“Linga Karma” by Yuto Kudo


“Linga Karma” by Yuto Kudo

Inspired by the Beat poets who rejected becoming cogs in the societal machine, seeking both mental and physical freedom while resisting the norms of their time and existing values, NICENESS crafted its SS24 collection ‘Golden Eternity.’ Drawing inspiration from the Eastern philosophies introduced by poet Gary Snyder and the fusion of Western culture, this collection’s philosophy served as a guiding principle in its creation. We extensively and deeply engaged with artisans in India in the creation process.

The Indian-made products featured in NICENESS’s collection are crafted in Varanasi, a city revered by pilgrims for its status as a holy site in Hinduism and Buddhism. In this city, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, shines in golden splendor, while along the western banks of the Ganges River, bathing ghats stretch where people offer prayers to the morning sun. The old city, intricately woven like a labyrinth, is home to dogs and cows that assert their presence with nonchalance.

For the SS24 season campaign shoot, we decided to rely on Mr. Chopra, who oversees production in India, and conduct the shoot in Varanasi, the heart of the theme. With just two individuals from NICENESS and one photographer, we formed a minimal team. The production, conducted amidst the whirlwind of the theme, in Varanasi presented a cultural and environmental context vastly different from Japan or Europe, resulting in a blend of exhilaration and tension like never before.

The photographer, Yuto Kudo, whom we commissioned for the campaign, was also captivated by India, much like the Beat poets and ourselves. Immersed in skateboarding since his student days, he became deeply engrossed in the adidas team, to which figures like Mark Gonzalez belonged, and was particularly drawn to Paulo Dias for his distinctive style. Paulo, known for playing the traditional Indian instrument, the tabla, further fueled Yuto’s fascination with India.

“I was inspired by the film ‘KIDS’ by Larry Clark, which I saw at a skate shop, to pursue a career as a photographer. However, with several classmates in high school aiming for photography departments, and being somewhat rebellious, I began to wonder if there were other intriguing paths. This led me to develop an interest in Indian philosophy. I attended an open campus event for the Indian philosophy department at a certain university, but I was completely overwhelmed and felt like it might be too difficult for me, which led to me giving up. That marked my first departure from India.

When I was in university studying photography, at the age of 20, I decided to embark on my first solo trip abroad. Of course, the destination was India. Full of enthusiasm, I researched various options on travel websites. However, it was the year following the 9/11 attacks, and as a result, tickets to New York were being sold at unusually low prices. Being young and adventurous, I didn’t hesitate to purchase a ticket to New York instead. That marked my second departure from India.

In my thirties, I became independent and started a family, and I began to think that maybe India was no longer part of my life. However, despite these thoughts, I noticed signs that seemed like premonitions. For instance, I saw Paulo still skateboarding and playing the tabla on Instagram, and in the autumn of ’23, Mr. Yamada from Silver magazine gave me a Shiva keychain souvenir from India. Looking back, these incidents felt like signs. It was amidst all this that I received the offer for this photo shoot.

The original plan to travel to India for the shoot was postponed due to various reasons. However, during another shoot in Kyoto, I drew a fortune slip at a shrine dedicated to the Seven Lucky Gods, and Daikokuten, associated with Shiva, appeared. Considering that Varanasi was the intended destination and, furthermore, that the rescheduled date coincided with the festival of Maha Shivaratri, which honors Shiva, I couldn’t help but think that this was some sort of karma.

After the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, I had been attending the Kanamara Matsuri, known as one of Japan’s most bizarre festivals, held at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki City every year for photography. There, a mikoshi (portable shrine) carrying a phallic symbol is paraded. In India, the linga, a symbol of the male organ and believed to be the embodiment of Shiva, is worshipped. I’m certain that I had been called by Shiva and his manifestation, the Shiva Linga, all along”

Yuto Kudo

社会の歯車になることを嫌い、精神と肉体の自由を求め時代や既存の価値観に抗ったビートの詩人達より着想を得たNICENESSのSS24コレクション‘Golden Eternity’。詩人ゲイリー・スナイダーがもたらした東洋思想と西洋文化を融合させた哲学が制作における指針となった本コレクションではインドの職人達とのものづくりに広く、そして深く取り組みました。



キャンペーンの制作にあたり撮影を依頼した写真家「工藤 佑斗」もまた、ビートの詩人達と同様にインドに魅せられた一人でした。学生時代からスケートボードにのめり込み、マーク・ゴンザレスらが所属するadidasチームに熱中し、中でも独自のスタイルを持っていたクイム・カルドナ、パウロ・ディアスに惹かれたそうです。パウロはインドの伝統多楽器タブラを演奏することでも知られていました。






工藤 佑斗

Creative Direction & Photography : Yuto Kudo
Art Direction : Kenji Ishiki (Vowel Inc.)
Styling : NICENESS Team
Production : Vowel Inc.