Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida on the ideas behind Barbour’s military-inspired premium Beacon Heritage Collection
Die-hard fashion fan or not, you’ll know Barbour, a brand that’s a British establishment in itself. Its Beacon Heritage Collection is a more focused, specialised line that offers limited edition, high-tech pieces each season. Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida, the brains behind Beacon, has overseen it from small beginnings in 2009 to its orchestrated new autumn/winter 2012 collection.
The new season’s collection delves deeper into Barbour’s heritage while continuing to offer Yoshida’s deeply technical flair and functional designs. Military is the essential inspiration here, and camouflage print, deep olive tones and layered hoods weave themselves through a carefully thought-out selection of pieces.
Naturally, the focus is on the beauty of practicality – these pieces could ride out a storm. There’s also the introduction of knitwear and shirting for AW12 – an addition that will no doubt increase the head count at the loyal Beacon Heritage fanclub.
Dazed Digital: The Beacon Heritage collections have long struck a chord for customers wearing them for fashionable purposes, as opposed to practical. Why do you think this is exactly?
Tokihito Yoshida: For the last four to five years, there has been a spotlight on products that are properly made, and on the functionality of fashion. Because the collections were made in this way, people who are interested in products of this kind have found them attractive.
DD: Many heritage brands are enjoying massive success in the fashion world right now, and ‘heritage’ is a key word in the industry, especially in the British menswear scene. Why exactly do you think this is?
Tokihito Yoshida: Most brands that have archive or heritage lines started off in America, and as a market it has kicked off in Japan. Of course, in the UK there are a few archive or heritage brands left over, so heritage has become established as one of the categories of fashion and is now available globally.
DD: Your designs are highly technical. Is your passion for designing a look or feel of clothing or is it for function?
Tokihito Yoshida: Menswear has a few styles. One is to dress up – like wearing suits or tuxedo. And there are comfortable, everyday clothes as well. I personally like my holiday or casual clothes to be practical. Menswear usually has ‘tool-like’ functions, so everything should have a reason. Military clothes are the perfect example. With military clothes those pockets or patterns are not for visual reasons – they all have purposes, which are to put things in them.
DD: The brand archives date back to 1908. How long has it taken you to learn and study the extensive history of the brand’s designs?
Tokihito Yoshida: I always liked Barbour and I have personally been wearing it for the last 30 years. Before I took this job, I had all the catalogues that still existed and also saw some of the archive.
DD: Talk Dazed through your design process. Is there a particular place you go to design?
Tokihito Yoshida: Barbour Beacon is not really urbanwear – it is not for clubbing or going to restaurants. Instead, it is about suburbs and countryside, especially when people go somewhere at the weekend. I spend my weekends at my weekend house and go fishing, do some walking in the woods or the mountains. This is when and where I wear what I make and test the products. I may get new ideas for the next collections, too.
DD: Where do you source fabrics and materials for your Beacon Heritage designs?
Tokihito Yoshida: The main focal point is British tradition: waxed cotton, tweed, Ventile, etc. All are great fabrics for rain and cold protection.
DD: Talk us through the inspirations for the AW12 collection.
Tokihito Yoshida: For this collection, I featured British military wear from World War II. Not all of the collection is from this idea, but the theme is one of the biggest influences.
DD: Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Tokihito Yoshida: Firstly, the mountain parka jacket, and I made a tweed jacket to go with it, too. These are for casual walks in mountains in autumn and winter. The next is the military jacket I talked about before. I got the inspiration from British military wear in World War II. If you are a military fan, you will imagine a pullover-type jacket. But in order to ensure its functionality, I made it as a normal jacket.
DD: What would you say is the one essential item that a man shouldn’t be without?
Tokihito Yoshida: It is a difficult question to answer. (laughs) This has got nothing to do with what I do for Barbour but to have the best clothes you could wear on a special day – for you or your children’s wedding or going out with your beloved wife, anything – is very important, I think.
Text by Al Mulhall
Photography Rowan Corr, Max Parsons
Hair Roku Roppongi at Saint Luke using Bumble and Bumble
Make-up Nobuko Maekawa using Chanel AW12 and Rouge Allure Renovation
Models Ben at Select, Elliot at Elite