By pioneering a discreet revolution in retail, Hiroaki Takashita has redefined the Japanese luxury market.
Discover the renegade horizons of pioneering retailer Hiroaki Takashita is keeping his focus closer to home.
Since the founding of his first Restir boutique in Kobe in 2000, Hiroaki Takashita has been literally stirring up and changing the retail climate in Japan. With his finger on the pulse, his second Restir store, which opened in Tokyo's Ginza district in 2001, was entirely rethought in 2005, when Takashita decided to address a gap in a saturated luxury market—a gap that yearned to be filled with the ultimate in edgy ideas and the best knowledgeable service imaginable. Taking on the Japanese tradition of luxury as a byword for trust and loyalty, he created a store that provides incomparable personal concierge services, embraces technology, and is always stimulating; in short, a store where luxury is the cutting-edge.
Forward-thinking to a fault, Takashita's relentless march towards luxurious perfection is continuing in the retail arena this summer, but if his irrepressible energy holds he may very well leave his indelible mark on the hospitality sector, too.
What is your definition of luxury?
If luxury were an object what would it be?
A plane, because it gives you the luxury to go anywhere, anytime
If luxury were a person who would it be?
Ian Schrager, because he creates a world of luxury for all to enjoy
If luxury were a place where would it be?
A dinner party at home, surrounded by my closest friends, eating and drinking the finest food and wine
If luxury were a moment when would it be?
The moment I sink into my first-class seat after a whirlwind business trip, with the knowledge I'm heading home
You started in retail at a very young age, was it your vision to one day create the most luxurious department store in Japan?
It wasn't a specific vision at the time, but I knew I wanted to do something no one else had done, to push the boundaries of retail. I have always looked for that special something that no one else has thought of, that something that no one else has attempted. The idea for Restir came naturally to me after 20 years in the business. I noticed that nobody else was providing a cutting-edge, high-luxury fashion and lifestyle option for those for whom money is no object and style is non-negotiable. It has always been my vision to create an environment where people are entertained, surprised and stimulated.
Please explain the inspiration behind Restir's unique concept and design?
The name Restir is derived from Re-stir: to stir up, revolutionize, make a noise, create something new. A high-luxury concept boutique, Restir offers the best pieces from some of the most coveted designer collections, while at the same time showcasing some of the edgiest and up-and-coming young designers from around the world. Restir is a natural addition to discerning international fashionistas' list of 'must-see' boutiques around the world, a boutique in which clients can wile away the hours in a secluded, private yet edgy environment full of luxurious temptations.
What kind of clientele does Restir appeal to most?
Restir is aimed at the discerning fashion-conscious person who wants more than just luxury.
Not just materially wealthy people, but people who want something different, who appreciate the finer things in life and who enjoy life to the fullest.
Restir is particularly attentive to innovating exclusive customer services. Can you tell us more about your specific service philosophy?
Keeping in mind today's hectic lifestyle, Restir aims to be more than just a boutique. Highly trained staff providing above-and-beyond the line of duty services as a premiere lifestyle consultant, fashion partner and exclusive individual concierge to each and every one of its valued customers, providing a perfect hand-picked selection for the sophisticated international shopper.
The world considers Japan to be the most luxury-advanced country. What is your analysis of the Japanese luxury market as compared to the rest of the world?
Japan has a long history of luxury—though not luxury in the Western sense. Rather than opulence and grandeur, the concept of Japanese luxury is subtler. It is based on trust and loyalty—to craftsmen, to the seasons, to beauty and to nature. It is based on the concept of Zen and the appreciation of the finest things in life. This stems from customs in ancient Kyoto, where there was a close bond between clients and craftsmen that went beyond monetary gain. It was a relationship of trust, where the exchange of beautiful objects and services was for appreciation alone. This can still be seen in modern Japan where there is still the same loyalty and trust in beautiful things, whether it is for an exquisite tea ceremony or a handcrafted bag from a European luxury maison.
When developing new projects at Restir, how do you anticipate future consumer needs?
We always consider if our customers will like what we do, if they will be stimulated, excited or if they will enjoy themselves. We are inundated with information these days and at Restir we like to pare it down to the essentials, to only what the customer wants and needs. That is why we are constantly improving the concierge arm of our service, to ensure our customers are satisfied, yet always stimulated and inspired.
As one of the leaders in the luxury market, you have a privileged understanding of the industry. Therefore, what major industry trends can we expect to see in both Japan and throughout the rest of the world?
Luxury goods have become attainable to the average person. Most people these days own a handbag, shoes, and an item of clothing from a luxury fashion maison. What the luxury business has to now offer is some kind of spiritual enrichment, something that adds to peoples' lives and offers excitement and wonder and awe.
Why do you think luxury is so important in contemporary culture?
Luxury sets one apart. Luxury makes one feel special. Luxury breeds craftsmanship and beauty. We need luxury in contemporary culture as an antidote to information overload, mass materialism and as an escape from the mundane.
You developed exclusive shopping services on both mobile devices and the Internet. How, in your opinion, will new technologies continue to impact the luxury industry for brands, retail outlets and consumers?
New technologies will have a huge impact on the future of luxury and the retail business. Both the Internet and mobile technology have opened up a whole new world for consumers, while providing an invaluable relation-building tool for retailers and brands alike. Technology provides a platform where consumers can access a wealth of information 24 hours a day in order to make an informed decision on their purchases. For retailers, this is a huge advantage, as it provides an opportunity to create and maintain clientele both locally and afar, and to build a special bond that is not always possible through just a physical boutique.
What are your plans for Restir's future?
We have big plans for Restir. There is an untapped market out there, one that has incredible potential. Next year we are opening a new boutique in one of the newest and most talked-about developments in Tokyo, the Tokyo Midtown project. The new boutique will fuse luxury, fashion, lifestyle and technology and is our most exciting project to date. It will of course provide the highest level of service to all customers, but will chiefly revolve around VIP customers, providing an all-encompassing concierge service to cater to their every need.
Further in the future, I would like to extend the luxury lifestyle concept even further in the development of a luxury resort.