The Samurai challenging the world with leather as a weapon : Isamu Katayama

The Samurai challenging the world with leather as a weapon : Isamu Katayama
Born in Hiroshima in 1965, Katayama had a close and deep relationship with leather since childhood, not only as a material but also as a representation of sweet memories, ones spent with his father on his motorbike, fully covered from head to toe with this second skin, offering both protection and a sense of toughness. After his father death in a motorbike accident, who he would refer to as his hero, leather craft would be the path proudly honoring his memory, forever sourounded by the smell that brings back these precious moments.
Katayama moved to Tokyo in 1983, and, at 18 years old, already knew what he wanted to do. In order to reach his goal, he started his carrier working part time for a bag manufacturer, allowing him to discover this complex fabric on a more technical aspect, exploring various skills, and making contacts. Katayama described these years in Tokyo as tough, and building his dream was not an easy thing.
It’s only in 1998, 14 years after, that « ISAMU KATAYAMA : BACKLASH » will be created. The word « BACKLASH » is his response to the traditional japanese leathercraft. Katayama is looking to do something new, where craftmanship and refined skills are highly valued, and friendships and teamwork are honored with a strong Rock’n’roll spirit.
The mastering of leathercraft Katayama offers is reached through the ability to understand and experiment with this unique and complex material. Leather goods are carefully crafted from various types of leathers, hand-dyed, intricately processed, and all finished by hand in his atelier, where the small team, and friends, are carefully polishing every detail. The same quality can also be found in non leather products, such as the 12oz sleevedge denim western shirts, rabbit fur embroidered knits, or soft washed linen jacket with natural hand-dye, to state a few of them.
Besides clothing, the brand also propose silver jewelery and accessories, such as pendants, wallet chains, rings and bracelets, with a raw and brutalist design often including leathercraft. Keeping up with the top craftsmanship, they collabored with, for instance, Jun Uezono, who is handmaking each single piece one by one, on the spot for small ones, or in the Aso workshop for larger ones demanding bigger equipments. He uses forging as his main method, reproducing primitive carving, with a chisel and a hammer, allowing to sculpt and shape the material heated to high temperature, in a particular way that highlights the charm of aging. He also uses oxydation methods in order to achieve a very strong and raw shading, enhencing the textures and design details of the pieces.
Katayama also works with small family businesses, like Kurosawa Leathers from Osaka, and leather artisan Sadao Kurosawa, which, not only supports artisanal and local workers, but also establish a trustworthy relashionship between different actors of the creating process.
The brand offers each season a solid selection of products with a few models that are now staples, like the notorious garment dyed engineer boots, each time proposing various choices of colours/dyes and designs, from good basics to loud and detailed pieces that are one of a kind. As said earlier, the strong Rock’n’roll spirit can be felt in every collection, but experiments and inspirations are various, each time reinventing leathercraft in a new way. « Japanese people have a certain way to understand other cultures and reinterpret them in their own way to create something new. » Katayama says.
The spring 2012 « Next Native Collection » directly refers to Americana, with rock and tribal influences, featuring bright and colored items, western shirts and denim/ leather combinations, leathers are finished with a specific treatment giving a used and vintage look. The fall 2012 collection « Norman Man », takes it’s roots into Nothern Europe, imagining a man walking through wild and cold forests, being one with nature, dressed in shearling coats and furs, thick boiled wools, patterned garnments in natural tones.
As Backlash started to get recognised and acknowleged in the fashion scene, Katayama and his team managed to appear for the first time at Paris fashion week for the spring 2004 collection, with the idea to present leathercraft made in Japan to the world. Year after year, the brand managed to attract buyers from all over the world and sell to well known stores, such as Royal Flash (also hosting If Six Was Nine, Roen, ect…), The Library (also hosting Elena Dawson, Uma Wang,…), or H.Lorenzo. The brand also makes regular collaborations, with japanese designers and friends sharing the same spirit and wilderness, such as Roll, Roen (Hiromu Takahara), Roar Guns (Saburo Hamanaka), but also big names like Yohji Yamamoto for the fall 2018 collection, Guidi or Incarnation, adding Katayama’s name to the small list of top designers from Japan.
Backlash doesn’t have for now any retail point in France, but we’re proudly selling vintage products including leather jackets, denims, boots and wallets, hoping you will give them a rock’n’roll second life and discover / enjoy their high quality craftmanship for a fair price.
Backlash items for sale :
Backlash official website :