Interview | Philip Goss for Ijin Material
For our first interview here at Denimaniac we were fortunate enough to get Philip Goss, founder of denim label Ijin Material to answer some questions for us. We’ve told you all about Ijin before, and now we’ve a chance to tap into this denim master(‘s)-mind…
DNM: How did it start for you? What drew you to the world of denim?
Philip Goss: Denim has not always been as quotably fashionable like it is today, nor had as much kudos attached to it. I was a kid in the 70s & was forced to wear “jeans “, because of basic economics. It was not something I grew up with & therefore, grew to love…. this comment might disappoint, but I never really went near a pair of jeans (again) until I could see that something new was happening with the way denim was perceived & styled & , more importantly , that jeans were “different “ to what everyone else was wearing. I did not make career progress up through the commercial jeans company market place, like so many, to get where I am today. I am ex-st.martin’s. a designer, period. But I have an interest in the historical, the functional, in know-how & the craftsman. And this is what drew me “back“ to denim, because I could see that there was a neo-denim period about to happen in the early 90s.
DNM: Can you describe your creative process? What inspires you?
PG: There is no strict critical path with Ijin. I always aim for perfection & an alternative view point to the history of the denim product. I have always believed that communication & connection with a customer should come from within the strength of the garment itself, whatever form that it takes. I spent such a long time putting together the original Evisu selling line (back in 2000) & working with Japanese product & its replica denim mindset that I started Ijin irregular denim as a kind of yang balance to the yin classic denims I was used to working with.
DNM: Who are your role models, and why?
PG: I have always preferred an interpretation of the wearer, rather than a named person as mentor. Example: Morrissey always wore Levi’s in a totally original way (with the gladiolis in the pocket). I loved the Christopher Nemeth denim in the 80s, which is about as un-historic as you get. I would have to name Yamane- san [founder of Evisu – d.] as the most influential person, but not necessarily my role model….
DNM: You mentioned the wearer – are you interested in creating a ‘total-look’ collection for your customers, or prefer to dedicate yourself to denim only?
PG: Ijin has tried the idea of a total look, but it seemed that people were still trying to understand the concept behind the denim, which even today seems to be still classified as “edgy”. Ijin would definitely like to present selected articles other than denim in the future.
DNM: Of all the great denim shops in the world today, which are your favorites?
PG: Real McCoy, dry bones, Evis genes, 45 rpm, Osaka. Take five, Kowloon. 14 ounce, Roma. Tenue de Nimes, Amsterdam (Of course!). Garbstore, London. Blue in Green, NYC.
DNM: Cool choices! What, in your opinion, are the components of a great denim store?
PG: Unconflicting selection of cool denim brands. This does not mean that they all have to be exclusive or beyond anyone’s budget. The personality of the retailer is strongest when the mix is balanced.
DNM: What changes have you seen in the denim market in the last few years?
PG: 1. in recent years, everyone seems to view denim through” almond eyes”…..
2. False heritages & unsound pedigrees from so-called premium brands with no foundations in jeans making.
3. Internet savvy denim bloggers.
DNM: So… what lies in the future for Ijin Material?
PG: The Ijin is a soldier & a survivor. The Ijin is independent & will survive the current economic glitch that will kill of a lot of labels. Getting past these times is foremost to Ijin, whilst still making constantly evolving innovative denim product with an itch that you can’t scratch….