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Fri, Apr 23, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
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Rei Matsunuma
by Hong Xin Yi

He may have joined Uniqlo only in 2004, but Rei Matsunuma’s love for design was clear long before he became manager of the Japanese casualwear brand’s popular UT T-shirt line.

As a lad, he loved to draw and used to create CD cover art for imaginary bands,
slotting the designs into jewel cases and sneaking them into Tokyo’s Tower Records and HMV outlets.

“I would stand around and wait for customers to pick up my designs,” the baby-faced 31-year-old recalls.

“Nobody ever tried to buy them, so nobody discovered there were no CDs inside.”

These days, the former graphic designer no longer has to channel his talent into such guerilla campaigns. He heads the design team behind UT and also ropes in external brands and assorted creative people to design for the line.

This year’s bumper crop of UT shirts, for instance, features 1,300 designs, including those featuring It Brit model Agyness Deyn and her sister Emily, American arthouse director Vincent Gallo and CD cover art from indie bands signed to London’s iconic Domino Record Company.

“A good T-shirt makes the person wearing it feel proud and happy. The design should also be a conversation starter and make people say things like ‘Oh, that looks cool’ or ‘I have also seen that movie’. I can always tell what a person likes from his T-shirt collection,”says Matsunuma, whose wife also works in the
apparel industry and is expecting the couple’s first child.

His growing family and responsibilities at work leave the avid traveller little time to be a globe-trotter. However, he has his sights set on some dream destinations anyway. “I want to go to India to experience the energy there, and also to Pantagonia to see the landscapes.”

>> Find out the seven essential things that Rei brings along with him in his bag

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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