Brand Introductory Series: Interview with Modern Pirates in Harajuku


by Kate Havas, posted July 13, 2011

ROKKYUU is all about music and fashion, both the big brands you already know, and the smaller shops only your favorite bandman knows. In our brand introductory series, we’ll show you some of the hottest shops in Japan and let you know where you can get all the latest in visual fashion.

First stop: Modern Pirates, Harajuku.

GLAY, Nightmare, Luna Sea,…the list of artists that Modern Pirates has worked with and created accessories for reads like a “who’s who” of visual kei, and the ties are evident in the scrawled signatures and band regalia littered throughout the store. We recently sat down with manager Lyu of the Harajuku store for a quick chat about the history of the brand, and got his recommendations for the hottest items of the moment.

69: Thanks for meeting with us today! Can you introduce yourself?

Lyu: I’m Lyu, manager of Modern Pirates in Harajuku. Nice to meet you!

69: Tell us a little about the history of the brand.

Lyu: It started in Aichi ken, Nagoya. Our designer Nal began working about fifteen years ago. Originally it was a kote kote punk rock style brand. We really felt there was a link between fashion and music and made connections with many visual kei bands. Now we have a ton of artists we get along with and make goods for.

69: I can see that! This mirror (covered floor to ceiling in artist signatures) is pretty impressive, how did you get so many signatures?

Lyu: It all started with Glay. For Glay’s 10th anniversary live at USJ, Universal Studios Japan, we were put in charge of designing their accessories, which put us in contact with a lot of other bands, and it kind of went from there. SID, Nightmare, Alice Nine, we started making a lot of friends: Yumehito and Kenzo (AYABIE) stopped by just yesterday. We also make a lot of items that they use on stage. We’ll consult with the stylists and suggest that maybe this or that would be good to use, or discuss how we could design an accessory or guitar straps.

Cross necklaces of the type owned by members of SID and GLAY.

Guitar strap used by SUGIZO.

Custom Modern Pirates guitar

69: What’s unique about the brand?

Lyu: The thing that other brands don’t have is our Modern Pirates original stud goods, and since they’re all hand-made anyone can have a custom item. I’m confident in saying that we can make anything [laughs].

69: So, what would you recommend as the Modern Pirates “Best Three”?

Lyu: As I mentioned, the Modern Pirates original pyramid stud belt, and similar wrist band. We even have collars. I can definitely recommend any of our pyramid studs.

Next, I would recommend these [ball stud] stud items–the studs we use here are also original, the best quality in the world. Each stud is only 1.5 millimeters, incredibly tiny, and has to be placed one by one so they take a lot of time. Even one wristband takes several weeks.

Recently we started offering stone items. We originally had a store in Ebisu, but when we moved to Harajuku our customer base changed somewhat and we had to think about our new customers’ needs. We thought, “What can we do?”-and designed the stone items. The stone beads with Swarovski crystals are very popular with the ladies.

69: Can you give a message to our readers?

Lyu: Our items are only here in Japan, made by Japanese, so if you happen to be in Nagoya or Tokyo, please stop by. Since all the items are hand-made, we can customize size, color, whatever you want. (Make sure you mention that!) [laughs]

Unfortunately, right now the only way to get your hands on these items is to stop by the store in either Nagoya or Tokyo, but they’re hoping to offer an English website and international shipping in the future. If you say you learned about the brand through ROKKYUU, you can have a Modern Pirates original button as a present, so if you’re in Tokyo, be sure to drop in! The Harajuku store is located behind Astro Hall on Meiji street.

For more goods and a map to the store, check out the MODERN PIRATES website.

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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!

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