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FÖTUS: Fashion reborn

FÖTUS (フェトウス) Designer Masahiro Saito

You expect a very flashy person behind the cybertech fashion label FÖTUS, but Masahiro Saito (1958) is actually quite down-to-earth and almost shy

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FÖTUS LogoHis designs on the other hand aren’t shy at all. They shout out loud in neon pink, blue, green and other colors that capture your eyes with their intensity. Even his black and silver designs scream for attention.

Saito is that rare artist who can fool you into thinking that black is a color. What Ferrari does to cars, Saito does to clothes. He gives them sharp sexy lines that transforms the wearer into a different being. Saito can take a traditional yukata (Summer kimono) and create something that makes you look like you will blast off into space any moment. His clothes are straightforward, they accept no ambiguity, they demand ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from you.

Japanese cyber fashion brand FÖTUS

Full of Opportunities

“In Japan, if a magazine or someone else doesn’t say that something is good, it is not good. I really dislike that,” explains Saito. “I want to make clothes that say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. ‘I like what I like. I dislike what I dislike.’ Japan doesn’t have a brand like that at the moment.” Thanks to Saito and his brand FÖTUS (German for ‘fetus’), Japan now does have a brand exactly like that. As the name implies, his brand announces the birth of something new, of expectations, of hope.

It is about the future and about not taking things for granted. “People often accept things the way they are. Kids are different. They ask ‘what’ and ‘why’. I want to be like that. We don’t know the future. It is full of opportunities.” Saito wants his customers to jump at these opportunities and expresses this message with his design concept. “You often hear ‘this brand can not be worn with that brand’. I want the wearer to have a playful mind and put things together freely.”

FÖTUSFÖTUS

Glay and Pierrot

Saito started FÖTUS in September 1997. “Not to get rich. I just wanted to make something special.” FÖTUS immediately found followers among DJ’s, musicians and their fans. Jiro of Glay, Miyavi, and the members of Pierrot fell in love with Saito’s clothes and so did their fans. Most of his customers are between 16 and 25, more than half of them female. They need courage to wear his clothes. “My favorite material is polyester, and I love neon colors, especially blue.” That combination is guaranteed to make the wearer stand out in any crowd. Saito also makes use of cotton and nylon. Not all of his designs look like bright neon lights. Many of his designs are in black. Not a subdued wallflower kind of black, but a black that shines back at you as if it were a color.

Japanese fashion brand FÖTUS

Narita Express

Saito finds his inspiration in the world around him. Any visual cue will get him going. He will take the Narita Express to Tokyo’s international airport and start thinking about the colors of the train. “When I see the red, black, gray and light-gray of the train I start contemplating the balance of these colors. With the same colors you can create something very futuristic and something that isn’t futuristic at all. It all depends on the balance.” He points at a horizontal line on his shirt. “If I put this line lower it doesn’t look good anymore. I always think about these kind of things, the use of colors and the shift of lines.”

Saito is also fascinated by the power of an item’s application. “Design is influenced by use.” He points at different glasses standing on the table.” All these glasses can be of different design, but the base is the same. To make beer, whiskey or juice taste better the design of the glass changes. In this glass (he points at the large glass in front of him) juice tastes better. In that one (he points at a glass at the bar) whiskey tastes better. I want to make clothes like that.”

Japanese fashion brand FÖTUS

Way Back When

Saito has always had this fascination with design. “Even when I was a kid I was interested in architecture, interior design and clothes.” As a toddler he carried a huge notebook around in which he drew designs of cars. In elementary school his teachers got upset about all the drawings that came with his homework. “Your parents are not buying a painting, they are buying you an education,” quipped one of them.

When he was as young as five years old he already bought his own clothes. “I didn’t like the usual clothes. I hated to be the same as others. So I always bought clothes with bright and loud colors. Blue and yellow bell bottom pants with red stripes for example. My parents would tell me to return the clothes I bought. ‘Where do you think you’re going dressed like that?’ they’d say.”

He would also make his own creations. “I’d take the sleeves off a t-shirt and replace them with panty stockings in psychedelic colors. My friends must have thought I was really weird…” He pauses and smiles. “But that doesn’t really matter, does it? I just wanted to express myself.”

True Calling

Eventually Saito ended up studying graphic design. His career also started with illustration and graphic design. It was only much later that he found his true calling. “I started with creating prints for t-shirts and slowly got in deeper and deeper.” Everything he knows is self-taught. Saito never attended any fashion school. This has not held him back. His inborn curiosity drives him on. “I like to find things out for myself,” he explains enthusiastically. “And then I want to express what I have discovered.” His greatest hope? “I just want there to be many more people that learn to discover things for themselves.”

FÖTUS site

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

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Sep 15, 2005 (5087 days ago)

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Feb 8, 2008 (4211 days ago)

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