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18th July 2023 EDT FEATURES

The Mind Behind #FR2: Ryo Ishikawa

By looking to the past and the present, Ryo Ishikawa found inspiration for his various creative projects and built a brand for himself.


Translated by Dickson Chin

Founding popular label #FR2 (Fxxking Rabbits) and also managing multiple brands including DENIM BY VANQUISH & FRAGMENT, Ryo Ishikawa is a household name in the streetwear scene and his love for sneakers has been well documented on street culture sites. The streetwear juggernaut currently owns 500 pairs of sneakers (and counting) in his collection.

In the latest installment of SNKRDUNK Interviews, we sat down with Ishikawa to find out which are his current faves and asked about his thoughts on the current state of the sneaker scene, alongside his ambitions for his latest apparel brand.

LineQ: First of all, can we ask about the sneakers you brought today?

This is the #FR2 x Reebok Club C, a Japan-exclusive model sold under #FR2 and atmos, and only 600 pairs will be available. Releasing on my birthday on 12th June, this interview would also mark the first time we are revealing this collab to the world.

Ryo Ishikawa Interview
My favorite detail on this sneaker would be the ‘Rabbit2’ that has replaced the ‘Reebok’ logo on the sides, because that is not something that can be approved easily. And personally, I think it is something remarkable as it is considered a global project for us.

Ryo Ishikawa InterviewNext, we have the HOKA ONE ONE TOR ULTRA HI 2 WP, besides the fact that I wear these on a regular basis, it is also a pair that I always bring with me when I travel overseas. I would say HOKA is the best sneaker brand in terms of comfort; besides this pair, I also own a few low-cut models.

Ryo Ishikawa InterviewAs a fan of the Nike Air Jordan 1 series, I do own a number of pairs. But rather than the latest models, I tend to buy the classics more, like the pair that I’m wearing today. I prefer simpler designs and I got into the AJ1s as they were considered a generation thing in my youth. The first AJ1 model released when I was 19 and the sneaker shops in my hometown Fukuoka were selling a pair for 7,000 yen (~US$50). Thinking back, I regretted not buying and collecting every model that was available.

Ryo Ishikawa InterviewThe last two pairs are both New Balance M1300s—one regular model and the other a collaboration with KITH. I have a hobby of buying the original and updated models as a set, which goes the same for cars.

Q: I heard that you work in an apparel shop in the past, did you have an interest in fashion since young?

I was only interested in fashion back then. We didn’t have access to the internet so there weren’t many things that sparked my interest. We often accompanied my father to clothing shops and I ended up working in one of them. It was during the ‘92~93 era where the casual American style was trending.

Q: Do you usually plan your outfit around the sneakers you’d be wearing that day?

I used to choose an outfit first and then match it with my sneakers, but it’s become the opposite now. That is also why I started the brand “THE NETWORK BUSINESS”, which I am wearing today.

With “Social Sneakers Secret Service for sneakerheads worldwide” as the concept, we have a range of matching sweatsuits that go well with sneakers. And that’s how I think people should plan their outfit—matching your outfits to your sneakers.

Q: Are you the type who will re-purchase something you like?

Yes, I will usually end up wearing what I bought if I don’t store them away. When they are worn-out, I will either purchase a new one or get it repaired. For New Balance, their soles are replaceable so I am able to continue wearing the models that I like.

Ryo Ishikawa Interview

Q: What are your thoughts on current sneaker trends?

I think it’s great. With the expansion of the resale market, there is a variety of sneakers made available to the public. After starting our mobile sales store with #FRDOKO?, I realized that the spending power of the younger generation has risen, not because their salaries have increased but rather how they buy and sell via the resale market.

In the past, we were only able to make purchases, unlike now where we can buy and sell anything. Assuming a pair of sneaker costs around $100, we can treat it like an investment (because there is a resale option in future), making it a good market for even non-sneakerheads to enter and that’s what I think makes it exciting.

Q: You have experimented with various branding and sales method for a while. How did it all started?

It started from a dilemma that I had with the industry some time back. When someone says “the next trend would be this”, my first thought would be “who decides on that?”. Back in the day, people get inspirations mainly from magazines. But with the internet, I realized that things were not what we thought they were and I decided to create what I thought was lacking in the market.

Ryo Ishikawa Interview

Q: I understand why you will operate a mobile sales store as a company, but why did you get involved with the sales on site physically?

The sales of our mobile stores were about five times more than a regular shop, and it will be better for me to head down and see if there were any changes needed to be made. Rather than the long approvals needed, I would just make the decisions while I’m there which saves a lot of time and that really improves the flow of the system.

Q: Aren’t you tired from always working on everything?

But then again, is there anything fun besides work? We have so many holidays in Japan and I really wonder what everyone does in their free time. I guess I don’t need any offs.

Q: Can you tell us about the most fun part of your job?

It’s looking at the customers’ reaction. When I get to see their response to what we are doing, it’s really an exciting moment for me, like moments where they say “I really won the raffle!”.

Q: Can you tell me about your ambitions?

Even if it’s just one person, I hope to be able to trigger the thought that “asia just came out with something cool”. That’s not something that many have aimed for. Many in Japan’s fashion industry think that becoming the top of Asia is a useless goal, but I think that perspective itself is dumb.

Becoming the top in Asia also means we can become the top of the world. Like how Indonesia’s population is fourth in the world, I want to take up such a challenge.

Ryo Ishikawa Interview

Q: Do you fear doing something that no one has done before?

Not at all. I started out with nothing and even if I lose everything, it just means I’m back to square one. Being an ordinary person, I know that doing the same thing as everyone else will not guarantee success. I do not see a point if everyone is the same and I think it is important to prove your worth through one’s own methods.

Q: What do you think the future would be for the sneaker scene in Japan, or even the world?

As long as supply doesn’t decrease, I think we can still expect many more. To maintain the hype, the supply must be able to keep up to it. With smartphones being the connecting factor across the globe, sneakers have also become a form of universal language and there would be a demand for them. If you announce that something is ‘releasing tomorrow’, people from all around the globe will be buying it. That’s why I think that there is no difference in the sneaker market whether in Japan or globally.

Photography: Tsukuru Asada
Interview & text: Kei Osawa

Note: This interview was translated from Japanese and has been edited and condensed.


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