MR PORTER ‘The Japan Edit’ - Lono Brazil III

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Born to a Japanese mother and American father, Mr Lono Brazil grew up between Japan and the USA before settling in Tokyo in his mid-20s. Now he serves as director of Union Tokyo – the latest outpost of the cult LA store, which Mr Brazil has been instrumental in making a success – while working with Nike to support local running communities in the city. As part of the “Japan Edit” project in collaboration with luxury menswear retailer MR PORTER, we met up with him at Union and the neighbourhood he remembers from childhood, just behind Yoyogi park /

What initially got you interested in fashion?

Originally my parents were in the music industry which, especially when it comes to nightlife, I feel is really close to fashion. Its all connected. So I grew up seeing all that. Once I stopped playing basketball after college or when I was getting close to ending my career I was looking back to what I have around me and my parents were a big influence. Coming back to Tokyo and seeing my mother and being around my mothers friends, who were in the music and fashion industry, I just put the two together. I felt like I wanted to bring back the good part of fashion and all that to Japan in a cool and accurate way. Thats how it started.

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”I feel like I have a sports-oriented reference to Fashion, just because I grew up around sports and I feel comfortable wearing sportswear.”

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Can you describe you personal style?

I feel like I have a sports-oriented reference just because I grew up around sports and I feel comfortable wearing sportswear. But at the same time I do like clothes that are not too out there but have a good basis in streetwear or the basic pieces I wore growing up. Nothing too outlandish or left field but creative enough that its unique. Obviously quality is always key to all that. I try not to wear something that other people are wearing. I feel by the time people are getting onto something I have moved on. Living in such a condensed city like Tokyo, trends are way too obvious – people can start to look like clones. By the time its a trend you have probably decided whether you like that style or not, so you have probably gone through or never touched it.

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What’s interesting to you about Japanese fashion?

I believe some of it has to do with the history, some of it has to do with the characteristics of Japanese people, a lot of it has to do with the language barrier and Japan being an island nation. The Japanese ended up finding these things from elsewhere and they kind of created their own story, their own interpretation of the western world. Having that history of not having access and all of a sudden being opened up, with all this information coming in, it has brought them to where they are. That is why they are so good at finding references that are culturally referenced and not just picking one design and copying it. There’s more layers to it and thats what they are good at – wanting to know more and conquering what they do.

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What’s special to you about this neighbourhood?

Growing up between Tokyo and the USA, I was always back and forth, but Yoyogi Hachiman is where I remember being as a little kid. My elementary school is literally five minutes from where we shot so I literally saw this city grow from here. At the same time we always walked to Shibuya and we saw all the crazy parts of it but there is such a contrast from all that mayhem to where we are now. I feel really comfortable here. Even me being mixed race in a country where you would think I would have difficulties around that, I actually really liked it and I always felt like I belonged here. I always have a nostalgic feeling going through the area.


All clothing available exclusively at MR PORTER -

Words / James Oliver @jamesolver_tno
Images / Kento Mori @kentomori
Stylist / Masataka Hattori @masataka_hattori

Culture, ArtGraeme Gaughan