French record label Kitsune is coming to town

Richard Lord

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 July, 2013, 12:46am

The world's most achingly cool, hipster-beloved record label is on its way to Hong Kong in more ways than one. Not only is France's Kitsuné label hosting a night fronted by eclectic-electro DJ Jerry Bouthier at Kee Club this weekend, it also has plans to open a store in the city.

Those two events may not seem to be related, but then that's Kitsuné: this most schizophrenic of firms is both a music label and a clothing brand - and runs them separately.

Before ... you had to go to a gig somewhere. Now you discover [bands] on YouTube or Soundcloud.
Gildas Loaec

What unites its two halves is a shared vision of the two founders, Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaëc.

"Our mission is to be a proper music label and to have a proper clothing line, not just to do merchandise," says Loaëc, whose focus is more on the music side.

"Kitsune" is Japanese for "fox", reflecting the protean nature of the company and also of the music it releases. For a small label, it has worked with quite a roster, including Hot Chip, La Roux, Klaxons, Digitalism, Bloc Party and Simian Mobile Disco. Its latest releases come from Irish indie-rockers Two Door Cinema Club and British electro-rock trio Is Tropical.

For a sense of how music that runs from electro to indie to synthpop fits together, check out one of the numerous mixes released over the years, in which the disparate strands of its collective taste are distilled into a compendium of cool. In fact, the brand manages to achieve its hipster credentials by sheer force of attitude and will. Even Loaëc saying he'd like to sign Adele can't dent that.

Neither is Kitsuné's clothing the kind of cutting-edge street wear you might expect. The brand's mostly casual offerings focus on a classic, English style.

In fact, Loaëc adds, Kitsuné's two businesses aren't even aimed at the same people. Where the label's music tends to appeal mainly to 15- to 25-year-olds, its clothes tap a 30 to 50 demographic - partly because of the restrained style and partly because the clothes aren't cheap.

After launching its first store in Paris in 2008, it added a New York outlet in May 2012, another in Tokyo in February this year, and is currently scouting for a location in Hong Kong, with a planned launched date of June 2014 - although Loaëc says that he, like everyone else, has found that "the rents are just crazy".

Then there's the club night on Saturday. Loaëc, who has deejayed for the brand on numerous occasions worldwide, unfortunately won't be attending as he has a holiday with his young family.

He doesn't go out as much these days - although, for artists and repertoire duties, technology has stepped into the breach. "Before the internet, when you were discovering a new band, you had to go to a gig somewhere," he says. "Now you discover them on YouTube or Soundcloud. It's the magic of the internet - but to be sure they're really good, these days you actually need to organise a gig."

Kitsuné Club Night with Jerry Bouthier, July 27, 11pm, Kee Club, 6/F, 32 Wellington Street, Central, HK$200 (advance), HK$300 (door). Inquiries: 2810 9000