14 May 2024
Edit. & Layout Design. Seorim Lee (@24rim2)
Interview. Sangmin Sim (@aaronsimson)

SABUKARU, known for its unique artwork and bold editorial style that captures various cultural and artistic movements centered in Japan, has finally joined forces with 8DIVISION, a curated store renowned for its distinctive selection based on deep artistic sensibility. Together, they aim to create new narratives at the intersection of culture and art.

Starting May 16, the SABUKARU X 8 DIVISION pop-up will feature 8DIVISION x SABUKARU exclusive items, as well as products from SUGAR PUNCH, LUCA HAMERS, and ALIVE FORM. You can experience the unique world of each brand through interviews with the director.


8DIVISION (8D) : Hello Adrian Bianco. Before we begin the interview, Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of 8DIVISION?

Bianco (B) : Hello, my name is Bianco. I am the editor-in-chief of Sabukaru and also the founder and creative director of Bianco Bianco, an agency based in Tokyo. I have been living in Tokyo for over six years, and most of my work is centered around subculture fashion and creativity.

8D : What sparked your fascination with Japan's subculture scene?

B : The first connecting point with Japanese culture was definitely the food and anime that I had been consuming back then from Germany. Now living in Japan, I can surely say that our understanding of subculture barely scratches the surface. However, what truly intrigued me was that I knew and heard that there's a place on this planet where many subcultures come from and that people who live there dig very deep to find more interests and live their lives within this subculture.


8D : SABUKARU has evolved into one of the leading online media platforms covering the diversity of Japanese culture as well as underground trends. In your opinion, what were the key factors that enabled such growth, and what do you see as the next steps?

B : I believe SABUKARU's success is rooted in us digging deep into all layers of subculture and underground topics. While many people are already happy on level one of Japanese culture, sharing some pictures of babe or old Nigo's images, spending time at Shibuya Crossing, and shopping in Harajuku, which is already great, layer one.

We actually delve even deeper, bringing attention to topics, personas, and ideas that have been forgotten or are very new, sometimes even undiscovered. Therefore, we strive to highlight diverse perspectives, not just focusing on the obvious or mainstream. For this reason, our page doesn’t always feature what is highly successful or widely desired. Additionally, we don't shy away from posting completely new to people, allowing them to learn and explore alongside us.


8D : What are the criteria for the content produced by SABUKARU? According to you, what draws the line between good and bad content?

B : At SABUKARU, we've got a vibe to maintain: our posts need to stand out, offering deep cultural insights and providing reads you won't find anywhere else. We focus on unique takes that haven't already been featured on every mood board or Instagram page. Plus, our writers are immersed in the local scene, living the culture we cover in our content. Another important aspect of our work is to have fun with it; not just to keep things super serious all the time.

Good content vs. Bad content. That's a great question. On the one hand, there are very simple types of content. I know I could grow SABUKARU by just keeping on very popular Japanese topics that everyone loves. But I don't think that's the way to go if we're just trying to please the masses and aim for easy growth with fast content and small bits of information, following the whole trend on Instagram. It might be successful content, but for me, that's not always good content.

In our view, Good content means something people haven't heard about yet or makes people interested in topics they might not have known before. And I also really believe good content also sometimes means losing followers because of it. Many people come to us and simply expect another page talking about the beauty of Japan or other Asian countries. And then they are sometimes shocked when we post something more extreme or something that might be a little bit too much and then we lose followers. And I actually think that means that's good content. It's like cooking a good bowl of soup in a pot. The more you reduce the liquid, the better the soup gets. I believe good content can also sometimes make you lose some audience.

And in the case of bad content, I think there is almost no bad content on SABUKARU because we are just composed of many people with different ages, diversities, and backgrounds and they don't shy away from telling me or whoever is working on something that this topic is not cool and we shouldn't post about it and then we don't do it.


8D : Are there any new types of content or subject areas you would like to explore in the future for SABUKARU?

B : So, we're exploring a few new ideas for the future direction of SABUKARU. Firstly, you might have already noticed that we're engaging more directly with individuals and creating video content around them. Instead of reels, we're opting for carousel posts where we delve deeper into each person's life and creativity. This approach might go against the algorithm, but for us, it prioritizes quality, which is more important. We're also working on launching a print magazine, which is a significant step for us. Additionally, after almost four years of focusing on Japan-centric content, we're expanding our horizons to cover more of Asia. Expect to see more exciting content about China, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, and beyond. We're definitely broadening our scope to cover more diverse ground.

8D : What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming collaboration with 8DIVISION for the popup in Seoul?

