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Recently we were lucky enough to sit down with 'Yu Katayama' from Listen Flavor to discuss the current situation in Japan and their goals for the year ahead.

[AMP]:
First of all, how are you? and how are things in Tokyo at the moment with regards to the current situation?


[Listen Flavor]:
I'm good thank you. I'm even busier than before the COVID situation.
The situation in Tokyo is somewhat weird. Although we were once relieved from the state-of-emergency declaration, the number of patients is still increasing day by day and it became even more than before the declaration! For that reason, people are avoiding coming to Tokyo.

The shops and restaurants are re-opened as before, but the customers are not coming back as they used to be. Most people are still keeping staying at home and afraid of being infected. On the other hand, the people who got tired of staying at home are going out a lot.

It is a kind of ironic that the people going out are spreading the threat of infection but also helping the shops not to go bankrupt.

Nobody can tell which is right and which is not.

Everything seems to be unpredictable as the situation changes every day much faster than our expectations.
However, we are struggling to find a way to ‘live together’ with the virus.

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[AMP]:
Everyone is dying to know how did one of the most famous Harajuku Brands in fashion start out? When was the beginning of the road for you?


[Listen Flavor]:
Before we opened the store in Harajuku, the founder of the company started his business as a T-shirt speciality brand for retailers. It was nothing special at the beginning. We started as a small company with a small business.

Shortly after a while, I (a designer) and Yu-san (a director of the brand) joined the company.
From that point, the way our brand should go became much clearer. The name of the brand ‘LISTEN FLAVOR’ came from the graphic of the T-shirt that I designed which became the first small hit from the brand founded before LISTEN FLAVOR. At that time, the former brand name was not officially registered yet, so we changed it to... LISTEN FLAVOR.

It was a kind of funny story that one day in the morning, the founder of the company went out, and when he came back after a few hours, he said he found a good location for a new store in Harajuku. I didn't even know what he went out for!

For a small company which had just launched its business, finding the vacant property in Harajuku, especially around Takeshita street, is almost like a miracle as we all knew how hard it is. However, it happened by chance.

That is how we started ‘LISTEN FLAVOR’ as in the shape of the brand you may all recognise today.

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[AMP]:
Listen Flavor has such a distinct feel to it, a lot of UK-based fans of your brands would love to know where the inspiration for the collections comes from?


[ListenFlavor]:
This is a frequently asked, yet ‘hard to answer’ kind of question because the source of inspiration comes from everywhere.

It is like gathering particles of raw culture floating around the streets of Harajuku. We mix, mash and stir them up together and extract the essence from it.
The extracted essence is always containing what people are interested in right now, what is striking their hearts, and how they adapt it to their lives. What we do is to bring that to the shape of fashion. The most important thing is to catch up with the ‘real’ and ‘raw’ culture born just now in the street of Harajuku.

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[AMP]:
As with most companies, the current situation has made people think about diversification in certain areas of their business. We can see you have moved into the production of masks. Is this a product line you think will be a trend that you will keep moving forward after the pandemic? Would Listen Flavor also look at potentially diversifying into Bags and Footwear?


[ListenFlavor]:
About the masks, we are not sure, to be honest. Because the world we want to live in is the world we can live without masks. But until that day comes, yes, we will keep producing them as it is becoming a part of fashion, at least for now.

Regarding Bags and Footwear, we always have been thinking about producing them. To tell you the truth, we were making them in the past. However, the product line has been suspended for many reasons but it is always in our minds. So it will be coming someday in the future.

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[AMP]:
As we are now half-way through 2020, Do you have anything exciting planned for the 2nd half of the year?


[Listen Flavor]:
I really hope so. We had to change all the schedules for this year. And some ‘surprising’ plan was also postponed. We are still re-scheduling all the plans, including new collaborations. I can't tell if they can be announced within 2020 or will be 2021 but it is definitely coming in the near future. Besides that, the forthcoming regular collections will be exciting as well as the other surprising plans. So please expect that too.

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[AMP]:
As we know, Listen Flavor has sponsored on many occasions our event ‘Animangapop’ for which everyone is truly grateful. Up till this point did you know much about the Japanese POP-Culture Scene in the UK?


