The sensibilities of two men who defined an era, now in tangible form.
Kikuo Ibe, one of the developers behind G-SHOCK watches, and NIGO®, a fashion designer who has had a hand in many collaborative models in the past, are working together as a powerful team. To achieve their vision of a design that incorporates expressions that have never before been seen, the pair poured out ideas on everything from the exterior coating to the design of parts and the packaging. A new breath of life can be seen in these two models, which incorporate bold, new designs and the gratitude of achieving a history of 35 years.
Hello to all fans of G-Shock! This is NIGO®.
To celebrate G-Shock’s achievements in selling 100 million units over 35 years, I recently collaborated with Mr. Ibe, the Father of G-Shock, to create two very special models that express our gratitude to the fans.
Tell us about “street culture”.
NIGO® : Well, let’s see. Street culture? I’m often associated with the term, but I’ve never thought about myself in that particular way. But there’s no question that those fashions that are mainstream now came from the streets. When you look at the luxury brands and the products they are putting out, you can see the street influence. But I’m not really conscious of such things when I do what I do. My look has basically not changed in 30 years: I think that jeans, a T-shirt, and a G-Shock are as simple as can be, and stylish, too.
You've collaborated with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton to create products influenced by street culture. Are you considering working on similar projects in the future?
NIGO® : In 2003, I worked on designs for sunglasses with Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, but to be honest I don’t have much interest in doing something like that now. On the other hand, I could say that creating a G-Shock watch would make me very happy and is something I’d definitely be interested in. Even so, collaborations in general are something I don’t have any particular desire for now. But the opportunity to work with G-Shock on this project is something I’ve always wanted, and had me throwing both hands up in the air!
You’ve said that you’ve liked G-Shock for a long time. Tell us about your connections and relationship with G-Shock up to now, as well as your thoughts on craftsmanship.
NIGO® : My first model was probably the one I bought when I was a senior in high school. At that time, G-Shock already occupied an important position in the world of fashion, and its watches often appeared in magazines. They’re really very simple, but they have an attractive design and of course are highly functional as well. These were all major topics at that time, too. Just the fact that the same designs continue to be popular today is a testament to how great they are. Maintaining that kind of design continuity is the greatest challenge, and I think that we’ll see G-Shock’s designs continue to live on forever. Designs that last are one of the things that I am always striving for in my own creations. A design that is a constant no matter what era we live in, creating something like that is the most difficult thing. It’s not at all hard to create a design that will enjoy some popularity during a particular period, but it’s truly difficult to make something that is both simple and will stay with us for a long time.
Do you remember the model of the first watch that you bought or received?
NIGO® : I don’t quite remember exactly. But I probably still have it in storage. I’ll have to take a look! (laughter)
G-Shock has been involved in creating a number of collaborative models up to now. How do you feel about these?
NIGO® : The interesting thing about G-Shock watches has always been their fashionability. It’s not only the hardcore G-Shock fans now who want one, but fashionable people, too. I think it’s fun to see the sense of competition among such people. It never fails--when a new product comes out, people start talking about it and lining up to buy one. That’s a strange and interesting thing.
Has anything throughout this project made a particular impression on you?
NIGO® : I was able to communicate whatever ideas came to mind, and Mr. Ibe was interested in what I had to say. We were able to accomplish things that aren’t normally so easy. I think the response you frequently hear is, “Oh, we can’t do that,” but for this project, I really was given encouragement to freely voice my ideas, and we produced as many ideas as we could think of. The finished models have become what they are because of what Mr. Ibe and I strove to do together. It was one of the great experiences of my career.
G-Shock has surpassed a total sales figure of 100 million watches. What are your thoughts on this?
NIGO® : If you think about the population of Japan being around 100 million people, it feels like everyone in Japan has one, doesn’t it? G-Shock is incredible.
I think another amazing thing is that G-Shock has captured the hearts of people all around the world. As a Japanese person, no matter how much I make it my focus to take my creations from Tokyo and spread them around the world, although they might become popular for a brief moment, like the bursting of fireworks, it’s extremely difficult to keep the momentum going and continue to have strong sales all over the world. I believe G-Shock has reached 100 million units sold because they have been able to achieve such continuity, and I view being able to do so as the goal for my own creations.
What are your feelings on the sales raffle for 35 units of the new limited-edition models?
NIGO® : I talked with Mr. Ibe about how we wanted to create something interesting together, something celebratory that incorporated our gratitude for 100 million G-Shock watches sold and 35 years of G-Shock. Of course we wanted our creations to reach as many people as possible, but due to a number of reasons, we were limited to making 35 watches for each model. Although it will be tough to get one, everyone still has a chance, so I’d definitely like to see a lot of people register. I think we have achieved some good models that seem like they should have existed but didn’t, models that I would want to wear myself.
Give us your thoughts on the 5600 series and 6900 series, which were used as the base models.
NIGO® : The 5600 is the basic model for G-Shock, and we chose this one because it’s definitely the one that we wanted to work on first.
The 6900 series has served as the basis for a number of collaborative models I’ve worked on in the past, so I have quite an attachment to it. Pharrell and Kanye wear 6900s, too, and we selected the series because it symbolizes the street.
Let's wrap up with a message to the fans.
NIGO® : Although it might be tough to get one of these commemorative models that we’ve worked on, everyone has the chance to do so, and it would make me very happy to see lots of people register for the sales raffle. I’m hoping to see a lot of people sign up.
NIGO® first took the world by storm with his own fashion brand in the 1990s, which catapulted him into a position as a street culture pioneer. NIGO® made a clean break from the brand in 2011, and has since branched out into various fields. In addition to producing designs for his own brand, HUMAN MADE®, he has served as creative director for a number of projects with global companies including Uniqlo’s UT Collection, iQOS by Philip Morris, YOHO! (China’s leading youth culture magazine), and a collaborative label with CyberAgent, an Internet TV and ad company. At the same time, NIGO® continues to wield considerable influence in the music world; the artists, sounds, and visuals he has produced have received numerous awards. The multitalented NIGO®’s reach extends beyond fashion, including being a producer and DJ for the hip hop group HONEST BOYZ®, designing album artwork and merchandise for the girl group Happiness, producing a collaborative event with the STUDIO SEVEN label directed by NAOTO of Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE, and producing the Curry Up restaurant.
About Kikuo Ibe
Born in 1952, Kikuo Ibe earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Faculty of Science and Technology of Sophia University in 1976, before joining Casio. Initially assigned to the Design Department, Ibe was involved in digital watch construction development. In 1981, he proposed a rugged watch that would not break even if dropped and began developing a shock-resistant construction. After two years of hard work, the first G-SHOCK was released. Ibe later oversaw product planning for the MR-G series of G-SHOCK watches with a metal exterior and the OCEANUS line of full metal watches equipped with radio-controlled, solar-powered systems. While continuing to be active in watch development, Ibe also participates in G-SHOCK events around the world as the father of G-SHOCK, working to expand the global reach of the brand.