Screen Shot: Katana Sakana
City Based: Toronto, Canada
What inspired the brand name?
Our very first design was the Swordfish Rose - since Cowboy Bebop is one of our favourite shows. One day we were joking that if you only knew Japanese from watching anime, you might think "katana sakana" means swordfish since "katana" means sword and "sakana" means fish ( the actual word for swordfish is "kajiki"). We thought "katana sakana" was catchy and alliterative - and made sense given our first design - so the name stuck! By the way, Katana Sakana is a two man show. I'm Tomas Flecker, and my Co-Founder is Sebastian Ko. We run everything between the two of us, and do all the designs ourselves.
At what moment did you realize you wanted to start a brand?
When we first started we were just making stuff for ourselves to wear. The kinds of anime t shirts we always wanted, but could never find. Eventually people started asking where to buy our stuff, so we decided to make a site and see what would happen.
What helps you get over creative blocks?
Our best ideas come when Sebastian and I are just hanging out and joking about the latest anime we've watched. We take a long time to do our designs because we have a rule that at least one of us has to watch the show (and usually enjoy it) before we start tossing around design ideas.
What is the biggest mistake you have made?
Definitely some of our earlier designs (I'm thinking of the Gon Fishing) - we went way to subtle on reference to Hunter x Hunter on that one, and very few people seem to recognize it. Also, too many white t shirts. People tend to go for darker colours.
What is the biggest success you have had?
We had a booth at Anime NYC this year and sold out of everything we brought. It was awesome - we made a bunch of friends, and got a bunch of new ideas to expand our anime-inspired streetwear collections.
A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION PEOPLE MAY FIND WEIRD?
I think for a lot of people, they might find anime in general to be a kind of weird place to find inspiration. If I had to pick one particular thing though, I would say looking at different fonts - there's a lot of cool stuff out there, and sometimes it's typography that sparks a design idea for me.
Favorite color to use?
Tomas: black. Sebastian: soft cream.
ARE THERE ANY RETAIL SHOPS YOU WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU BRAND IN?
This is a hard question. I think one day we'd love to have our own shop. Something like a manga cafe where you can chill, have a coffee, read a bit - and maybe buy a t shirt or two.
ANOTHER BRAND THAT INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
Uniqlo - they do all their production in-house, and make some decent quality clothing for solid prices.
Where do you see yourself and the brand in 1 year and 5 years?
In 1 year, we hope to be featuring our stuff at more at conventions, and maybe the odd local shop. In 5 years, we'd love to be the go-to place for subtle and minimal anime clothing. It's definitely going to take us awhile though - we've got a lot of anime to watch. Oh, and maybe doing a pop-up shop somewhere in between?
In 5 words or less describe your brand?