Hi Max, tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, what inspired you to start KAIZEN?
Whilst living in Asia for a year (during my bachelor study) I realized that my entire understanding of what cultural difference is was shallow and wrong, And I was raised in a family that travelled a lot with an open mind… I wanted to create something that could communicate what I realized and found out over there and bring it back home. This idea became KAIZEN.
The brand is noted as being ‘where East meets West’ – have you spent time in Asia yourself? What’s your relationship with Asian culture?
As I just mentioned I lived in China for a year and I’ve travelled a lot. My relationship with Asia is one of appreciation and respect. I also believe that the West could learn a thing or two from how they solve problems over there.
Your recent debut capsule was designed around ‘Language’ and demonstrates playful ways that understanding can be represented. How did you come up with this idea?
The idea came to me when I tried finding a way to communicate the complexity of the issue at hand. I realized that without first acknowledging that language is and will continue to be the biggest barrier to mutual understanding, my goal would not be achieved. I think language and hopefully a playful use of it will continue to be something KAIZEN as a brand keeps on doing.
We co-hosted your launch event at the byAMFI store in Amsterdam. Tell us about the creatives you collaborated with for that pop-up project and how they interacted with the concept.
Yes! First of shout-out to byAMFI for having me and to SKANDL for putting it all together. To present the concept behind the capsule collection we worked with photographer Tiago Ventura and graffitti artist Lindert Steegen. Both incredibly talented people watch out for them!
Together with Tiago we did a photoshoot at the Zeedijk area in Amsterdam which I consider to be the place where East meets West in Amsterdam. What we tried to portray with the shoot was the experience a European person would go to when they visit a place like, for instance, Chengdu in China for the first time. We tried to conceptualize what it would look like and I think using the model and the different backgrounds it worked out quite well.
We asked Lindert if he could design and paint the walls of the pop-up store for us. Together we worked on a concept which would communicate that very neon but well known look Asian cities have at night. He did a sick job and made something truly unique.
Moving forward, what’s your next steps – how are you going to continue to attempt to break down cultural barriers?
Our first step is to kinda ride the wave off how well the current capsule is doing. In the mean-time we are hard at work to design our next collection in which we hope to showcase even more cultural phenomenon and keep doing our homework properly before we release anything new.