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Honma Masaaki is the founder of mastermind JAPAN, the menswear label known well for their use of the skull and crossbones icon, even with high fashion suiting.

This is a fascinating read from the honest and self-reflective designer, who tells a story of debt and daring, with success almost being founded on a mentality that he had to try his best before he inevitably failed. Luckily he didn’t fail, and goes on to be a really inspiring guy for budding menswear designers out there. Read an excerpt below of the moment that Masaaki’s luck changed, and read the full interview in four parts here.

“Just as I was becoming emotional about the fact that my life as a designer had ended, a buyer that had come to see me since the first season came to see me on the night of the 3rd day of the 3rd season exhibition. “I really like your line-up! I will bring the owner with me tomorrow.” On the 4th day, the final day of the exhibition, the buyer and owner came to see me. After showing them all the samples and handing them the order form, the two whispered to each other with serious expressions. Then they told me they would order my clothes. It was the first time to get a big order like that of several million yen. The order came from Maxfield, LA. I couldn’t believe it, but the order did come after I was back in Japan. I said that the deal would be done if they paid me 50% advance. And they did. I realized that they were not joking. ” – Honma Masaaki