高橋說OIRA的成立沒有特別的原因，也沒有什麼理念，然而，品牌OIRA的命名是有緣由的。「我想以自己的姓名以外，但又跟『自分』（英文的I，日文解自己）相關的名字來命名。 昔日東京有江戶方言，而江戶方言中，OIRA就是解作自己。加上，我出生的關西地區的方言，會以『自分』來稱呼對方。例如說：『自分、何してるん？』（關西地區解作：你在做什麽？）這就是說，將對方看成是自己，並以言語表達出來，感覺很有日文這個語言本身的特色。假如穿著OIRA的服裝能夠成為一種看清事物和自己本質的行為，則是非常幸福的事。 」
It takes around a week to recover from a cold and the flu. The pain of losing a pet which has accompanied you day and night can linger for six months or even longer. While talking about his recent developments, Japanese artist Takahashi Yuhi mentioned his black cat Nero, which passed away last September. “We used to share weal and woe, and then I have mourned him night and day, being plunged into deep sadness and failing to find the motivation to do anything.” With the passage of time, Takahashi gradually got back on his feet and began to design custom-made clothes for clients while busy coming up with pieces for his next exhibition. “I’m going to experiment with something new in the upcoming exhibition. I’m collaborating with a friend who works at a long-standing tailor’s shop, with which I’m co-designing a few suit jackets.”
Last December, Takahashi organized an exhibition titled exhibition oira at Poubelle, an arts gallery in Tokyo, in which he showcased his brand OIRA’s autumn and winter collections. Until then, he has refrained from designing clothes in black, which can be easily interpreted. However, now that his black cat is gone, he cannot stop thinking about black clothes. He has designed two wool suit jackets in black with red silk lining fabric, which conveys his thoughts about classism. “Based on the theory of the five elements, black belongs to the winter season. Black is not only the representative colour of the Qin Dynasty in China but also of criminals. In the Western world, prior to the Industrial Revolution, natural dye had been used all along, including walnut coal dye. It was not until after the Industrial Revolution that synthetic black dye was invented, thereby giving birth to the real black colour. In Britain, it became the colour of clothes worn by the working class, and went on to become the frequent choice of colour for formal suits. In Japan, like elsewhere, the symbolic meaning of black has evolved over time, from the black on fishermen’s tattoos, serfdom’s black, the black representing class, samurai’s black to mourning dress’s black.” Perhaps the enthusiasm with which Takahashi spoke about a piece of black clothing can be traced back to his beloved black cat.
It is difficult to put Takahashi Yuhi’s creations into one single basket. Apart from designing clothes, he also creates sculptures. He follows his heart’s desire, making short videos and organizing exhibitions, with his creative desire naturally bringing creations to fruition. There is a touch of ambiguity in his creations, which boast a free spirit and carry a dose of mystery, beckoning others to examine them up close. “As far as contemporary fashion design goes, it is difficult to come up with completely new designs. The same goes for other art forms, including movies, music and art. If one designs with one single theme or motif, it can be easily interpreted as imitation or plagiarism. However, if five or ten motifs are used instead, it can be regarded as original.” Perhaps this explains why Takahashi Yuhi describes his art style as “montage”. Stripping away the elements of time, place and people, every single creation or creation process resembles a short shot, which together combines to form a story or an engrossing film through a series of spots, angles, distances or filming techniques.
Growing up in the countryside of Hyogo prefecture in Japan, Takahashi Yuhi could only gain an understanding of the outside world through a tiny television at home. Through this tiny screen, he discovered the charm of the movie world. Oftentimes he would be glued to the television screen, his pair of eyes shining in wonder. “I still love movies, like I did before. Movies have also become my savoir and taught me a great deal. The long stream of movie history from 1890 has served as my source of inspiration, including various fashion motifs, themes, decorations, culture and history.” Among his favorite movies feeding his inspiration are The Masseurs and a Woman (1938), Fellini Roma (1972) and Ip Man 3 (2015). Thanks to his profound and broad interests in movies, it is little wonder that photoshoots featuring his clothes and his short videos always bear the hallmarks of a movie. “If I have to list my favourite artists and movie directors, the list will go on and on. Also, I often observe those around me, and I manage to derive a lot of inspiration from their body, postures, movements and inner world. I think clothes will alter our body silhouette in accordance with our body movements. If we are able to capture this moment with our eyes, I can say that it is somehow similar to the abstract shape of sculptures.”
Takahashi handcrafts OIRA’s each and every item, the process of which involves a great deal of hand weaving. That is why the production of many of his clothes is considerably time-consuming. Nevertheless, handcrafted quality is not something he intends to highlight. “The current mode of modern fashion and mass production boasts only a few decades of history, and I don’t regard my production style as an advantage. I always take into consideration the overall balance of my fashion collection as well as the balance of each item in itself. Therefore, I take care not to go too over the top.” While currently almost all of OIRA’s fashion items are produced in very limited quantities, Takahashi does not consider it as absolutely necessary. “Quite the opposite, I hope to be able to cherry-pick a number of items for mass production. In addition, I’d also like to organize a fashion show reminiscent of classical theatre.
Takahashi admitted that he did not establish OIRA for any particular reason, nor is there a concept behind it. However, there is a story behind the brand name. “I want to name my brand after something related to Jibun (自分), which means ‘I’ in Japanese, without using my own name. There used to be an Edo dialect spoken in Tokyo in which OIRA means ‘I’. Also, in the Kansai region, where I’m originally from, Jibun is being used to address the other party. For example, ‘Jibun, nani shiterun?’ means ‘What are you doing?’ in Kansai. In other words, Kansai people see the other party as their own selves, and express this through language. This appears to be a very distinct characteristic of the Japanese language. If by wearing OIRA’s clothes one can gain a clear understanding of things and their own selves, that will bring me lots of happiness.”