Business of HYPE: Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki
Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. For today’s episode, we sit down with Co-Founders of Maison Kitsuné, Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki.
Since 2002, Maison Kitsuné has been reinterpreting French classics through a chic and modern lens. The name derives from an amalgamation of two cultures — Maison is french for house and Kitsuné is japanese for fox (also their logo). The brand has a dual nature, calling upon inspiration from Japanese and Parisian influences thanks to the eclectic background of the two co-founders.
Born in Japan, Masaya moved to Paris when he was 12 and studied architecture while working at a thrift shop across the street from French native, Gildas, who had been working at a local vinyl store. They crossed paths while Gildas had been working with famed electronic duo Daft Punk, and when an opportunity to produce a movie in Japan arose, he brought along Masaya. While there, they birthed the idea of Maison Kitsuné — a clothing label and popular record music label. The two began “following the music everywhere,” DJing all over the world while simultaneously networking to build their clothing label. When asked bout fashion’s close affiliation with music, the co-founders emphasized that the two cultures were a necessity of each other, at a time when social media did not exist.
“DJing is part of the job. At that time, it was hard for us to tell people who we were. Every single party you would meet at least 100 people and share your music, culture and clothing. Those kids at the time that we met are still our customers today. It’s a slow grind, but the connections are stronger.”
While it took eight years for them to build their brand, the two are neither in a rush to expand rapidly, nor are they fixated on being in the spotlight. Instead, they are more focused on the slow grind of building a strong brand with the upmost attention to detail and careful curation that aligns with their Japanese-French aesthetic. The brand has built a repertoire of creating strong relationships within the fashion industry, rather than being a one-trick pony.
More than 15 years later, Maison Kitsuné now has numerous stores and cafes worldwide with hundreds of employees. They remain as a stronghold in today’s lineup of successful lifestyle brands. For Gildas and Masaya, every counterpart of their business was never a gimmick, but always about expressing their everyday life of music, clothing and cafes.