Behind The Design: Shinya Hasegawa Of Battenwear

To mark the arrival of our latest Battenwear AW19 delivery, we spoke to founder and designer Shinya Hasegawa to learn more about the history of the brand, details behind this seasons collection and what inspires him day on a daily basis.

Could you explain how Battenwear began and the main concept of the brand for those who may not know?

SHINYA: I started Battenwear in in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY. I’d long been a collector of classic American outdoor clothing and sportswear, actually ever since I was a teenager in Tokyo. I really love the details and practicality of old mountain parkas and hiking bags and athletic gear. I also like how a lot of American brands focus on durability and functionality—the lack of focus on fashion makes it cool to me. Especially when you mix it with contemporary fashion pieces.

When I was coming up with the concept for Battenwear, I mainly wanted to make functional gear for the activities I like most: surfing trips, hiking, camping, and traveling. I wanted everything I made to have classic details and construction but also look contemporary. The Travel Shell Parka was the first item I made. I wanted a jacket that I could wear hard on a hike in the woods that would also look great when I came back into the city—so that I would have to pack only one jacket when I traveled.

You travel a lot between surfing and working in New York and also exploring the outdoors and working on Battenwear in your second office in California – how does this influence your designs?

SHINYA: There’s an amazing and really helpful contrast between New York’s Garment District, where our first office opened, and Topanga Canyon in California, where I live and keep my design studio. The work I do in New York is set to the sound track of sirens and honking horns. In Topanga, it’s crickets and frogs and birdsong. Both places have great communities. In New York, it’s MUCH easier to do everything because our factories and suppliers are all within easy walking distance. In addition, there’s so much sensory influence—just getting on the subway, you can study new trends in colors and silhouettes. New York is a truly unique place and I miss it a lot when I’m not there. But in Topanga, it’s easier to focus on the designs and be creative, especially since I can clear my head anytime with a quick hike Topanga State Park or a surf session with friends at the beach close by. I really enjoy being able to live in nature in California in a way that’s impossible in New York.

Is there a particular piece in the new AW19 collection which you are excited about?

SHINYA: I made a new down jacket called the Batten-Down Deck Jacket. I call it my “dad jacket” because it feels like the jacket I want to be wearing to pick up my kids and go camping in. It hasn’t really started to be autumn yet in southern California, but I’m really looking forward to wearing this jacket when it finally cools down in Topanga.

You are known to enjoy vintage made in USA garments, which brands are impressing you with their current collections?

SHINYA: Hmm. I wish I had a better answer for this. I wish there were more made in USA brands. Of course I really like Engineered Garments. Daiki has long been my mentor and friend. He always makes something new and unique and groundbreaking, and that really inspires me and motivates me. But I don’t know about a lot of other made in USA brands that are active right now.

We love hearing about stories that influence your designs such as the extra pocket seen on your 5-pocket Canyon Shirt inspired by the need to have a extra pocket that fits a subway card whilst on the way to the beach carrying a surfboard – please could you explain inspirations or any more stories like this you may have behind these items from your AW19 collection?

Northfield Parka

SHINYA: I started designing this jacket during the Polar Vortex in 2013 for AW14. It was so amazingly cold in Manhattan that winter and I really wanted something that would help me feel like I could survive it. I asked my wife what I should call this parka and she suggested “Northfield” because that’s the name of the town in Minnesota where she went to college. Her freshman year of college, they had so much snow and cold weather that she almost gave up. This is the jacket she wished she had. It’s still one of my favorites for winter.

Five Pocket Canyon Shirt

SHINYA: Living in Topanga, CA, I love going hiking in the evenings. I like my Five Pocket Island Shirt a lot and wanted to have a long sleeve version as a kind of shirt jacket. So I made this.

Pocket Rugby Shirt

SHINYA: I played rugby in Japan as a teenager and I really fell in love with the sport and the gear. I still have my old rugby shirts and shorts. A couple of years ago I was able to get in touch with a factory in Canada that could make a truly authentic rugby shirt so I jumped at the chance. I added the chest pocket to make the shirt more practical for everyday wear.

Team Reach Up Hoodie

SHINYA: This is another made in Canada item. Canada does such good knits—they have different machinery than we do in the US. I really love this hoody and wanted to make a version of it with our logo printed on it. Like, join the team!

Lastly, which was the last book read and record you listened to that you felt inspired you?

SHINYA: Once of the most recent, best books I read was Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I really enjoyed learning about the history of Nike. All chapters ended in failure—there were so many challenges that they faced when building the brand. The message of struggle was inspiring. Because of course, with a small brand like Battenwear, we have daily struggle. It encouraged me to keep on trying. And it encouraged me to see the benefits of making mistakes.

For music, I’ve been on 1990’s electronic kick lately, like Stereolab and Apex Twins. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because when I’m designing I tend to get nostalgic and like to think about when I felt really happy and inspired, like in college, which is when I was most into these bands.  

New AW19 arrivals from Battenwear. Online now.