Interviews

NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma

7 September 2022

END. sat down with Nanamica's founder, Eiichiro Homma, to discuss necessity, function and his debut collaboration with Puma.

The well-known proverb that necessity is the mother of invention is something that can be traced back as far as B.C.; an adage centred around solutions that integrate with and elevate everyday life. In many ways, this philosophy is something that sits at the very core of Eiichiro Homma’s design approach; throughout his decades spent as a designer, under a slew of outputs ranging from The North Face Purple Label to his very own Nanamica, Homma has been steadfast in propelling technical innovation forward, both in terms of the details used and the materials employed.

But not just for the sake of frills or outright functionality, but rather with the aim of creating the best possible garments for everyday life. Pieces are crafted with a harmonious balance of aesthetics and function — an amalgamation of the refined, the elevated and the technically advanced. Since being founded in 2003, the Nanamica mantra has remained unwavering: to take foundational, classic pieces and update them with technical fabrics and details beyond what is initially perceptible. Tees crafted from moisture-wicking COOLMAX®; beanies made using windproof GORE-TEX INFINIUM™; cardigans constructed from fast-drying ALPHADRY® — all of these perfectly capture the harmonious balance of aesthetics and everyday utility at the core of Nanamica.

With his debut collection with Puma, Homma leans in on this idea of balancing the everyday with the functional, transforming the iconic Suede sneaker using GORE-TEX technology. What results is the clean, classic aesthetic of the suede partnered with waterproof technology, reflecting the aesthetic-meets-function sensibility that’s deep rooted in Nanamica. To celebrate the launch of Puma and Nanamica's inaugural collaboration, END. sat down with the Japanese label's founder to talk technical design, elevating the everyday and the importance of the ever-iconic Puma Suede.

NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma

Your work has long been heavily rooted in function, while also maintaining a focus on aesthetics through refinement, cuts and the styling used in your coveted lookbooks. How do you go about balancing this with your work?

What I am most conscious of is whether or not I personally like it and how the garment makes me feel in this day and age. Functionality is our base, like a solid white garment for comfort, then we proceed to add an element of aesthetics.

Nanamica is centred around creating products designed to elevate everyday life. How important is this for you and your design approach?

Although my background was designing sportswear at Goldwin, Nanamica is a fashion apparel company. I use my prior experience to create products that can be worn everyday rather than being tied to a specific activity such as mountain climbing or sailing. This concept maximises our opportunities to improve the wearer’s daily comfort and lifestyle.

NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma

When you are designing a product, what do you look to first, the materials of the garment or its aesthetic?

Since functions are our base, research and development usually starts with the materials. Fortunately, there are many competitive fabric mills in Japan which we have close relationships with.

In terms of designing for necessity, rather than outright functionality, how do you know when to put the pen down with designs?

Since I have 18 years of experience designing sea and outdoor gear at Goldwin, as well as it being 20 years since I founded Nanamica, this gives me the experience to know what is necessary over specification.  

NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
"Although my background was designing sportswear at Goldwin, Nanamica is a fashion apparel company, where I use my prior experience to create products that can be worn everyday"

Given your love of technical materials and innovation, can you give us an insight into your background and how this passion started?

In terms of childhood, it’s a common story that a boy loves certain things — typically heroes or something mechanical. In my case, I loved mechanical things which lead to me having an interest in the research and development of functional garments.

You have worked pretty heavily with GORE-TEX throughout the years, often using the fabric in a way that’s understated or perhaps unexpected — like your signature Trench coats, for instance. How has this approach informed your collaboration with Puma?

In terms of my generation, I love ‘70s and ‘80s fashion. The approach of Nanamica is to take somewhat classic styles and update them by adding the latest technology, while still retaining the aspects original to the product.

NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma

Your career has included decades spent fine-tuning designs and working closely with performance materials. How has this approach informed your collaboration with Puma?

We have found it very comfortable and easy to communicate with the Puma team, since their personalities are all very welcoming and sympathetic.  

Can you give us an insight into your partnership with Puma and why you chose to rework the iconic Suede sneaker?

Reality is the most important thing for us. When we received a proposal from Puma, the style which my team and I primarily imagined was the Suede VTG. After we looked into Puma’s archives at the Puma House and considered a number of options, we decided to go with our original inspiration for our first collaboration.

NANAMICA X PUMA: Function & Necessity with Eiichiro Homma
writerJack Grayson
|photographerBianco Bianco
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