Tokyo-based couple Verbal and Yoon started their own label Ambush back in 2008. The core was rough, street-inspired unisex jewelry pieces made by craftsmen in Japan. Over time, the designers decided to create apparel pieces to round off the aesthetics that they wanted to tell the world about: Asymmetrical tops, short-waisted denim jackets and leather biker jackets are brand staples, while black, white and red are predominant among the colors. 

Their bold approach has granted them collaboration with high-profile names like Louis Vuitton, Maison Kitsuné, Sacai and Undercover. Two weeks ago, Ambush opened the doors of its first flagship store in Tokyo, designed by architecture studio Wonderwall. Seizing the opportunity, we spoke with Yoon about their designs, future plans with the brand and if there’s still a gap between Western and Eastern fashion.       

Ambush - current campaign image.
© Ambush
Ambush - current campaign image.

In many cases, your jewelry pieces are appropriations of popular culture elements like metal chains, locks and screws. What customer do you have in mind for these items?  

Our customers are definitely unique individuals who have strong sense of style and open outlook on fashion. They appreciate the playful side and well-made good quality fashion.  

Ambush products currently available in their website.
© Ambush
Ambush products currently available in their website.
 

Your clothing seems to perfectly match the jewelry offering – Tell us about your design process. How is it like? What do you get inspired by?

We initially started off making few clothes because we realized during look book shoots we didn’t want to use other brands. It came from a place of complete creative control of our message and telling the story.  For apparel brands, jewelry and accessories accent the collection, but for us, it’s the other way around. Everything else accents the jewelry.

The design process is pretty simple. We start when the new collection starts and try to go with what we are feeling at that moment, kind of guessing and following our own intuition. Inspiration comes from many places but they all have the same underline, which is youth. The state of something unfiltered, pure and innocent.

Inspiration comes from many places but they all have the same underline, which is youth. The state of something unfiltered, pure and innocent.

Yoon, Ambush

Congratulations on your recently-opened first flagship store in Tokyo! Is it the first one of a series of openings or just the embodiment of the brand ethos into a very own space?  

Thank you! The store was a long process in the making but we like to do things organically and with intuition; it was right for us to open now in 2016. The space designed by Masamichi Katayama from Wonderwall perfectly embodies what we wanted. It’s simple to make the items stand out and enables us to create new atmospheres that give different vibe to each collection.

Ambush store in Tokyo.
© Dan Bailey
Ambush store in Tokyo.

What are your long-term ambitions with Ambush? Can we expect forays in other fields like arts and music through high-profile collaborations?

We want to keep pushing boundaries through creation of jewelry and build a unique business model that works for us instead of following footsteps of the existing old houses. 

Yes, we have lots of fun collaborations coming up in the future but we can’t disclose the information for now. Closer to the time, we’ll let you know.



Asia is a major source of inspiration among many Western fashion designers these days. But despite of the current popularity, it seems that still only a few lucky brands and designers from this continent go global. Do you feel that still Europe and North America are imposing a cultural hegemony? 

There might be differences in cultures and taste but we don’t think anyone is imposing anything on anyone in our generation. You either have the global mind and make things good so that it reaches lots of people around the world or not. The world is so much closer with internet; no one should use geological location as an excuse. Anyone can project anything from anywhere now. 

Ambush jewelry display within the brand store.
© Dan Bailey
Ambush jewelry display within the brand store.

The world is so much closer with internet; no one should use geological location as an excuse. Anyone can project anything from anywhere now.

Yoon, Ambush

Ambush store in Tokyo
© Dan Bailey
Ambush store in Tokyo