Please Don’t Throw Your Love Away
Please Don’t Throw Your Love Away (PDTYLA) is a fashion and social project by Shunji and Kazuma, two young Japanese men using their creativity to enact social change. We interviewed founder Shunji about the origin of the project and his vision.
Homelessness is present in every country in the world, and yet those who are homeless often find themselves stigmatised; society creates boundaries that ostracises those in need. Of course, money is an important resource in the bid towards helping the homeless, but love and respect can also create a lasting impression on someone—and more importantly a human connection. By breaking this barrier down, young people can feel more empowered to petition their governments to bring about change.
We took to the streets to show our support, but more importantly to send a message and start a movement. Young people are the faces and drivers of change. By coming together and using our creative bond we can encourage others to not throw their love away.
How did the brand name and slogan “Please Don’t Throw Your Love Away” come about?
On February 2018, I was in Los Angeles, California for a month. I saw many homeless people on the street, and some of them even came up to me and asked for money. When I saw that, I wanted to create something positive that could make others happy. I was a little bit depressed in my life for about 6 months after graduating from high school. For the whole time, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, and what I loved to do, but I was uncertain about my future. As people start facing reality, I feel like they would throw their love away, and stop pursuing their dreams.
I just wanted to share positive energy to others around me, and to print positive and relatable words on a T-shirt was my way of expressing my feelings. Even today, “Please Don’t Throw Your Love Away” reminds me to not throw my love away, and to not give up on what I’m trying to do. I think this message is true for everyone in this world.
Since I started the project, the message has evolved to support change against stigma towards those that are homeless.
How did you get into designing? Did you have prior experience before starting PDTYLA?
I think when I first got into proper designing was when I was about 14 years old. I was designing stickers for my friends that I used to skate with. I was making stickers and giving them away to friends in junior high school. That’s when I really started to create something. Around that time, I also started filming and editing videos and taking pictures, too.
When I went to high school in Los Angeles, in 11th grade, I met one of my best friends Ethan Gonzalez. One day, he said to me “let’s make a clothing brand together”. He was good at drawing, so he designed the logo for our first brand “Avoir Bon Dos”. We were trying to put that logo on a T-shirt at that time and I found out there is a kit that would let you make your own screen prints. After I bought it and learned how it works, we were just making new designs, and printing shirts every day. That’s when I started going to LA Fashion District to buy blank shirts.
I always tell people that I have no creativity, but I know how to make things happen.
I was able to make designs, and make shirts without knowing anything about it—we were just doing whatever felt right. This experience connects to why I started to print PDTYLA on a T-shirt.
Why did you decide to create a brand dedicated to a social cause?
When I started, I didn’t think that I was doing something for a social cause. Everything in my mind was to make others happy—to share love and positive energy. As I kept doing what I wanted to do, it ended up becoming a social impact project when I realised how much impact a powerful message could have.
I realised that young people had much more power than they realised, and that they could be the key figures to help fight stigma against a demonised group like the homeless often are. By empowering them to cross the boundary that society draws between those that are homeless on the street and those that walk on by, I think it becomes so much easier to help these people in effective ways such as petitioning your government to get those in need off of the streets. I realised that what many young people such as myself really needed to get social change going was a unifying message that invokes our compassion and allows us to move forward together.
Did you always intend for your brand to be a streetwear brand?
I did, because this is the actual “streetwear” that people are wearing on the street. PDTYLA is a next level streetwear brand that pushes us to share the most important thing in our lives with others.
Where do you find inspiration for designing?
I find my inspiration from everything that I feel. Literally everything and everyone that I see. Whoever I meet, I learn one good thing about that person and try to observe it to improve myself.
What’s the last piece of culture that you loved and why?
I would say the book “The Alchemist” that my friend Paul from Germany recommended me. He is one of my best friends that I met in Tokyo, and he kept telling me that I should read it. This book gave me a totally different view of my life. I learned so much stuff.
Any last words?
Thank you to The COMM team again for this opportunity, I’m having fun doing this together.
For everyone who’s been supporting me, pushing me forward, I appreciate you all. I would not be here writing all of this if I didn’t meet you. Every one of you matters in my life. I’m still pursuing my dream, so I hope you are, too.
Have a great day.
Models: @tokyo_lioness @lin_a_sarhan @filthynarcissist @hanechica
Shoot direction: @choom.online @anna.boat.prem