Back in July Tom Lammerse and I went to Tokyo, Japan to film for a video project for Vans. Besides riding we wanted to meet as many people as possible and we wanted to really see what the Tokyo/Japanese culture was like. Lahsaan kobza told us to go to Decade bmx shop and meet up with owner Hiroshi Uehara. Meeting Hiroshi was inspiring to say the least. From the Decade store we went to Meiji Jungu and while walking through this peaceful place we asked him some questions for this Orange Juice exclusive interview.
1. Let’s start with an introduction:
Hiroshi Uehara has his roots lying in BMX, he loves the sport and still rides flatland when he got time for it. Hiroshi was born in Okayama which is famous for quality Denim and jackets. This got him very interested in fashion on a young age. Right now he is the founder of 430 clothing and owner of 3 BMX/Fashion shops in Japan called Decade.
2. When you were a child and all those adults would ask you, “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” what did you say?
I wanted to be the clothing designer , and I did it.
3. Can you tell us about the jobs you had before FourThirty?
I used to work at a clothing shop in the town. My manager wouldn’t pay me if I sold nothing so that how I learnt how to sell apparel. After that I worked as an assistant of a clothing designer which thought me a lot about quality apparel and fashion overal. Lost but not least I was a Pro BMX rider for several years.
4. What made you decide to start your own clothing brand?
I had this vision which was focused on quality apparel, besides that I was still riding bmx so the apparel also needed to be strong enough for crashing etc. Not a lot of bmx brand focus on quality and not a lot of streetwear brands make apparel which is perfect for riding. So nobody was creating something I would wear. That’s why I decided to create his own brand in 1996.
5. Some people think that school isn’t important anymore when you start your own business. What is your opinion about that:
School is pretty important but more so because of the super good friend you make. In this world having good contacts really can make the difference. I actually didn’t go to fashion school but I did go to the university to learn more about the business side of things.
6. Thinking of a brand name is always really hard, how did you come up with FourThirty.
I started the brand on April 30th 1996, so therefore I decided to pick the birthdate of the brand as the brand name: 4-30
7. After he launched Fourthirty, he started his own shop called Decade, what was the main reason to start your own shop?
You can say that the Decade shop is a sort of nest. That’s why it’s so important to me. It’s not just a shop were you go in to buy clothing. It’s also a hang out for the local BMX scene. Besides that having a shop also makes it way easier to get in contact with new people. You guys visiting the shop is a perfect example.
8. Is it true that the first Decade shop was first your house?
yes, it was my house. More and more riders were chilling in my house and saw the 430 brand lying around. they bought it from me because they thought it was dope. So that’s why I decided to change my house into a shop. I was very lucky because the street where the shop is located was already a big shopping street with shops like: Supreme, Oakley, Pullin etc.
9. Which brands does Decade stock.
Mainly you can find FOURTHIRTY of course but other than that it stocks Carhartt, Emerica, G-shock, Decobmx and other small bmx brand and last but not least some Kendama brands. It is now possible to get our products worldwide because of our brand new online store.
10. How many Decade shops are there and how many employee do you have?
Right now there are 3 Decade shops in Japan. One in Tokyo, one in Okayama and the last one is located in Fukuoka. Right now I have 10 people working for the brand and/or for the shops.
11. What’s a normal day in the life of Hiroshi?
My days are mostly pretty simple:
Studying EXCEL (3%)
Drawing the clothing(4%)
Do fun stuff with my friends (90%)
It’s all about having fun with the right people around you. The rest will go easier if you spend enough time with the people you care about.
12. Hiroshi is one of the reasons why the bmx flatland scene is so big in Japan by creating videos, putting together events, opening shops, supporting riders, and even helping create magazines.
What are some of the projects that you are working on right now?
Right now I’m really busy with a big project for G-SHOCK. It’s called ‘Real Toughness’ and is basically organising BMX Battle Shows in China to promote G-shock. I’m also helping out with FlatArk the biggest Flatland competition in Japan. The winner takes all which is $40.000. Besides that I’m also working on some Kendama project with TV media. This is going to be awesome.
13. Back to Fourthirty. How can you describe Fourthirty, what makes you different than all the other apparel brands out there?
First of all the material. I’m a huge fan of Japanse manufacturing so I decided to search for factory’s which are located in Japan. It was really hard to find the right factory’s but I’m really happy with the ones we have now. Japanese quality is way better than anywhere else. Secondly the design are also completely different than other brand and last but not least the whole look and feel is different since I try to combine Streetwear with BMX.
14. So do you call Fourthirty a BMX clothing brand?
No I don’t want to put a stamp on 430. We are clothing brand, we are not only a brand for riders but that being said our creation do come from riders’. 430 is about traveling, meeting new people, riding, being outdoor, party etc….
15. A lot of BMX/skateboard brands sell there Tshirts for $25,-. Fourthirty is placed in a higher price range. Why did you made this decision?
Simply because we care about quality in the first place.
16. Every brand has his own supporters. You are sponsoring BMX professional Lahsaan Kobza How did that come around?
Lashaan is super nice guy! When he visit my shop he really loved our clothing. Besides that he has style and cares about what he is wearing. But overal he is just an awesome dude, don’t need any other reasons right?!
17. What is the best thing of having your own brand?
I have learnt in the time that I have my own brand that there is actually just one thing that is really amazing if you have your own brand. That is that you can make your own time. I learnt that time is most important thing in life. So why do you want to work for someone else and make long hours in the office.
18. Can you tell us about your future plans with Decade and Fourthirty?
After talking with you guys about BMX, culture, streetwear and fashion I feel like opening up a Decade shop in Amsterdam, haha. I feel like Amsterdam is a really interesting city with lots of energy!
19. When we left the park where the temple was located Tom and I left to search for some street spots but we promised to meet up with Hiroshi the next day. Last words he said was:
I have never been to Holland but now I have a reason to visit! Thanks for this awesome day and see you guys tomorrow.