Man… or mannequin? Mr. Fendi Man is a mystery wrapped in a monogram. Perched on a ledge like a jacquard gargoyle in Ginza, Tokyo's upscale shopping district, this living display model for Italian luxury fashion house Fendi causes pedestrians to stare in confusion and wonder. Some stop for selfies, others peer at the face under the hat. Everyone has the same question--what lies behind the mask?
The world wants to know: who is Mr. Fendi Man?
I’m just your average college student.
Do you major in fashion or design?
No, law. I have a job lined up so I’ll be a productive member of society as of next year.
Working at Fendi?
No no, at an automotive company! I bombed my interview with Fendi because I can’t speak English. Louis Vitton also expects employees to speak Chinese with English as a backup. Business these days, it’s all Chinese tourists.
Tell me your origin story.
One day I found an old trunk at my grandmother’s house. Inside was the jacket I’m wearing now. I thought it was super cool so my grandma gave it to me--she didn’t wear it anymore anyway. So I started collecting everything Fendi I could get my hands on. I own everything with a monogram there is to buy.
Then last April I came to Ginza wearing all-over Fendi. When I sat down to rest in front of the Fendi store, people stopped to take pictures. That’s when I realized, “Hey, I’m a landmark!” It was fun so I began to wear this getup every weekend.
Why do you wear a mask?
My employer might see photos people upload of me. Twitter is a crazy place. I have to hide my face.
Do you ever run into trouble?
Not really. Once I got yelled at by staff of Matsuya (the department store that houses the Fendi shop). The crowd around me was so big that it blocked traffic. Technically Ginza bans street performers but there’s no rule against sitting on a window ledge. But blocking pedestrian traffic, that’s a problem.
What does the store think of you?
Floor employees haven't chased me out yet. They don't have the authority. On the other hand, they don't have the authority to hire me as a display either. But I met Fendi Japan president (Marco Giacometti) at the pop-up shop opening party. He was a fan of my Instagram! So that's something.
What is your mission?
Fendi only has one flagship store in Japan and I want to spread the brand. If people see me, hopefully they’ll realize how cool Fend is and go in to buy something.
In an age plagued by stealth marketing maybe blatant is the way to go.
What I do is more like direct marketing.
I like the custom items on your Instagram.
Yeah, I trimmed a pair of slacks into shorts and used the extra material to make this mask.
And the 7-Eleven uniform, is that from your part-time job?
Nah, I’ve never worked at a convenience store. I got the shirt from an online auction and modified it. I like any sort of flashy clothing, not just Fendi.
What else is in your collection?
I have three or four jackets along with a pair of long and short slacks plus six pairs of shoes--boots, sneakers, loafers. For Halloween I went to Disneyland with my friends and decked them all out in full Fendi.
How does a college student afford all this?
Every year the top ten students at my university get a 10 million yen scholarship. You know, for textbooks or to study abroad. But 10 million yen is an awful lot of money so I used what was leftover on Fendi.
So yeah, I’m pretty hardcore about my studies. This is how I blow off the stress.
Do your classmates know?
Some of them, like the guys I went to Disneyland with. But normally I wear clothes from Uniclo, Zara--you know, cheap stuff.
What about your family?
Oh, they're cool about it. They swing by to say hi sometimes. My grandma’s happy to see her jacket put to good use. Which reminds me, these items are all women's, except for the shoes.
Does Mr. Fendi Man have a posse?
If there were a Louis Vuitton Man or Prada Man or Gucchi Man I would love to walk the street with them. Vuitton Man might be tricky--there’s a jacket with their monogram, but no pants. Gucchi Man would have an easier time assembling a full-body outfit.
Do you have any other obsessions?
Not in particular. Which means I can spend all my money on Fendi!
You can meet Mr. Fendi Man in Ginza every Saturday at the Fendi pop-up shop or Matsuya department store.