Interview with Mikiharu Tsujita

Introduction :
was founded in Osaka in 1992 by visionary designer Mikiharu Tsujita and is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary with one of the strongest seasonal collections ever seen from the brand. With a mild obsession for American style & subculture and a knack for innovation, Tsujita quickly established himself as a pioneer of modern Japanese denim.

Before founding Fullcount, Tsujita collaborated with Hidehiko Yamane during the inception of Evisu. However, his true passion lay in creating classic and comfortable clothing, leading him to establish Fullcount as a distinct brand in its own right. His extensive research on vintage Levi's denim fueled his vision for Fullcount with significant breakthrough manifesting itself when Tsujita introduced the use of "long staple" Zimbabwean cotton, an organic and hand-picked material known for its natural strength and softness. This marked a turning point in the history of Japanese denim and solidified Fullcount's place on the world map. Today, Fullcount continues to be synonymous with exceptional craftsmanship, attention to detail, and timeless style. With their 30th-anniversary collection now available, Fullcount continues the legacy of Japanese denim and heritage clothing combining tradition and innovation to deliver pieces that effortlessly blend comfort and style.


Long time no see brother! Firstly, congratulations on the 30th Anniversary and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. We’ve known each other a long while now and with it being the start of summer in Japan I can imagine it’s hard for you to be sitting still in the office. My vision of you for summer is driving your new car to get an iced coffee and take a stroll around before heading to the billiards hall at night. How close am I? 

Thank you, Marty. It's been about eight years since we met, right? Yeah, recently I've been driving my new Bond car (Aston Martin), going to the gym, and, of course, taking billiards seriously.


Let’s start with the 30th Annivesary Collection. Can you talk on your inspiration behind some of the pieces? What influenced your design choices and the overall aesthetic of the collection?

Firstly, we decided to revive the pocket arctuates that were used since the brands inception in 1993 up until 2019 for the 0105 Anniversary model exclusively. We received numerous requests from long-time fans of Full Count so we made a limited run of that model in response to those demands.

The vintage-treated sweatshirts such as the Victory Sweatshirt draw inspiration from the style of Ivy League students in the 1950s to 1960s on the East Coast of the United States. They also serve as a reference for how Full Count sweatshirts age and develop character over time with regular wear.

Similarly, the wool sweaters and cardigans are inspired by the style of East Coast Ivy Leaguers. In particular, we used traditional knitting techniques to recreate the substantial weight and feel of those garments from the past.

The transformation of jeans from workwear to fashion items was greatly influenced by the way college students wore them during this era, and we are conscious of that fact.



As an aspiring designer with my own project Godspeed I understand the importance of collaboration… having leaned on yourself and Stephen Kenny for my own projects. How important is the concept of collaboration to you and what benefits are there? What are some of the stand-out collaborations for you over the past 30 years and recently?

Collaboration has become a significant factor for Fullcount in recent years. We are known as a brand that continues to create simple classic items based on traditional techniques so collaborating with artists and other brands not only brings joy to myself but is also necessary to add a unique flavor to our products and also helps us reach new fans.

We have had so many collaborations but I was really delighted when Paul Smith approached us for collaboration. 

Right, I think there is an assumption that Fullcount is heavily inspired by American culture but I would argue that you have a strong affinity with England, collaborating with Paul Smith, Stephen Kenney on the letterpress stuff and young Liam Alvy for his tattoo inspired designs. Obviously you're a big James Bond fan too.

Yes... Actually it's not a collaboration at all, but I was also honored to know that Daniel Craig is a fan of Fullcount. Recently we have received a handful of orders from him via our online store which was a pleasant surprise.


From a business perspective, I'm sure you've experienced up's and down's with regards to popularity, sales and overall successes? Can you talk on that?

We experienced significant success in Japan at a very early stage, but it wasn't to last. From around 2005 to 2015, we certainly faced our difficulties. Our early success was due to the overall boom of vintage style in mid 90's Japan and Fullcount rode the wave of that trend. 

I would say from about 2015 onwards we were truly understood for our concept and heritage. It was around that time that we also started to sell to international retail partners which expanded our reach globally. Reaching the 30-year mark at this point holds great significance for us as with all business there are up's and downs. 



I often describe Fullcount as ‘the brand you wear once you’ve tried everything else’… What I mean by that is I think especially outside of Japan we learn about Japanese denim from brands that invest heavier in marketing or have a bigger presence at tradeshows or online style forums for example. Once you’ve tried all of those brands you’ll inevitably end up wearing and appreciating Fullcount the most. I truly believe that and have experienced it both myself and with most customers at my store.

Can you comment on that? Obviously comfort and wearability plays a huge part in your design and making process?

When I started the brand, I was captivated by vintage denim, and I believe the charm of vintage lies in the flavor that comes with its aging process. It is a value that some people understand, but for those who are not interested, it may be an incomprehensible perspective.

I wanted to create something that had value, not just a value system. When I thought about what makes clothing valuable, I realized it was the comfort and fit. Since we wear clothing every day, comfort is incredibly important, and when our bodies crave certain garments, we naturally wear them more frequently.

With more frequent wear comes the true beauty of a garment... the aging over time improves the appearance and individuality of clothing.


The recent Covid-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges for all industries with the apparel manufacturing industry being hit hard. With the Japanese denim industry relying on specific looms & machines, rare fabrics and highly skilled artisans can you tell us about any obstacles you faced in terms of production and how you overcame them?

When we first started the brand, we didn't have the manufacturing industry required to truly realise our vision & craftsmanship.

At that time, I was dedicated to discussing our future vision and contributing to the development of the Okayama region in order to secure the traditional weaving machines and skilled artisans required to grow our brand, the culture and the local manufacturing industry.

Now, facing difficulties due to the pandemic, we have returned to our original aspirations and went back to basic's, meeting with our long term partners in textile production and manufacturing. We discussed a vision of the future that we can achieve together with the help of young & passionate people in the Okayama region.


Looking ahead, what aspirations do you have for Fullcount in the future? Are there any particular goals or directions you envision for the brand? How do you plan to build upon the success of the past 30 years?

I want to continue doing what I have always done! I want to keep engaging in different elements of design and help to further increase the awareness of Japanese craftsmanship to the world.



Lastly, could you please share your personal goals and aspirations? What are you most looking forward to?

I've been looking to relocate to Awaji Shima, a small island off the coast of Kobe that is rich in nature and I'm mostly looking forward to living there. It will be completed next spring so Marty, please make time to visit!



Featured from Fullcount :

Shop highlighted pieces from Fullcount's 30th Anniversary collection below featuring heavy wool knit's, limited denim, vintage sweatshirts, military trousers & vintage t-shirts.

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