First of all, I'm excited because I really love 8DIVISION, the director Heo (Heo Shin Gu), and his creation. I believe this is one of the top stores, not just in Korea but all over Asia. It's an amazing team and store, and I am sure it holds an amazing community. So I am simply excited that we can combine SABUKARU's community and the 8DIVISION community to properly introduce SABUKARU in Korea, Seoul. I want to pay respect and I just want to show up and be present and introduce ourselves properly and hopefully start new connections that will last for many years. This is just beginning, and I'm here for it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to join the interview. As we wrap up, could you share a few words with the fans of SABUKARU in Korea and the readers of 8DIVISION?

B : Big thanks to everybody who's reading SABUKARU. Me and the team are really excited to come to korea. We're all about doing more cool stuff there. Come over to 8DIVISION to say hi when we are around reach out to us if you want do something with us and yeeah, let's juust create cool shit. Have a nice day!


8D : Hello, Luca Hamers. Could you please provide a brief introduction for the readers of 8DIVISION prior to the interview?

Luca Hamers (L) : Hello, My name is Luca Hamers, and I'm a fashion designer exploring futurism and surrealistic design.

8D : It's nice to meet you! I was quite impressed by the material Void Hypergloss©, which seems to be closely connected to the concept of the clothing. I'm also curious about the origin of its name. Especially in this collection, you showcased many intriguing silhouettes and textures. I'm wondering, what is your favorite piece?

L : I'm glad that both the fabric and the collection left a deep impression on the readers. The name "Void Hypergloss" originates from the desired feeling we wanted to achieve with this fabric we developed. We desired a fabric that exudes a strong and deep darkness while also having a surface that gleams intensely. The current naming implies that when the wearer moves, light dances across the fabric in a captivating manner. It's remarkable that I could convey my story by delving into the world of various fabrics. I anticipate more options for fabrics in the future. As for my favorite piece in this collection, it's the Phendrana Jacket. It's one of the pieces that required patience and dedication over a long period, across seasons. We finally decided to release it when we all felt it was good enough. While there's always a perfectionist urge in the studio to improve our work, the moment we surpass that is the moment we can celebrate the unveiling. The Phendrana Jacket holds even greater significance as it allows me to focus more on the "masked elements," which are part of my worldview planned for future collections.


8D : Listening to the story about the material designed for the wearer's movement has made me even more curious about your views on fit. What do you think is the most important factor in determining a good fit?

L : Personally, I prefer a sense of anonymity. It's about hiding one's identity and playing. I believe garments made with masks and veils compel the wearer to disappear. When denied the opportunity to lead the conversation, we become more appreciative of the role clothes bestow upon us. To me, clothes are meant to halt your distrust, make you forget worldly obligations, and stimulate childlike imagination. Of course, these sentiments must be supported by a functional backbone. I can't stand garments that seem flashy on the outside but lack substance.

8D : I deeply empathize with the notion that a robust worldview is directly linked to practical functionality. Going deeper, do you have a vision for how you'd like people to feel when wearing LUCA HAMERS?

L : I aspire for them to feel as if they've been invited into a different realm. I hope they enjoy our garments in the same way one would appreciate a piece of art. Art is unrelated to lifestyle, background, or the demands of the viewer. It resonates with us on a deeper level, evoking a clear sense of "this speaks to me" or "this doesn't." I want them to delight in wearing the clothes, while also becoming their true selves, and ultimately feeling like they're part of something greater than themselves.


8D : Thank you for your genuine response just now. Lastly, I'd like to express my gratitude to all the fans of LUCA HAMERS across the country and the readers of 8DIVISION.

L : Thank you for providing insightful questions. I'm grateful for the opportunity to meet you all on my first visit to Korea, and I'm thrilled about it. I look forward to meeting more interesting people in Korea. If you decide to purchase our work, I hope it serves you well.


8D : Hello SUGAR PUNCH. Before we start the interview, could you please introduce yourself to the readers of 8DIVISION?

THE SUGAR PUNCH (S) : Hello, it's nice to meet you. Our brand, THE SUGAR PUNCH, typically showcases design and creativity, drawing inspiration from a wide range of cultural elements. Our influences extend beyond manga and anime to music and film. Recently, we've collaborated on prestigious projects like 'GANTZ' and 'Ghost in the Shell.'

8D : The collaboration with GANTZ, which was incredibly popular in the early 2000s, was truly exciting for us, especially since we grew up reading the manga. I'm curious if there are any other manga series you'd like to collaborate with in the future if given the opportunity.

