The visionary founder of Norbit talks about his relationship with the outdoors and sports imagery channeled into the hiking-themed capsule developed with KARHU

The new frontier of aesthetics is functionality. This assumption may seem paradoxical but is made explicit in the research of Hiroshi Nozawa and his futuristic brand, Norbit. It is no coincidence that the philosophical origins of this Japanese designer, capable of fusing beauty, culture and pragmatism, took root in sports. It is again no coincidence that hiking, fishing, and other action sports are the cornerstones of his progressive output.

‘Field, Journey, Chill-Out,’ this haiku-esque claim comprises the essence of Nozawa, his active relationship with the outdoors, and his fashion vision. That vision is echoed in the unique capsule collection ‘Have a Nice Hike,’ produced in synergy with KARHU. “I’ve always wanted to produce more than just fashion attire,” Nozawa confesses, “When I design garments, I think of them as tools that allow me to do as many things as possible. In my vision, waterproof shoes, for example, have the same value as a fishing rod. Everything is functional, and everything revolves around functionality.”

An avid hiker, fisherman, traveler, and contemplator of nature, Nozawa transforms everyday epiphanies into hybrid designs that combine the need for survival and comfort dictated by nature with innovative forms and materials, even for high-end fashion. “The outdoors and everything that comes from it are my great passions. That’s why I want everything I design to be equally usable by those in contact with nature as those who stay in the city.” Nozawa continues, shifting the focus to another topic close to his heart: sports culture, “I am a sport-minded person, and, like many of us from Japan, I love action sports. In collaborating with KARHU, I wanted to respect that incredible sports heritage that the brand enjoys.  ‘Have a Nice Hike’ revolves around the desire to connect the tradition of an iconic sports brand with the best in contemporary technical materials.”

A master of rational harmony, Nozawa is a skilled material craftsman who, after collaborating with renowned Japanese companies like Columbia Black Label and Snow Peak, is now devoting his energy to the exaltation of a functional paradigm. “The ‘Have a Nice Hike’ collection obviously focuses on the concept of hiking. In this case, functionality is related to detail, like the pockets. I don’t like to carry backpacks or bags while hiking, so I decided to add several pockets on the various garments, paying close attention to the functionality of the fabrics used: I often use stretch materials because they are essential for comfort, but in this case, they would have been unnecessary… Each part of the garment has its specific purpose and must be designed to best achieve that purpose. Everything must have a reason.” 

“This kind of creative and stylistic process can be applied to any sport or physical activity,” Nozawa continues. “Snowboarding, surfing, BMX…. In the future, I’m going to launch lines dedicated to and inspired by these and other disciplines. I strongly believe that typical sportswear and more technical fabrics can be made fashionable and worn in everyday life.” However, the future of this alchemist and inventor of silhouettes is not limited to the creative direction of a new, futuristic fashion-sport dimension; it is the desire to leave a legacy for future generations. Nozawa scribbles down that legacy daily in his trusty sketchbook, where every insight takes shape, every material is already imagined and every function already established. 

“My goal is to lay new foundations for the fashion world, to build foundations for its future. I would be happy if, a century from now, people still respected my work and if new generations fully understood the concepts I was trying to convey, and then repurposed them in turn. This is the direction I have taken.”