There were almost Arc'teryx x Tesla jawns??
Veilance's Taka Kasuga talks pitching Elon on a collab, making custom BLM GORP & collecting Arc'bootlegs
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Here at Blackbird Spyplane we f**k with 3 things mega-heavy: 1) the outdoors 2) Japanese design and 3) dope under-the-radar joints. Put them together & u get THE BBSP PYRAMID — with an illuminati eye up top doing “unbeatable all-seeing recon”…
Today’s guest — Arc’teryx Veilance Creative Director Taka Kasuga — has the whole damn pyramid covered. Launched in 2009, Veilance is haute GORP moderne on the most creme-de-la-creme level… so the other day BBSP copilot Erin hit up Taka & to talk about making state-of-the-art outdoor apparel, to reminisce on his time designing for Comme des Garcons, and to serenade some rare & cherished possessions from his personal collection…
Sparking things off?? A couple pieces of Black Lives Matter-themed Arc’teryx gear that Taka customized himself...
Blackbird Spyplane: You sent over a Black Lives Matter Arc’teryx Alpha FL as your cherished personal jawn, where 3 hearts spell out “BLM”… What’s the story behind this?
Taka: “This was one of my weekend projects, which I started back in June. I was quite emotional with what’s been happening, and I wanted to make something that expresses what I stand for. I thought, ‘What happens when I put this logo on an Arc’teryx jacket or t-shirt?’ I’ve marched with it and worn it to work to let everyone know it’s what I believe — it’s important for me, as a minority working in North America.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Is Arc’teryx gonna release this, or—?
Taka: “No, it’s just a personal project. I saw the heart design — which was created by Ryan Feerer — on Stefan Sagmeister’s Instagram. I turned it into an Illustrator file and laser-cut it out of reflective heat-transfer.”
Blackbird Spyplane: There’s a growing movement of people criticizing what they see as the de facto segregation of the outdoors in North America. This jacket feels of a piece with that …
Taka: “Yes, I think it’s awesome. Getting into the outdoor industry was a little scary to me, even, but people at Arc’teryx taught me how to enjoy nature in a different way. I feel we should do more of that work on a larger scale: The industry feels segregated, and not really open to BIPOC, and this is a great time to change that perception.”
Blackbird Spyplane: You studied at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo and before Veilance you designed for Comme des Garcons under Junya Watanabe. Are there are collections or pieces from that time that yr especially proud of?
Taka: “Fall / Winter 2005 was a pivotal moment at Junya, when we started to do deconstructions and reconstructions of functional gear. And after focusing on technical-outdoor that season, spring 2006 was all about workwear: I remember taking these garments apart, learning how to remove triple-needle chain-stitch quickly!”
Blackbird Spyplane: What’s the through-line for you between working at Comme and working at Arc’teryx?
Taka: “At both labels, we build things. At Comme, it’s all about coming up with new shapes — if you have an idea, you have to build it, because that’s how you communicate it: through sketching and then prototyping.
“At Arc’teryx we’re very hands-on, too. We work through ideas by building them. The sound you hear on the design floor at Arc’teryx and Comme — the sound of the actual machinery — is similar at both places. The difference is there’s a specific sound from seam taping and heat-press that we use for Veilance that traditional fashion doesn’t have.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Any new fabrics or details you’ve developed at Veilance that yr psyched about?
Taka: “So many technologies — there are actually things we’ve been working on for the launch of women’s Veilance, which will come out next year. There are gender differences to tactility — I can’t really say more than that at this point.”
Blackbird Spyplane: U also sent over pics of stuff that says “ARC’TEXAS.” What is it?
Taka: “This is an interesting time in digital globalization, where I’ll see a bunch of things on Instagram where people are playing around with Arc’teryx iconography. I connected with this one guy, @kaugummi.katz, who does a bunch of modified Arc’ stuff. There are a lot of people doing their own takes on Arc’teryx stuff, but his is one of the best executions. It’s a very interesting phenomenon — another take on ‘creative bootlegging.’”
Blackbird Spyplane: That’s a good phrase, because there’s a difference between faking something and “freaking” something… U gotta respect it when someone freaks it.
Taka: “It’s interesting how the graphic treatment changes the context of the product and what the product means. I personally like to embrace that stuff — we’re not ready to do it as a brand, but I feel like it’s possible in the future that brands will engage in these type of ideas & do more collaborations along these lines.”
Blackbird Spyplane: U also sent us a picture of a glowing Tesla logo on black fabric— why?
Taka: “An ex-colleague of mine got hired by Tesla, and she called me and said, Hey, maybe there’s a Veilance x Tesla collaboration? The idea was to provide uniquely branded wearable designs to Tesla. They have no wearable product except for Space X suits — it’s not their expertise — so they saw an opportunity to work with us. The image I sent is a heat transfer from this potential side-project that we worked on, but it didn’t happen: I put together a package for my friend to pitch to Elon Musk, and his answer was, ‘We can’t have double names. We should do it on our own.’ Maybe he doesn’t like collabs!”
Blackbird Spyplane: You posted some cool knit Salomon Sense 8 trail-runners on yr Instagram. What other non-Arc’teryx GORP are you f**king with lately?
Taka: “I’m trying to get my partner into camping. I wanted to go around for a road trip, car camping and more backcountry stuff, too, so I’m gathering camping gear. I’m really excited about my new sleeping pad from Therm-a-Rest.”
Blackbird Spyplane: 1970s GORP GOATS!
Taka: “It’s such an intelligent design. Outdoor gear — how it gets lighter and smaller with time, these lightweight materials and innovations that enable you to do more — it’s incredible.”
-Veilance’s site is here
-Taka’s Instagram is here
-We put a few cool Arc’teryx t-shirts we dug up in the Blackbird SpyMall — which will go behind the paywall for CLA$$IFIED-TIER subscribers after Sep. 8 lovers !!
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