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Tokidoki Capsule Store, New York City

Kids, anybody whoís seen us out and about knows LMD without some item of Tokidoki goodness is only half-dressed.  Back in 2006, when a chance glance into a LeSportsac store began an obsession, we have clocked Tokidokiís kawaii cute spin on pop art and Japanese otaku culture has been seen on t-shirts, bags and purses, jewelry, skateboard decks, ipod cases, and in amazing collaborations with Hello Kitty, Smashbox cosmetics, Mikasa, and Onitsuka Tiger sneakers.  Tokidokiís creator, Italian artist Simone Legno, has become a one-man industry by use of relentlessly cute, canny streetwise design, effortless style and an endless well of talent.

Only the second after the flagship branch in Milan, the opening of the New York Tokidoki Capsule Store in SoHo is a logical next step in Legnoís refreshingly unaggressive bid for world domination.  Indeed, opening up this tiny shop chock full of the bright happy colours, painfully adorable characters and Legnoís amazing sense of design seems completely contrary to the gray darkness of closing stores and other visible signs of the bad economy.  Walking into the tiny shop for half a minute and all that bad news is gone for a while Ė at least until you realise you canít take the whole store with you.  There is something for everyone at Tokidoki NYC and I hope Legnoís vision of a deliriously happy, colour-saturated, positive world will stick around, brightening up Spring Street for a long time.

The Tokidoki Capsule Store is located on 176 Spring St.



Exclusive Interview with Simone Legno


The Lady Miz Diva:  How is this New York store different than the original one in Milan?

Simone Legno:  Itís mostly the sizing; the one in Milan is bigger.  We had the opportunity to take this lease which was left by our friends in LeSportsac. They said, ďWeíre moving to a bigger space, you have to take it itís perfect to get a mini Tokidoki world.Ē We have some differences between in Europe and products here in America. In America, you can go a bit more funky, and colourful and exaggerated. Europeans are more conservative, especially Italians, they like more minimum things. They are more logo-driven. In the bigger space we play a bit more with the furnishings.


LMD:  But you have this tiny, little boutique in Soho, how perfect is that?

SL:  Exactly. I would prefer this place to a place four times bigger, but in another area. Itís perfect for our thing because you have this mixup of higher-end brands, or conservative or plus brands, then you have stores next door that are just like us.


LMD:  Can we talk about the beginnings of Tokidoki?

SL:  The name started before Tokidoki became a brand, it was my personal website. I was out of design school and I had to create a website to put my artwork and showcase it.  So, I liked very much the word tokidoki, liked the sound of that; I tried to give my own interpretation.  Like I would put this website online and maybe through this website, someone would see it in the right moment and this moment would change my life, just like throwing this bottle in this ocean of the web.  Itís not perfect English, probably but it means waiting for this moment that can change your life.  For me it was all about that; I wanted to get in touch with people from all over the world that are designers and it worked. About 8 or 9 years ago, there was so much to explore, through this website I started to have my clients and work on different projects and I was an underground young artist.  It happened the my business partners ( Pooneh and Ivan Arnold) saw they said, ďYou have a nice name, and a philosophy. Itís a brand without bring a brand.Ē So we started with some t-shirts and we kept growing.


LMD:  Your earlier website had darker, more adult work.  Do you ever think of incorporating that different style into what youíre doing now?

SL:  My first website was a bit more serious. I was just out of the teenage years and youíre still like, you know, like youíre missing something, and it was just coming out.  Now, at this moment, I have a happy life. Always, my work is a reflection of how I feel and even how I live and how I live. When I was living in Italy and was this kid, my influences were way more Japanese-inspired; everything was Japanese food, Japanese thisÖ I moved to LA {and} I have to notice the streetwear things and the bling and the diamonds and the gold and the cars.  Everything is more glamourous, you know.  Being apart form Italy, I started to miss my country, so I put in elements from that {Pointing at different characters around the store} you have this one with the Pizza, this one playing soccer, this guy with the patchwork is inspired by Harlequina, which is an Italian character.


LMD:  I wondered about your collaborations with Japanese companies and how youíre received there since so much of your work is inspired by Japanese art.

SL:  We have the collaborations with Onitsuka Tiger, Hello Kitty and Fujitsu, and then we have Burberry in other countries. Japan is a very, very delicate market.  So you have to play there with a major player and you have to figure out which one, because you canít go and just ship there without the real marketing.  Iíve seen brands there open up stores, like for example Paul Frank opened up a shop there and two years after, it shut down. Everything in Japan you have to do it slowly.  So we pierced the market with collaborations and first we found out what was huge there, all the major magazines, Vogue, ElleÖ So, we hope in a couple of years, itís gonna happen.  So, Iím waiting.  We are a young brand, we are only 4 years old and we have done so much.  In the beginning you want to be everywhere and we have grown very organically.


LMD:  As you say, the Japanese market is so careful about international brands, I wondered how your huge collaboration with Hello Kitty began?

SL:  They contacted us.  They wanted so badly to have a new way of doing character designs. We have so far three lines in Japan, and we asked only 200 stores, only like department stores for them.  Of course, wherever you go there is Hello Kitty everywhere, we wanted it be more exclusive to make it special. So what you see here is what we brought from Japan, itís exclusive for this store and to our customers.  Now Iím designing for next season, we will do a line thatís mostly clothing, t-shirts and hoodies. Just the day before yesterday, we were at Sanrio and I will be designing especially for America.


LMD:  The characters of Tokidoki can really go anywhere, on clothing, bags, stationery, jewelry, etc. and I wondered if you could see Tokidoki becoming an all-encompassing brand like Hello Kitty?

SL:  I think itís where we want to go but in a different way. I think we want to be a relaxed brand, alternative, artistic. {The challenge is to} stay cool.  Every new level is a new challenge. When they ask me to do certain products I say, ďWhy not?Ē  I think almost everything really can be somehow translated into Tokidoki, with the right attention to the details and quality.  Of course, you have to do everything step by step itís not that you go, ďOkay, letís start with t-shirts bags and thenÖĒ


LMD:  So whatís next for Simone Legno and Tokidoki?

SL:  Weíve got tons of stuff.  I am going to continue with Onitsuka Tiger for two seasons. We are doing more Hello Kitty. And we have very, very exciting products that are different from anything we have done that are coming, but you know, I canít talk to you about it, not yet.


LMD:  Thanks so much Simone and continued success.



~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 6th, 2009



Special thanks to Pooneh and Ivan Arnold and Alanna from EMGPR for their help and generosity with the interview.




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Exclusive Photos by LMD





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