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Upon walking through the threshold of SABIT NYC’s showroom on West 38th Street, I sensed an extreme aura of comfortability – a word not generally associated with the hectic, fast-paced, stressful world of fashion. As Shoichi Amemiya, head designer of SABIT NYC, stood to shake my hand I noticed his muted smile and quiet demeanor, which remained as I silently watched him work on his Apple laptop and check his Blackberry. He seemed unaffected as George Boria snapped shot after shot and appeared more than accommodating when George ask him to pose in front of a rack of his jeans. As he stood stoic in front of his creations, it became apparent that he is the anchor in this sea of tranquility.
Life has many pleasures and many paths in which to seek it. Some people would not include their 9-5 on their list of delights, not so with Shoichi Amemiya and his team. The pleasure that Mr. Amemiya takes in what he does is evident in the philosophy of his brand as well as the clothing he produces. Since the establishment its in 2005, SABIT NYC has swept the fashion world like a tsunami, taking no prisoners in its rise to becoming one of the most influential and sought after urban brands on the market. SABIT NYC’s unique, eye catching designs has brought a bevy of A-listers to his door including Lil Wayne, T Pain, Mario, T.I., Juelz Santana and Swizz Beatz (the face of SABIT).
Tell me about your background?
I am a Japanese native. I came to New York City 20 years ago.
Where did you attend school?
I attended a fashion school in Japan named Osaka Mode.
How did you begin designing clothes?
At age 17 I begin focusing on a fashion career. Shortly afterwards I went to school where I majored in Fashion Design.
What made you want to design urban fashion in particular?
My focus isn’t “urban” fashion; SABIT is an uncategorized brand. I design clothing that reflects the “lifestyle” of fashion. I have a great appreciation for hip hop and its culture. I fuse all elements of what’s hot and make it dope!
Tell me more about your philosophy and how you apply it to your brand and your designs?
My philosophy is Tanoshinde, a word in Japanese culture that means enjoy. I want my people to enjoy their life wearing SABIT. Every garment has “Tanoshinde” printed somewhere on it.
How does the fashion and club scene in Tokyo influence your designs?
The club scene in Tokyo doesn’t directly influence my design concepts; I never really paid much attention to it actually. However there is a fashion culture know in Japan as “AMACAJI”, which is the fusion of American casual and has become a major movement and the foundation by which most fashionable people in Japan dress.
Why do you believe your designs have taken off like wild fire in the streets?
I believe the world is looking for the newest, hottest style. Everyone is tired of the same brands and design concepts. SABIT NYC is [the] answer, fashionable and unique.
Your clientele consists of some of the hottest MCs and R&B singers in the music industry. How does hip hop and R&B influence you?
I believe hip hop has its influence but it doesn’t directly influence myself or my brand. I love music, so I can say that all genres play a major part in my design concepts.
Could you tell me how Swizz Beatz came to be the face of SABIT NYC?
Well, we met through a mutual friend and history was made from there. He respects my work and I respect his. That’s the secret to our relationship, “respect.”
Urban fashion, like hip hop, changes very frequently. Urban clothing brands hit a peak and then fade in popularity. How will SABIT NYC avoid becoming a hip hop fad?
Honestly we are not trying to “peak” in the urban market. We will remain relevant to the time, I understand that fashion is a language and continues to evolve, and as a designer I enjoy the challenges of having to stay fresh and always in fashion.
Gianni Versace used the Medusa. There are a few symbols that are used frequently in your clothing. Could you tell me more about the effect these symbols have had on you and why you choose to use them?
Our symbol is a bird in Japan called a “swallow.” In Asian culture this bird is considered lucky. So we consider our space its nest, a place where only luck can reside.
What can we expect to see from SABIT NYC this September?
Wow, Fashion Week is going to be great. Expect to see a very exciting collection with a few Native American elements such as beaded logo fabrications and leather trims fused into a collection filled with classic styles and fashion forward design concepts.
Will you add a female line and other accessories soon?
Yes, we are currently working on that now. However when the time is right, and only when it’s right will we move forward with that collection. Fashion is all about timing and making sure we are producing the highest levels of quality and style.
What is next for Shoichi Amemiya?
My hope is to spread the word “Tanoshide” to the world, giving them a part of my culture to hold on to. They may never go to Japan, but understanding my culture and where I’ve come from is most important to me.
Photos: George Boria, G Studios NYC
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Photos courtesy of Andrew Thomas