A Conversation with Jun Takahashi

Photo by Anne-Sophie Soudoplatoff | Interview by Achille Filipponi

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Achille Filipponi: Hi, Jun. Let’s get straight to the point! Why do you run?

Jun Takahashi: To maintain a positive state of mind.

AF: Our bodies in movement, running, cities too. How does this daily, unstoppable force dialogue with the need for silence, to slow down or even stop? Do you manage to find a balance?

JT: I live and work in the chaotic city of Tokyo. The workload is tough, and I have to handle various tasks, across different categories, daily. To cope with this lifestyle, three years ago, I set up an atelier in a seaside town an hour’s drive from Tokyo.

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I spend two to three days a week in this studio, nestled in the mountains, but just a walk away from the sea. There, I focus on designing and painting. This way, while I still live in the city, I can find a balance in my life by immersing myself in a natural environment. For me, at my age, this practice is crucial, giving me some vital tranquility.

AF: How much does the passing of the day—dawn, sunset—influence the practice of running in your daily life? When you run, do you feel in sync with what is around you?

JT: I always go for a run in the morning. Especially in winter, when it’s cold and I imagine myself outside in the chilly air, I feel like I don’t want to get out of bed. However, once I start running, my body is filled with energy, and it has a very positive effect on my mental state.  I’ve never regretted going for a run after finishing it. I strongly feel that it’s a perfect activity to start the day.

AF: In your opinion, how much underground spirit, which has always been a part of your work, is there in the current running scene? Could it be considered a new cultural and aesthetic frontier? A new way to live the city?

JT: For me, running is a highly personal activity, so I don’t consider it in a cultural or aesthetic way.

AF: Did dynamism change your approach to life? Did something inside you change since you started running?

JT: Let’s say you’re dealing with a problem at work or in your personal life. While running, you find yourself focusing solely on the act of running rather than actively pondering how to solve the problem. As a result, you may not find any answers.

When you’re struggling to find an answer to a problem, instead of just contemplating how to tackle it, a positive “action is the only way” mindset emerges. I came to realize this perspective after I started running.

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AF: Regarding the SOUKUU collection, how much does your previous knowledge about the project’s innovation and complexity matter in its goal? What is the principle behind this new project?

JT: The fundamental concept of this project is technical wear that can be used in both mountain and urban environments. Regarding innovation, The North Face shared the know-how it has been working on for years, which I interpreted and used to go forward with the design.

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AF: Running is a constantly changing reality and it is getting stronger and stronger on the fashion scene. Is this a good or bad thing in your opinion? This phenomenon is engaging more and more people, but maybe it’s changing too much?

JT: When I started the GYAKUSOU project, running and fashion were elements that didn't mix easily. The concept at the time was to create color schemes that blended into both the city and nature, with the aim to gradually integrate fashion and running over the years. If we’re getting positive results, there’s nothing more gratifying than that.

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AF: What’s the future of running as a cultural phenomenon? How do you see its evolution in the upcoming future?

JT: To have a significant cultural impact, the first step is to encourage people to run. The positive physical and mental effects of running can only be understood by actually trying it out. If the initial interest spreads, I believe it could become an even larger cultural phenomenon than it is already.

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