A Bodega Exclusive: Interview with Fuji of MANASTASH


                                            "Functional, stylish and earth-friendly clothing based
on the free wheeling lifestyle"




Formerly based in Washington state, Manastash, named after a trail located in the Cascade Mountains, aims to create products that appeal to the stylish but outdoorsy type. Although the brand is now under Japanese ownership, Manastash's motto hasn't changed: "To create functional, stylish and earth-friendly clothing based on the free wheeling lifestyle."

The Manastash brand goes hard, incorporating sustainable materials into their products such as hemp and recycled fleeces. Coupling sustainability with incredible design, the brand uses unique block patterning, bright-contrasting color schemes and super soft fleece to create unique and long lasting products with minimal impact on the environment.

The Manastash Fall/Winter 2013 offering is something we are proud to carry. The pieces range from waterproof PAI TEX panel jackets to fleece parka zip ups and animal print vests. We had the luxury of talking with the Manastash brand manager, Takehiro Fujitsuka AKA Fuji, about the brand and their newest collection. Continue on for the dialogue and photographs of Manastash's latest collection.

-Can you give a little background info on the company?

Manastash was originally founded in Seattle, WA in 1993.  The brand was named after a trail in Washington State in the Cascade Mountains extending from B.C. Canada through Northern California.  Back then, the fabrics made with Hemp were still in developing stage, and therefore the brand was having a hard time to produce the goods in the same quality all the time which made their existence under threat. We were one of their retailers at that time and learned how beneficial hemp is to the environment – it is more vigorous than cotton and grows fast without using fertilizer or agrochemical, thus eco-friendly. Manastash was one of the first brands to utilize Hemp as a material for the garments.  We thought we should succeed it in Tokyo to revitalize under the same concept – make the eco-friendly and fun clothing.

 -Can you describe a little about the 13’ Fall/Winter collection and what the primary focus was?

The theme of ’13 Fall/Winter collection is snow festival.  

Our primary focus is to use the eco-friendly material such as hemp, Pertex ® Eco, and PET recycle fleece as much as we can.   It is also important for Manastash that the person who wears our products looks cool and outstanding (in a good way!) both during outdoor activities and on the urban night out.

 -The ‘13 Fall/Winter look book is very impressive; especially the small outdoor scenes accompanying it, can you talk about where the idea for this came from and how they relate to the brand?

Our budget to make a catalog is very limited – cannot afford to hire the models or do the location shooting.  So we decided to portrait the Snow Festival using the diorama.  By the way, toilet paper is one of the first things that come into people’s mind as the goods made with recycled material (at least here in Japan). 

 -We’ve noticed block patterning and bright contrasting color schemes characterize a lot of the product, what inspires this type of design?

We are inspired by covers of the vinyl from 50’s to 80’s in general. 

 -The brand is very environmentally conscious, can you tell me why your brand believes it is so important to be eco-friendly and how to you incorporate this idea into your products?

We totally understand and agree that high-tech garments are a-must to survive the extreme situation like climbing the Everest, explore the arctic area etc. 

But unfortunately, those high-tech materials are made in the way that would wreak more pollution – it may be considered as the necessary evil, again, to survive the extreme climates. 

But we have been feeling that there are way too many people wearing that type of garments while they are in the circumstances far apart from the extreme.   This looks like we are destroying the environment for nothing.   It sounds silly that the jacket you are wearing for hiking may become the reason why your grandchildren can never visit that same hiking course.  

Our garments are made by and made for people who love the casual outdoor life – hiking, trekking, biking, day-trip, camping, music festivals etc.   To enjoy such lifestyle for generations, it is very important for Manastash to try and use the eco-friendly materials as much as we can.

-What process do you go through to obtain fleeces, hemp and other sustainable materials? 

The materials are developed together with the manufacturers.  

All the colors, patterns on the fleece, and often the fabric itself are made exclusively for Manastash.  Sometimes it takes long to make fabric we are satisfied with.  For example, we spent almost a couple of years to develop the hemp/cotton flannel we are using for “Hemp Nel CPO” and “Hemp Nel Anorak” in the smooth and soft hand we have been looking for.

-How long does it usually take to create a piece? (more specifically a jacket or vest)

It really depends on the style.  The color block is like working on a puzzle – sometimes it can be solved instantly, sometimes not. 

 -How does your brand differentiate itself from other eco-friendly clothing companies?

We would not like to (or cannot) define ourselves as hardcore eco-conscious brand.   We think we are an eco-friendly outdoor-oriented “fashion” brand.   Honestly, it is still not so easy for us to make whole garments with eco-friendly materials without sacrificing the function we seek for.


















Words & Images: Tommy Boudreau

To see the full Fall/Winter '13 line from Manastash, click here.