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Kitsuné Tailors Hits and Clothes

The man who has quietly assembled one of indie dance’s most exclusive cool kids’ clubs is nothing like what you’d expect. You’d never think this quiet stranger with the heavy brow, tasteful button-up, and habit of fidgeting with forks and cell phones would have managed Thomas Bangalter’s Roulé label, traveled the world with Daft Punk, and created a label that’s brought acts like Wolfmother, Klaxons, Digitalism, and Boyz Noize to bedrooms and clubs worldwide.

But Gildas Loaec’s got quite a lot up his well-tailored sleeve–as his Kitsuné label, named after the Japanese word for “fox,” shows. But this is not Kitsune’s only connection to Japan. The idea for the imprint was first conceived during a trip Loaec and his partner, Masaya Kuroki, took to Tokyo with Daft Punk. Seeing opportunities in the Japanese market, they decided to start a fashion label, but it took so long to deal with manufacturers and find the right fabrics that they launched a record label in the meantime.

Part of the label’s success is that Loaec pays as much attention to curating their Kitsuné Maison compilations as Kuroki does the cut of the clothes. The eye-catching packaging, by London design collective Åbake, conveys the excitement of the catchy alternative dance-pop contained within, made by young bands that are the exact opposite of “faceless techno” producers.

Far from the “eclectic, poppy, and entertaining” mantra that drives the music, the Kitsuné clothing line–now in its second season–is a luxurious, understated affair. Far past post-rave, its cashmere cardigans and piquée polos emblazoned with tiny foxes wouldn’t look out of place in an upper-crust London bar. Kitsuné will even issue footwear designed by Pierre Hardy of Balenciaga and Hermès fame, available from their appointment-only Palais Royal atelier.

“It’s sort of a challenge,” says Loaec of Kitsuné’s double life. “People think if you’re doing a music label, you can’t do a clothing label–like you don’t have the credibility. In Japan, where we are mainly sold, they get it though; it’s more of a lifestyle thing.”

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