excube: True Club & Rave Fashion in Osaka

This alternative store and gallery has been a source of creative inspiration for more than a decade thanks to the independent vision of its founder.
Makoto Hiroko, founder of excube.

excube (@excube) is one of those alternative fashion stores that, beyond selling clothes, become a source of aesthetic and creative inspiration that influences the communities where they are located. excube has been one such place in Osaka since its opening almost twelve years ago. 

Its creator Makoto Hiroko decided to break away from commercial fashion and create a selection of vintage clothing and independent labels, in a space filled with design objects and books, iconic fashion magazines, and art by emerging creators. Driven by his passion for music and his connection to Berlin, Makoto has filled excube with garments from the 90s-2000s rave and club culture. 

If excube has become a reference, it is not only because of everything that can be found in the store. Makoto’s vision in creating this project demonstrates an unsubmissive point of view about fashion, work culture, and the lifestyle that is imposed on us in today’s society. 

Chorareii: Could you explain what excube is?

Makoto Hiroko: excube is an alternative space in Namba, Osaka, consisting of an art gallery space and a shop space selling vintage and indie designer brands.

How did you start working in fashion?

When I was a university student in my hometown, Matsuyama City in Ehime prefecture, there was a store that I often went to. Every time I went there, I fell more and more in love with fashion. I started working there as a member of the store staff around 1993, where I became a buyer. 

The name of the store is “cube.” My roots in fashion are there, that’s why I decide to call my own shop “excube” when I opened it. 

There was a point in your life when fashion let you down. Could you tell me about that?

I was often traveling to Paris to see the new collections at the fashion week. I went to a lot of fashion shows and read a lot of fashion magazines. However, with the flood of copy designs and fast fashion becoming the mainstream, I lost my passion for fashion and quit my job around 2003.

Even now, I’m not really interested in big brands. I’m more interested in original indie brands and vintage. 

Was this the reason you opened excube? How were the beginnings?

After I quit my job as a buyer, I worked an office job in the semiconductor industry for 5 years. I made a good amount of money and was able to buy a lot of clothes and books that I liked, but the work was boring and unfulfilling.

In 2011 when I was 35 years old, I thought about my life and decided to quit the job and start excube.

«In the 90s, the internet and social media were not mainstream as they are today, so magazines were a very important source of information,» says Makoto.

In excube you offer a selection of clubbing and raving fashion. You also have been traveling to Berlin since a long time ago. What do you think of the club culture? 

In the past few years, I have been paying attention to the 90’s club culture in Europe. I have been introduced to a lot of people who have taught me about the ’90s and sold me used clothes.

With the recent revival of 90’s and 00’s culture, I feel that the scene from those days is once again attracting attention from young people.

How did you live the 90s and 00s yourself? What do you feel now that they are back in trend?

I think the 90s was the time when I was most passionate about fashion, art, music, and magazines. It’s nostalgic to see the revival now, but it’s also fun to learn about new scenes (club culture, etc.) that I didn’t pay attention to back then.

In excube you have a huge collection of fashion magazines, especially from the 90s. What did the magazines contribute to your relationship with fashion? I’d also like to know if you’re still buying magazines today.

In the 90s, the internet and social media were not mainstream as they are today, so magazines were a very important source of information. I used to buy a lot of magazines, and if I found a brand I liked, I would call or fax the number on the credits and visit the studio to buy the clothes. 

I still buy magazines, but mostly vintage ones. I rarely buy new issues because I don’t use magazines as a source of information anymore. Social media platforms are enough for buying nowadays.  

What do you think of how fashion and personal style are spread on social media?

Social media are convenient because they are an easy way to discover new things. On the other side, they are also a little boring because they make the same styles spread quickly. 

«With the flood of copy designs and fast fashion becoming the mainstream, I lost my passion for fashion […] I’m not really interested in big brands. I’m more interested in original indie brands and vintage,» explains Makoto. 

Tell me about the store’s fanzine.

I make a zine called “49/81” irregularly. Half of the pages include photos from Germany and the rest are photos from events in the store.

It’s not for sale, so I give it to people I meet. Photos on social media are easy to make, but they also disappear from my memory quickly. This zine is like a diary for me, an important way to keep my memories. 

excube is also a gallery. What kind of artists has exhibited their art in the space?

Most of the artists are people I know personally or through their connections. ikik, Akina Tokiyoshi, Hen Nakao, emil ohlund, UN©︎! I can’t even begin to list them all.

You have a musical project, Copy, with great influence from the ’80s. Tell me about it!

All of our members are about the same age as me, over 40, but I’m trying my best to keep challenging myself and having fun no matter how old I get!

How does a store remain a benchmark for 11 years? 

I have decided to do what I can without pushing myself too hard. The main reason I’ve been able to do this for 11 years is because of my wife, who lets me do whatever I want!

Many people, both in life and in style, aspire to luxury: more money, expensive brands, and so on. You have decided to maintain your store yourself and support emerging designers. Tell me about your vision of life.

It’s up to each individual to decide which makes them happier: working a stressful job to try to get a luxurious life, or living a life doing what they love but with time and money constraints. I’m in the latter camp. I’d rather live a non-stressful life surrounded by cats!

Shop excube’s clothing and read about its gallery exhibitions on its website.

Follow excube (@excube) on Instagram.


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