Inspiration: Style

Shinya: big in Japan… and Paris

The designer saying ‘konnichiwa’ to savoir faire

‘Buy fewer things.’

It’s an unusual sales mantra for one of the rising stars of motorcycle gear, bringing a Japanese twist to tradition, but then Shinya is anything but the norm in a world of mass-produced products.

“I’ve got a golden rule that applies to everything that leaves my studio and that is that it has to be something I’d want for myself,” admits the Paris-based patterner and designer.

“It is up to the consumer to look for quality and buy fewer but better things.”

All the items are handmade by Shinya, whose Sankakel business has gone from strength to strength since he made the switch from Tokyo to immerse himself in the French fashion industry.

Shinya Hirota, Motorcycle gear, style, leather goods

“I design, make the pattern and sew all the items. I don’t use a factory because I want to control the entire process and make a perfect product with no defects,” he says.

“When I craft something, I first think about the user. I want my products to be practical, beautiful and high quality. Because I make everything myself, I can produce only very small quantities of each item.”

When he’s not in the studio, he spends most of his time on two wheels, whether its tearing up the Alps with his riding buddies or a leisurely, lone weekend ride around the picturesque French countryside, Shinya finds riding a great release from work.

Tearing up the French Alps, picture courtesy of Gotz Goppert

“For me, art, design and my life on motorcycles are all inexorably linked, so I usually start a new project when I need something new for myself.”

Shinya has been fascinated by fashion since his teens and studied fashion at the renowned Bunka Fashion School in the Japanese capital.

He says: “I worked several years for Japanese brands before coming to France. I’ve been interested in motorcycling since high school because in Japan you can have a 400cc driver’s licence at 16. All the kids had motorcycles and it was a lot of fun. Still is.

“Savoir faire and craftsmanship are the soul of a country and if your country loses it, it loses its identity.

“Everyone says Japan is a blend of modernity and tradition, and although it’s rather a cliché, it’s true that there’s a lot of craft and tradition in Japan – things like fans, lacquer, paper, knives, silk – so I think it’s very important to preserve that.”

Shinya currently rides a Suzuki DR350 but is set to make the change to a Bonnie because of new regulations barring older bikes from central Paris.

French Alps, Motorcycle Trip, Rideback
Switchbacks through the French Alps, picture courtesy of Gotz Goppert

“I ride every weekend. It’s a great release from work, where the attention to detail is everything,” he says. “That technical part of the clothing, all the little things that you don’t always see but that give the clothing an important look, is what sets you apart.”

Visit Sinya’s site here.