Hideyuki Kohama, CEO, Workman


“PB is about stepping up, taking responsibility and selling with confidence”

Before I became CEO, I put most of my effort into developing PB (private brand) products. From the beginning, the plan was to do our own production overseas without relying on third party outsourcing, so I asked about directly trading with suppliers, and I was taught everything about how to find a factory, starting with the basics. Our decision to exclusively focus on PB in-house production was “so that we could see the production process with our own eyes, and manufacture products under our own steam, using our own skills.” He concludes, by having staff making our goods rather than outsourcing them, “we show customers our commitment to them.”


Kazuhide Sekiyama, Director and Representative Executive Officer, Spiber Inc.


“Of the great number of ideas, the one that survived was spider webs”

In around the third year of high school, Sekiyama encountered the advanced biological researcher Masaru Tomita and later joined his laboratory at university. Time passed and he still had not discovered a subject to pursue. Just as he was about to call upon the services of a foreign researcher, Tomita told him, “Those who are really going to change the world will find their own subject. Do not rely on others.” “I argued,” he recalls, “but what he told me was not wrong,” and he started to think up his own subject. In his fourth year, he arrived upon spider webs.


Marty Pomphrey, General Manager, Patagonia Japan


“Make the third Friday a holiday”

Appointed General Manager of Patagonia Japan in October 2019, Pomphrey is working on resolving environmental issues, as well as managing the business in a way that gives due consideration to employee working style. Since December, he has made every third Friday a holiday. “If there is a long weekend once a month, everybody is refreshed and it is an effective way of boosting productivity. When people work to their limits all the time, they burn out,” he says. In addition to establishing a day off every month for directly managed stores, there are also positive flexible-work initiatives, including provision for working remotely to take care of staff who are raising children.


Nicolas Gerlier, CEO, La Bouche Rouge


“We are out of time. It is now or never.”

When I found out that cosmetics were one of the world’s top three environmental threats, we developed a lipstick that contains no microplastics. The brand name in French has the meaning of a person with a message. “Talking about a small thing like lipstick with others will make them think, and then understand that it is better not to use plastic. It is a small action, but it is vital that this feeling is shared by as many people as possible,” says Gerlier.


Kozo Murayama, President, Island Universe


“Going against the tide and pulling out of e-commerce took courage as a business leader”

The company pulled out of direct business in 2011 and in 2017, stopped offering online shopping and unified its wholesale business. “We did it because we felt that amid diversification of logistical structures and selling formats, it would be impossible to do e-commerce with the existing brand.” The end result is that the company has been able to give its undivided attention to finding new partners and to planning and development. This led to more business, improved products and better financial performance. “We are in an age in which a business model with clear targets is required,” he feels.


Keiji Kaneko, Conceptor and Buyer, L’ECHOPPE


“Go behind the brand, and get to the B side”

This may be a store that offers expensive fashion items, but customer numbers are growing, particularly among those in their 20s. About 80% of sales are custom orders, items they “want to wear because they are high quality, but who are not looking to buy the usual brands.” For clothes-loving contrarians who wish to avoid the popular brands, this is their first step towards buying that brand item, so it builds a “sanpo-yoshi” (win-win) relationship with both the supplier and the consumer.


Kozo Makiyama, President, Parco


“Fashion is not to be sneezed at after all”

Shibuya Parco got off to a good start. “The best thing was how well fashion went. It reaffirmed for me how many people there are out there who love clothes,” he says with glee. In all of it, “the best was taking up new challenges without regard to profit, and the response to the unique offering of this store.” In late November 2019, when the store opened, “I was stunned to sell this much clothing at a proper price.” The response was enthusiastic. “This was the result of being able to offer so many unique items. I love clothes, and this drove home to me that there are a lot of people in the market for clothes to dress up in their own special way.”