[Listen Flavor]:
We knew that Lolita Fashion is quite popular in the world, especially in Europe. However, when it comes to the POP-culture, I never knew it is that much popular until we collaborated with ‘DANGANRONPA.’I then realised how much The Japanese POP-Culture is loved by so many people when I was invited to the Anime convention in the US.

So I am very much looking forward to seeing the Japanese POP-Culture fans in the UK someday. Personally, the UK is a very special place for me because London is the place where I studied Art for four years. I am expecting to ‘come back’ to the UK one day.

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[AMP]:
What do you think about the current wave of streaming Conventions that are happening around the world at the moment? Do you think they will have a place in the future and might coexist with physical conventions?


[Listen Flavor]:
In a way, Yes, I think it depends on what they provide. For instance, the subject which can go well with internet-based technologies like Games and Music that can provide the ‘experience’ would succeed in that way too.

However, for the subject in which you can get more information from physical contacts, such as Cameras, Cars, Musical instruments, and Fashion! The proper place to touch and try them will be required. But even for these subjects, the streaming Convention is attractive enough to draw people's attention.

Therefore, I think the coexistence of streaming and physical Conventions is rather preferable for the future.

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[AMP]:
We know that Listen Flavor has attended some conventions in the US before. Do you attend local Japanese events to showcase your brand?


[Listen Flavor]:
I have to say NO to that question.

In fact, there are not many events related to fashion held in Japan except for the so-called 'High-Fashion.' Meanwhile, well-known events like 'Design Festa' are mainly open for individual artists and designers. The other famous events for fashion are only open for companies. So there are not many chances to introduce our collection in a particular event.

Instead, as some of you might have already noticed, Social Media has become the greatest place to introduce the brand. Recently we are pouring more energy into it. So please check out if you haven't.

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[AMP]:
We understand that our parent company ‘POP Nippon’ had organised 2 x Fashion Shows for Listen Flavor this year in Spain and Germany but due to the Pandemic these had to be cancelled. Are you looking forward to meeting some of your European fan-base when we are through this current crisis?


[Listen Flavor]:
Of course! By all means! Almost everyone around me who had a plan to attend the overseas event had to cancel their participation this year.

I can imagine how much they were disappointed with the situation as I was disappointed so much. Even though nobody can predict what the situation is going to be like next year, most of us are believing things will be settled in a good way. No matter when it will be, we will be there for sure.

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[AMP]:
Thank you for taking your time to talk to us and we really hope and look forward to seeing you soon.


[Listen Flavor]:
Thank you! I hope I will see you all soon.



You can find out more above Listen Flavor and their awesome range of products by following their social media and/or visiting their website. All listed below.

Website: https://listenflavor.com/
Blog: https://ameblo.jp/ilovelistenflavor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/listenflavor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/listenflavor_harajuku/
Hi everyone, we hope you are keeping safe and well?

As you may be aware, back in late 2019 Animangapop announced it was taking a gap-year to allow the re-charge of the team's batteries after 7 consecutive years of successful events, along with year-on-year growth of attendee's. Little did we know at this point what 2020 had in store for us all around the corner...

Now 6 months into 2020 and hopefully turning a corner on the fight against the pandemic, people are looking towards the future and so goes the same for the team here at HQ. We announced earlier in the year that Animangapop has announced new event's to be taking place in the locations of Glasgow, Brighton, Newport and of course Plymouth. The production and organisation still continues with these events and we hope to have more news on these in the not too distant future. One thing we can say for certain though is that there will be no events in 2020 from us. The safety of all our team and attendee's is of the utmost importance.

Depending on how the Covid situation develops in 2021, the team do have some things planned to make sure we give back to our community as much as possible. You can keep up to date with these things by joining our mailing list by visiting https://www.animangapop.co.uk or following us on all social media platforms.

Don’t forget, you have until the 31st of July to Pre-Order the last of the Animangapop Weekender enamel pin badges before they are put into retirement. Closing a book on the history of Animangapop so far.

That’s all for now.
Hi everyone!

Welcome to the First post of the Animangapop Blog!

This is where it all began.

Regards
Animangapop Team
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