Catching up with Full Count

So how have you been?

It’s been pretty boring lately actually.

Boring?

Yeah, I can’t go to the Tokyo store, we aren’t allowed to travel, you know…

Ah yeah, for sure.

But you know, jeans sales have actually been really good.

You mean internet sales?

Yeah, that too, but mostly wholesale. The Tokyo shop is in Harajuku so of course sales there are down quite a bit but…overall it’s been good.

Why is that?

No idea actually…but we’re somehow doing better than last year as far as sales go.

Wow…

I don’t think all brands have been this lucky though through all of this.

Shop staff Hagiwara-san looking sharp.

That’s great you’ve been able to maintain that with all that’s been going on.

For sure. I guess it’s not quite that simple, but sales were going wild at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. When corona really hit of course things went down a bit, but overall we’re up over last year. I think we’ll be good from here on out.

I wonder why you guys have been able to do so well when a lot of other brands are really struggling.

Maybe…our fans…we don’t really have that many, like, “denim maniacs” going crazy and buying our stuff. It’s more just regular people that seem interested in our stuff, and we’ve been in it for 28 years so people know what they’re getting. Mostly middle-aged guys you know…so these new brands popping up, these guys don’t know anything about them. And I think a lot of Full Count owners or fans, like everyone else I guess, have a lot of time on their hands these days so they’re like, “What the hell, I’m gonna buy some jeans.”

Haha…yeah you’re probably right.

It’s a different game from these new brands that a lot of young people are going nuts over and buying. Most of our customers wouldn’t even know those brands. Real McCoys are kind of the same as us in that regard too.

Full Count Wabash.

How about the denim industry in Japan as a whole?

Not good. Not good at all actually. A lot of these denim company owners are my friends and we used to always chat or whatever on the phone but…there haven’t been many calls these days. I think a lot of them are in a pretty desperate situation. I’m not trying to say like we’re all good but everyone else is in trouble, I don’t think it’s quite like that but…the fact is that some companies are not in a good spot at all right now.

How about the mills?

I don’t think they have that many orders these days.

Sewing factories?

Well in our case they’re only doing Full Count jeans so…they’re fine.

How was the Inazuma Festival this year? It was online wasn’t it?

Yeah, two days and eighty brands. We sold more than I thought we would. It was fun actually. Lightning staff did some really cool stuff on YouTube. Games, present time, a lot of stuff actually. It was good.

How is your new heavy and super rough denim selling? Is it really popular?

Mmmmm, not really actually. As we had kind of guessed, it’s our basic core stuff that remains popular. Heavy ounce stuff is cool at first but…yeah even overseas our core stuff is more popular than the heavy or rough denim.

Will you continue making it?

We’ll continue with the super rough, but it’s never going to be a big seller for us I don’t think.

Is there anything that you want to make that you haven’t made yet?

We’re going to release this WW2 jacket later this year which is new. We’ve been doing the style for a while but the denim itself is new. Our usual Full Count denim is based on 1940s denim, but then I tried to improve it with my own ideas, but this new stuff is just like it was back then in the 40s. We’ve totally left it alone, so it’s got a different feel for sure. Like our regular denim is really comfortable and easy to wear while this new stuff is a bit rough, a bit rustic.

Full Count WW2 denim jacket detail.

How about something you still want to make?

We’ve been doing this for a long time and I really think that everything I’ve wanted to make I’ve already made. I’m actually kind of in the opposite mindset at the moment – we’ve made so many different things that moving forward, I’d like to make less things and just concentrate on fewer items. But actually there is one cool “new” thing we’re doing…

What is it?

We did it once in the past but we’re doing it again. Kids’ jeans. From the end of this month we’ll be releasing jeans for kids, their “first jeans”. They’re going to come in a cool box so the parents can put the jeans back in there once the kid has outgrown them and totally forgotten about them, so like when they turn 20 or when they leave the house the parents can give them as a present again, for the second time. I think the person would be super happy to get that back as a memory and you could even put like pictures or old toys in the box too.

Full Count’s “First Jeans”, complete with leg twist!

Oh wow, that’s awesome. What a nice idea.

Yeah I really think it’s a nice idea too.

Where do you see Full Count in 10 or 20 years?

I just hope we’re in a position to keep doing what we’re doing now, making what we are making now. The second think is like, you know, we’ve got lots of fans around the world and I think there’s a general image of “Japanese jeans are good”, but I’d like to go beyond that and really express the true value of Japanese denim. Not like in a trendy way or just to try and get some wicked fades, but like a lifestyle where you wear your jeans every day and look forward to it, to watching them evolve in a natural way and come to represent a record of your life. They become part of you. I’m not so into the whole wearing jeans to try and get the highest contrast fades possible…that’s okay of course and we do have those kinds of fans that are important to us, but I don’t think trends like that will last forever. It’s nicer to just wear them every day and let them become part of you. I would like to get more people into wearing jeans this way.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Play pool.

Play pool?

Yeah, that’s like all I do. Going in tournaments and stuff.

Are you getting better and better all the time?

No, more just like maintaining my level. Twenty years ago I was actually way better than now, but slowly I guess I’m getting old and my eyesight is shot so…..haha…

I know you like cars, so what are the best 3 cars you’ve had?

Best 3? You mean like I’ve ever driven or actually owned?

That you’ve owned.

Number 1 is definitely AMG Benz.

Why?

Ridiculously fast. But also felt like super safe and stable. Safe, fast, luxurious…everything.

You still have it?

No, sold that one long ago.

Next?

Maserati. Coupe.

Third?

Hmmm…that’s hard. I like my Super 7 I guess. I used to like…mmmm…you know I’ve had a lot of Mercedes over the years and they’re the best for me but…yeah I guess it would be my Super 7 I drive now for number 3.

Miki-san and his Super 7.

Favorite food.

Definitely sushi.

Do you cook at home?

Nope, but my wife cooks every day.

Music?

Rock.

What era?

1970s I guess. Like from the end of my elementary school days I loved rock, and then heavy metal into junior high school. 70s, 80s metal.

Where do you like outside of Japan?

Ahh…that’s hard. I think it would be London. It reminds me a lot of Japan in some ways. This is tough to explain but you know, like I love the States because there’s a certain kind of energy and casualness, but in places like L.A. or whatever people are so friendly and like, “Yo dude, whassup??” and that’s all good, but sometimes they like forget stuff like you’ve made an appointment and they don’t show up or whatever. I know I’m kind of stereotyping and of course there’s a lot of serious people there too, but the image is like kind of loose, like kind of “Whatever”. In London, like here, people are more conscientious about details, manners, time. Stuff like that. If we mean a specific city I like, it would be New York.

Anything you’d like to say to Full Count fans out there?

Mmm…yeah, we’ve been making the same products since the start and we will continue like that into the future so I really appreciate all of your support. Beyond that, my message to everyone, not just Full Count fans, is that I want to start expressing the idea of a “new normal” in the world. This of course isn’t just something I came up with myself, but I have been thinking a ton about stuff that I never considered before the Covid virus hit…so at the next exhibition I want to have the mindset of paying more attention to things like love, community, thinking of those people around you…not just selling jeans or making money. Looking inside ourselves and others for what is of true value.

Well that sounds like a perfect place to leave it. Thanks as always Miki-san.

Thank you too.

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