F i.n.t & an another angelus
Going global with retro girly fashion
Free International’s clothing brands F i.n.t, F i.n.t Cherry, dé cora F i.n.t, an another angelus, Patti Pucci, Pink Pop Panic and DUDE DO target different age groups and are inspired by fashion of different eras, while Free marche is their stylish giftware brand. Established in 1984 in Nagoya, Japan, the fashion company Free International designs, manufactures and sells women’s clothing and fashion accessories. Their clothing is available through department stores such as Lumine and Parco as well as F i.n.t and an another angelus shops throughout Japan and in Hong Kong. Customers overseas can shop online at www.fint-shop.com for stylish vintage clothing and timeless designs. Tokyo Journal met with Free International’s president Masahiko Kuzuya and shop staff to find out about their vintage themed clothing business and elegant giftware endeavors.
TJ: What is the concept of F i.n.t fashion?
KUZUYA: The basic concept is “retro-classic”–what we call “Japanese Girly,” and it has something in common with Kawaii fashion. It is classic French-style mixed with present day Japanese taste. At the same time, we emphasize decency and aim to make available clothes that parents want their daughters to wear. We originally targeted teenagers and young women in their twenties, but we have expanded to include women over thirty by developing a new brand an another angelus.
TJ: The theme of your 2014 autumn/winter line is inspired by the classic movie On Moonlight Bay. Do you often base your clothing line themes on movies?
KUZUYA: We adopted that style six or seven years ago. We get inspiration for our collection by choosing one or two classic movies, such as Lili, Young at Heart or Les Parisiennes, or an actress as a theme of the season.
TJ: Now you have 18 shops all over Japan and one overseas. Are you planning to open new branches soon?
KUZUYA: Yes, we just opened a new shop in Hamamatsu in October and will open one in Kanazawa next spring. It is also likely that we are going to have a shop in Taiwan in the near future. We don’t have any other concrete plans to open new branches overseas at present, but we intend to expand our branches all over the world. Because of challenges such as clothing size differences, our initial target is Asia. We also have two vending machines selling t-shirts and fabric bags–one in Shinjuku, and the other near the Grand Shrine of Ise–to promote our brands among tourists. We can’t maintain vending machines in disorderly areas. We hope this may also give the opportunity for people to think about peace.
TJ: When was Free International founded and what is your company’s philosophy?
KUZUYA: The company was established 30 years ago and we have been selling our original brand for almost 15 years. Our management philosophy is to make people happy. In other words, we’d like our employees to achieve satisfaction both materially and emotionally. Our corporate philosophy is to develop a corporation and employees that contribute to world peace. Japanese girls’ fashion has evolved greatly as society continues to enjoy peace and safety. We want to expand that peaceful environment to the entire world and we want to send that message through Japanese fashion that is founded on deep history and culture. Even though our power is small, we try to promote world peace.
TJ: Do you have plans for future fashion projects?
KUZUYA: Of course, this can’t be realized immediately, but we do hope to do this kind of activity. The reason why many Japanese non-industrial products do not meet international standards is because Japanese companies don’t have a global perspective. As the Japanese Government has become set in traditional industries, they haven’t actively promoted new areas such as subculture in the past. Thus, new areas don’t dare to expand overseas. However, we do want to make efforts to make a breakthrough, even if it is a slight one.
“Full attention is given even to small details such as buttons and lace material. Our staff are big fans of our products.”
TJ: When did you start your online gift shop? What kind of products do you sell online?
KUZUYA: We started our online shop two years ago. Originally, the online shop targeted young women in their twenties who were looking for things like wedding gifts. Our international customers can shop online at www.fint-shop.com for clothing and www.free-marche.com for lifestyle-related products such as candles made in Bali, towels, soap, and room-wear for girls and young women.
TJ: Do you have any other development plans for your lifestyle products?
KUZUYA: We would like hotels to use our products as souvenir gifts. We can design original products with their branding. I think we can use Japanese quality as leverage.
TJ: What kind of relationship with customers do you aim for?
KUZUYA: We train employees to serve customers well. Thanks to their efforts, many customers feel close to our staff.
TJ: What is the most attractive point about your products?
STAFF: Full attention is given even to small details such as buttons and lace material. Our staff are big fans of our products.
TJ: In what situations do customers wear your products?
STAFF: Our customers include students and office workers. They wear our products in various situations such as commuting or dating.
TJ: What products do you recommend the most?
STAFF: One-piece dresses are highly recommended, because they represent our concept of “every season” clearly. As for gifts, a candle, soap and photo frame gift box is recommended.
TJ: Do foreign tourists often visit your shop in Daikanyama?
STAFF: Yes, young foreign tourists often come to visit us while sightseeing.
The original article is available in Issue #276. Click here to order from Amazon