Toshi (JPN), jewelry designer, Tokyo

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‘Seventeen years ago, the visual kei-style was very popular in Japan. It’s comparable with the glam rock style. I didn’t like it and the jewelry was horrible, and with me being an accessory designer, I saw it as my time to leave. I moved to the UK and lived in Birmingham for 1,5 years before moving to London. I just returned to Tokyo last year. So I spent 17 years overseas, but the Brexit and the economy accompanying it were good reasons for me to come back. Raw materials such as silver were becoming too expensive, prices of everything kept going up, but the salaries didn’t, so it was becoming a struggle for a lot of people.’

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‘It’s good to be back here. I’m still getting used to it again, but the extreme safety strikes me, it’s crazy how comfortable that makes living here. Also, the food is good and cheap. Even though I lived in the UK for 17 years, I never really liked it. Looking back on it, I do feel sorry to say that. It’s always crowded, the grey weather, … But in some aspects I need to re-adapt to being home and that’s tough as well. I got used to the European style of relationships. My Japanese girlfriends now tell me I’m too kind. It says something about the general image of the Japanese men, right? What is normal for me now, is different from the general idea in Japan. Strange if you think about it: I was born here, but mentally I grew up there.’

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‘For my jewelry I draw inspiration from 80’s movies, since I grew up Robocop and the Goonies, and the futuristic pop-culture from back then. At first, when people see my creations, they might believe me to be a bit dark, but I assure you I’m not. I do like to keep it simple. Take this golden tip from an accessory designer: do NOT over-use accessories.’

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‘I forgot to advertise in Japan, so the biggest part of my sales go overseas.  Artists like Slash, Marilyn Manson, Travis Parker, DJ Mugs from Cypress Hill, metal bands as Anthrax wear my merchandise and they seem to like it. It’s not like I met all of them. They hear about my brand through friends or whatever. I always keep myself hidden, I don’t need to be in the spotlights, it’s my jewelry that counts. Actually, it’s funny, this all started when I was 17: one of my classmate’s ring broke and I fixed it for her. Don’t ask me why, but that made a lot of girls notice me. It was from then that I knew I wanted to be a jewelry designer!’

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