Ms. Chikako Asanuma, freelance buyer
One day she found the ideal shape that she had long been searching for; it was the Glenroyal wallet. We asked her what she looks for when choosing items and what attracted her to Glenroyal.
━When you hear the name Asanuma, many of you will immediately see the “liflattie ships” used since the company started.
We started the brand 10 years ago when I was in my late thirties. At the time, even I liked clothing, it is different from trying too hard to be much fashionable. Nevertheless, it didn’t mean that dressing too roughly or anything is okay. Even if I listened to the view of my friends, they said they want clothes that wearing with relax, being comfortable, and possible to easy care. All this is just common sense nowadays, but at the time, there weren’t a lot of clothes that exactly fitted that kind of bill.
Since I had searched all over for these special clothes myself, I knew that women would like a store where you could find these kinds of clothes all in one place. When I was talking to women about this idea, the brand concept of a “lifestyle lived in flat shoes” was born. It’s a style that goes with sneakers, Birkenstock-type sandals and other really comfortable shoes. Even when considering how a particular trend would fit in with the rest of our styling, we would not budge on this point.
━Do you have any buying policies?
I tend to favour brands with a manufacturing background. That is one thing that hasn’t changed for me from the past until now. Through my work as a buyer I’ve had the opportunity to tour the Trickers, Alfred Sargent and Mackintosh factories in Northampton, England. Buying usually involves selecting finished items on display at an exhibition, but being able to actually visit the site where items are made was a wonderful experience for me. This is what is at the base of many of the clothes most infused with the designer’s ideas that I tend to select.
At the store, I try to add a few of the items that I definitely want to sell; but even though I may over focus on those clothes, if my customers are not that interested, then I’ve put the cart before the horse. Conversely, even if I am confident that something really trendy will definitely sell, I sometimes don’t offer it because it doesn’t work well with the brand. In this way, I step back and try to think about things from many angles. Because sometimes the things I like just don’t sell, she said, laughing.
━What kind of lifestyle do you usually keep?
I now work 3 days a week. On the four other days, I meet with friends and go to art galleries, museums and movies. On the two weekdays in particular, I carefully guard my time alone. Until my mid-thirties, I crammed in so many working hours that I essentially didn’t have a life, so what I do now is probably in reaction to that. I even have entire days on which I do nothing at all. On rainy days, I sit around and stare into space. But even that is refreshing, and leads to a good balance that then lets me go back to my work renewed.
As much as I like simple clothes, I make sure that they are of a shape that allows a woman to look beautiful when she wears them. For example, a normal knit crewneck should also lie cleanly around the neck. I do yoga 2 or 3 times a week. I also love to eat, but I almost never eat out, and instead cook at home. The books I read are not about fashion, but are mostly about cooking. I have loved clothing since forever, and I believe that fashion is just one part of daily life.
━How did you find Glenroyal?
I first heard of them when I toured the showroom at Watanabe & Co.,Ltd. Industries, a Glenroyal vendor. First I bought a wallet as a gift for my husband, but then I wanted something for me too. The first time I bought something was 7 or 8 years ago. At the time, I went on a lot of business trips, so had been looking for a well-designed and good shaped wallet to hold my passport and tickets.
━What do women find attractive about Glenroyal?
My wallet has enough capacity and is a good size, but it’s not too thick, so they’re comfortable for women to hold. It takes my tickets and passport, as well as a small notepad, pen and credit cards, which is great. Coins are easy to retrieve, and the wallet is exceptionally easy to use. Any marks on the leather don’t really stand out, and I enjoy it mellowing just by rubbing in nourishing cream every once in a while. There is the attraction of a solid manufacturing background, but there’s also the fact that the designers and craftsmen have thought carefully about how to make their items useful in everyday life, which is the reason that people continue to love them.
━Think about what you expect from an item.
I really value the feel of an item when I touch it, although this may be a bit of a masculine way of thinking about it. Products manufactured to meet certain expectations have a completely different quality to them when held in the hand. A lot of products sold are often “close to what you want”. While many are done fairly well, and I have tried a lot of them, I think that they’re acceptable if you are willing to compromise a little bit on what you want. But it’s sad that people don’t know the quality of the hand-made “real thing” that craftsmen have spent time on making. I don’t reject e-commerce sites out of hand, but there’s no way of telling the difference between faux leather and authentic leather on a computer screen. The only way to find better quality items is to actually visit stores more often and touch them. Manufacturers tend to try to sell brand-name items to women, but the quality of feel on the skin, and the fact that taking care of an item makes it your own, is an experience I would wish for everyone.
Ms. Chikako Asanuma,
Ms. Chikako Asanuma,
Born in 1967. Worked as a salesperson for SHIPS Kobe store, and then served as the Women’s Buyer. Chikako was later involved in ladies’ brand sampling at Mackintosh. She is currently in charge of buying on a freelance basis at liflattie ships, where she has been involved since the brand’s founding. She has over 20 years of experience as buyer.
photo TRYOUTtext K-suke Matsuda