Brand Introductory Series: Interview with MATERIAL CROWN in Harajuku [日本語あり]


by Kate Havas, Maya Kawaguchi, posted August 31, 2011

Read in 日本語 / English

Since the disbandment of Hime Ichigo, drummer Ruka has been busy with his own accessories line, MATERIAL CROWN, as well as occasional modeling and music work. ROKKYUU recently interviewed this prolific designer about the brand and what he’s planning next.

69: Thank you for the interview! Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us one thing to describe yourself.
Ruka: I’m Ruka, creator and designer of the silver accessories brand, MATERIAL CROWN. I want to remain an adult who keeps his child-like heart!

69: What is the concept behind “MATERIAL CROWN”?
Ruka: “Material” is raw materials, character, important things. “Crown” is the symbol of the person at the top. The raw materials that make up “oneself” are qualities that can only be held by oneself. They make up a unique personality. I hope that people will have pride in those treasures and grab onto huge dreams and ideals. That’s the hope I work into it (the brand.)

69: Previously you focused on music. What made you move into design? Was it something you were always interested in?
Ruka: The origin of both music and accessory design is in the creation and sense that goes into making something well thought out. There’s no difference. When I thought “Isn’t there a way to make music and lives more interesting?” I saw the brand I have now, a fusion of music and accessories. I like making things that surprise people, so I don’t have a fixed idea about this and that, I just keep focusing on what I like.

69: Do you see yourself more as a musician, a designer?
Ruka: Officially I guess I’m a designer, but I think of myself as an artist. I believe that anyone who plays an instrument, draws, or whose dream is coming true is an artist.

69: You’ve done collaborations with bands such as DaizyStripper and Kiryuu in the past. What (or who) prompted the collaborations?
Ruka: Suddenly, everyone got fussy about having custom made costumes, but there was always a question of who would take care of the accessories. So I thought, if it must be done then it should be unique silver accessories embodying the image of each artist and I presented that idea to everyone.

69: When working with other artists, is it hard to come to an agreement about the finished work? Do you have to compromise a lot?
Ruka: First, I design a rough draft; something based on the artist’s image motif and to make it even more unique, I take lots of suggestions and details and draw the intricate design. When I combine that with the artist’s requests and the order, we can produce something bursting with originality.

69: Recently you made a charity collaboration with Blue Planet Japan. How did you become involved?
Ruka: For one, I had already collaborated with DaizyStripper, so I was honored to be asked “for sure” (to design an accessory) by Blue Planet Japan. So I designed an item.

69: We hear you have a collaboration brewing with Sugizo of LUNA SEA and X JAPAN. Can you tell us anything about this yet, or is it all under wraps?
Ruka: An older brand displayed in the same store called Artemis Classic is developing a collaboration. Furthermore, you can see SUGIZO’s charity pendants (designed by a different brand) displayed at MATERIAL CROWN. Please come have a look!

69: What inspires you?
Ruka: The moment people’s feelings are jolted. My interests lie in things which go beyond imagining, beyond expectations.

69: Even now, you still perform sometimes, right? Tell us about your recent musical activities.
Ruka: I play drums in the MATERIAL CROWN BAND formed here at MATERIAL CROWN. I want to do things that combine my entertainer’s side and my serious side.

69: We saw you model in the Sixh. fashion show. How was that experience?
Ruka: It was a valuable experience. I think I want to participate more actively in modeling from now own.

69: How does the runway compare to a live, or to modeling for the cameras?
Ruka: Of course it’s different, but not so much so that I felt uncomfortable. I’m excited to be in front of the crowd whether it’s in a live or on the runway.

69: You’ve done music, design, and modeling. That’s quite a wide range of experience! Is there anything left you want to do?
Ruka: I think I’d really like to expand my connections and get experience with variety shows and other performers.


69: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment so far?
Ruka: The friends that stay by my side.

69: Have you ever been abroad? What is your impression of overseas?
Ruka: I have. It was really inspiring to experience an active atmosphere and culture you can’t find in Japan.

69: Back to the brand… MATERIAL CROWN. What item of MATERIAL CROWN would you recommend to our readers?
Ruka: As a designer, I recommend Mystique Nirvana. It shines in seven colors of unique crystals and I love the combined detail of all our motifs: the crown, key, and logo!

69: Who are your target consumers?Ruka: People who are interested in visual music, people who like silver accessories, people who like fashion, even people from other genres are noticing us… so I want to branch out and expand.

69: ROKKYUU’s readers are mainly foreigners and while many live in Japan, many more travel here regularly. However, we’d like to know if you offer international shipping for customers?
Ruka: In the future, we want to start international shipping, but right now we’re still looking into it. When you come to Japan please stop by MATERIAL CROWN!

69: Please give a message to our readers!
Ruka: Hi readers, nice to meet you! I’m Ruka. I’m going to take on the international market, so please give your support!! ROCK!!!

If you come to Tokyo, MATERIAL CROWN is located on Meiji-dori in Harajuku, a stone’s throw from Takeshita-dori and the department store LaForet. The store front says Artemis Classic, but a sign will direct you to MATERIAL CROWN on the second floor, where you’ll find an elegant display of jewelry as well as band memorabilia such as the drum kit from the MATERIAL CROWN BAND and sign boards from the collaboration artists. They even have a stocked bar for the occasional in-store party. Make sure you take a look!

The website, with product details and map, is here:

VK Exclusive

There are 13 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Kate Havas first became interested in Japanese fashion and culture in college when manga, anime, and visual kei were just beginning to make their way to America. An art and English major with a love of clothes, Kate signed onto ROKKYUU in order cover fashion and report on Tokyo trends, but was quickly also recruited to the music side of things and has been having an adventure expanding her knowledge of all things VK since. Follow her on twitter at keito_kate!

Maya Kawaguchi is a Japanese native who grew up in California. She was introduced to VK in college and soon became fascinated by the genre and nagoya-oriented bands in particular. Since then, she has been surprised by the number of foreigners who are interested in VK and hopes to introduce this world to as many potential fans as possible.

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