S : Our mission includes collaborating with a wide range of manga and anime, from hidden gems that I personally love to well-known classics. Unfortunately, we've lost many great creators recently, which makes me want to revisit the classics I enjoyed in the past. It feels like rediscovering old joys with a new perspective, and the excitement I felt before is rekindled.


8D : Personally, I find that THE SUGAR PUNCH's work often evokes a sense of nostalgia. What do you think sets THE SUGAR PUNCH apart from other fashion brands?

S : What sets our brand apart is our unique approach to creatively using art materials to capture the essence of manga and anime in our designs, unlike other companies that start from scratch. We focus on designing in a way that brings to life the images fans have in their minds of their favorite manga and anime. This approach helps us create designs that truly connect with fans and vividly convey their cherished stories.

8D : Your brand's philosophy is impressive, but the quality of your products is also remarkable. Could you share a few words about the know-how and production process that make this possible?

S : At THE SUGAR PUNCH, we aim to elevate anime merchandise to the next level. Thanks to our skilled production team in Tokyo, we've been able to delve deeply into the accuracy of vintage styles and achieve a perfect fit, which we are incredibly proud of. We believe that when people experience our products firsthand, the quality speaks for itself. Every step, from selecting the highest quality materials to making meticulous design adjustments for a refined feel, involves close collaboration with artisans to ensure the final product reflects our vision. Our commitment to handcrafting—from dyeing to adding unique finishes—allows us to fully integrate the creativity of anime and manga into fashion. Paying attention to every detail is essential to create something truly special.


8D : It was a conversation that truly conveyed your deep affection for your dedicated fans. Finally, could you share a few words for THE SUGAR PUNCH fans and 8DIVISION readers across the country?

S : We are excited to continue collaborating with manga to create products that not only look great when worn but also spark a collector's desire. Our goal is to surprise and inspire our customers with each piece. We hope to meet you in person soon in Seoul. Thank you for 8DIVISION's ongoing support for this popup.


8D : Hello ALIVEFORM. Could you please provide a brief introduction for the readers of 8DIVISION before the interview?"

ALIVEFORM (A) : Hello. I am the founder and designer of ALIVEFORM, originally from Singapore and currently residing in Japan. We have a great passion for the design concept of our brand.

8D : From its futuristic atmosphere to captivating shapes that grab attention, the FLAINE collection is filled with elements that may seem unfamiliar but are intriguing nonetheless. Please briefly describe the FLAINE collection.

A : FLAINE is a linguistic play combining the words "flame" and "vine." It represents the passionate energy of flames and the organic growth of vines. To me, nature symbolizes growth and movement, drawing inspiration from the eternal cycles observable through seasons and time.

8D : The inspiration drawn from nature seems to be central to the collection. I'm curious about the story that began with the theme you mentioned.

A : While taking a stroll around the neighborhood, I happened to notice several instances of nature reclaiming urban spaces. Vines climbing steep walls, tree roots growing endlessly, piercing through fences, and vegetation covering abandoned buildings, giving them a green hue from afar—all reminded me of the relentless force of nature. This led me to envision designs featuring structures wrapping around shoes like vines or veins, or even engulfing them like flames. While 3D printed shoes might seem unfamiliar to customers in Korea, the technology behind it is rapidly evolving.


8D : Yeah, it's still a bit unfamiliar. What are the advantages of shoes made with 3D printing?

A : Through 3D printing, we can achieve shapes and forms that were previously impossible with traditional shoe manufacturing, opening up more possibilities in the design field. Comfort, which is often overlooked, is one of the strengths, and the ability to adjust hardness and softness in various areas means we can design shoes that take comfort to the next level. Environmentally friendly 3D printing means there's no waste since only what's needed is printed, eliminating leftover shoes. Plus, waste generated during the 3D printing process for shoes is minimal compared to traditional shoe production. Striving to be an eco-friendly brand is why we also take pre-orders at pop-up events like 8DIVISION, not just on our website.

8D : The fact that there's more creative potential excites me. Could you recommend a cool and unique pair of ALIVEFORM products that are easy to wear, despite feeling unfamiliar?

A : The FLEINE CORE features details like pointed toes that give the design a unique edge, yet it can be worn casually for everyday use due to its understated design. On the other hand, the FLALIN VEIN, inspired by seashells and cacti, showcases a distinctive design filled with shell-like elements throughout the shoe, resembling dynamic vines enveloping the entire structure.


8D : We're stoked to expand not only the brand's concept but also a new perspective on production overall. Finally, we'd like to ask you a word to ALIVEFORM fans in Korea and readers of 8DIVISION.

A : Thanks for the great question. Looking forward to seeing you at the popup real soon!