Not content with being a small, flourishing cult record label, Kitsune have expanded into a fashion line as well. Offering good quality, casual, simple clothes, their t-shirts and jumpers are popping up in cool boutiques all around the world. We went to Paris to meet one of the owners, Gildas Loaec, to talk about why mixing music and fashion makes a lot of sense.
What’s the last thing you released?
We’ve done Kitsune Love and Kitsune Midnight compilation albums, and the latest is Kitsune X. Love was about love, Midnight was more clubby. This third one was meant to be more sexual and dirty, but then in the end we thought it wasn’t working, so we kind of lost that concept, but it’s still a cool compilation.
How long have you been running?
We’ve been going for 3 years, and we do a compilation each year. I know the music scene from working with Daft Punk. I’m sort of their manager; I do a bit of everything for them, from going to the post office to dealing with the press. But for their third album, which is out very soon, they are doing no promotion so it’s very easy!
Who is in Kitsune?
There are 6 of us in Kitsune. Masaya and myself in France, and then we have 4 free-lancers in London who do the images, graphic design and sometimes they help with concepts too.
How would you describe your music?
The music is a bit poppy. It’s electro with some rock in there too. But we try to be quite commercial too, and that’s difficult.
Who have you signed recently?
We just signed a band called Hot Chip, from England. We sign artists sometimes just for one song, its not like we’re doing big album deals. So we released one Black Strobe song last year, and Trevor Jackson and so on.
Do you DJ?
Yes, as ‘Gildas and Masaya’ – we have a little reputation growing. We are playing Weekend in Berlin next month and last night we were playing in the Culture Club in Gent.
How hard is it to be a small independent label?
Well, we don’t have any money. We earn a bit of money but we put everything back into our clothes. Because at the end of the day we really want to be a clothes line, so we are always looking for new fabrics and good manufacturers, and it’s not easy when you are little, because no companies want to work with you because you’re not coming to them with 1000 pieces to order, its more like 70 or 80 pieces. And it’s hard to find.
What clubs in Paris are the kind to play Kitsune’s music?
Le Pulp, Bar 3, The Rex – I like clubs with good sound systems, and that’s not so easy to find here in Paris. I also like Le Baron, but that’s not electronic, it’s a bit posher and sort of 70s music.
And why did you decide that Kitsune should move into fashion?
Well, we wanted to earn some money! But in fact we wanted a global company that does a bit of everything, doing some clothes and a music label is cool. In France not many people have tried doing this, or they’ve not done it well. We want to have a go at doing it properly.
How did you decide on the look for Kitsune?
It’s very classic. Yes, we wanted it very casual and really simple, but everything is well-cut with good quality fabrics. We want people to come back again and again because they know it’s good quality and so worth the price.
And is this your main store?
This is like a boutique and showroom. We have lots of buyers coming in from department stores. We are selling a bit through Colette, Madame Andre, and five places in Tokyo. Also in Melbourne, Hong Kong and then maybe Browns Focus in London. But it takes a long time to work these things out, to meet them, talk with them, show them the clothes, wait around and so on. It’s a long process.
How much is a t-shirt?
About 140 euro. It’s a bit expensive but not really in comparison to the other brands they will be sitting next to. But of course not many people know us yet, we are not a big brand. But that’s what we are working towards.
Do you see the music as promoting the clothes or the clothes as promoting the music?
Altogether the Kitsune compilation albums have sold 60,000, and we are selling more each time. The money we get from that we use to do advertising for the clothes and so on. Little by little more people know us.
How would you describe the typical Kitsune customer?
A little bit curious. People who have some money and are a bit addicted to fashion. People that are into something that’s not a big brand yet.
Fashion stores like Colette want to get into music, and you’re a record label wanting to get into clothes. Does that strike you as funny?
That’s why we have such a good relationship with Colette. We did some shoes with Colette, some New Balance trainers that we customised, and they stock some of our clothes.
And your main plan for the future is to focus on the clothes?
Yes. The record label is going quite well because we have been going a few years now, we are happy with it. It’s not so difficult now, as the shops and distributors know us. Now people call us you know, if we have a new CD out or something. So now we will focus on the clothes, and just see how it goes.
Text: Liz McGrath