. For example, the Supreme logo was inspired by the artist Barbara Kruger, and that’s what makes street culture interesting – the background and depth. But now on the street you can see so many imitation T-shirts just using a red box and font, it almost compromises the original culture’s intelligence. However, new brands of quality and culture are emerging and inspiring the new generation, so I would like to work with them and help develop a new culture.

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