Possibly the most well-known Asian footballer, Hidetoshi Nakata goes from sports to fashion effortlessly. Often compared to David Beckham, his latest incarnation sees Nakata in nothing more than just a pair of skivvies.
It’s an incredibly hot and humid day but dark clouds are looming and the imminent threat of a torrential rain is suddenly very real. In the studio, a storm of another kind is brewing. The room is buzzing and everyone’s awaiting the arrival of one of the world’s most famous football superstars (besides David Beckham, of course) — Hidetoshi Nakata. The PR rep from Singapore is fussing over everyone, checking his Blackberry incessantly for updates on the launch party that night; the grooming duo sets up at a corner, their tools laid out neatly on the vanity table in case, god forbid, Nakata needs a touch-up. In town to launch Calvin Klein Underwear X, Nakata is one of the four global ambassadors for Calvin Klein Underwear X; Kellan Lutz from Twilight, True Blood’s Mehcad Brooks and Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco make up the remaining three. Soon, nervous scuttling is heard and a modest entourage walks in. Three managers and one PR rep from Hong Kong Calvin Klein quickly settles in. And as Nakata takes his place on a black sofa, his PR manager from New York asks that the wardrobe be presented for Nakata’s approval. While the buff ex-footballer is making his choices, the same manager requests for the list of questions prepared for him. “No, no, no, no,” she mutters under her breath as she strikes off certain questions on the list. Of course, the ones that relate to David Beckham are off limits.
How does it feel to be the first Asian face for Calvin Klein Underwear?
Obviously, to be a Calvin Klein model — especially a Calvin Klein underwear model — is a huge thing. It was a really big surprise and I really appreciate that.
What did you do to prepare for the campaign?
I knew that I’d be wearing just underwear and nothing else so I went for boxing training. I like boxing and it was only for a couple of times.
When did you get interested in fashion?
When did you get interested in fashion?Obviously, since I started working (after graduating from high school), I could afford to buy the things I like. Being a soccer player, with a little bit more money [laughs], I could afford more things. I liked looking at magazines, and when I could afford it, I bought what I liked.
Tell us a little about your style.
It all depends on the day, the weather, where I’m going. I don’t want to have just one style. I want to change constantly. I like to surprise the people around me.
Do you shop?
I buy a lot of things. [Laughs] Fashion has a lot of meaning in my life. If you wear nice things, you’re happy the whole day. It’s one of the most important things in my life because if I don’t care about fashion, it’s like I’m losing a part of my body.
So, looking good makes you happy.
Yes, it does. It makes me very happy.
You’ve retired from football and are now editor-at-large at Monocle. Tell us, what does an editor-at-large at Monocle do?
That’s a secret. [Laughs]
What have you been doing over the last one year?
I have been travelling a lot in Japan (since last year), to discover more about Japanese culture. It has already been one year but I am only halfway through and I want to finish it.
Why the sudden interest in Japan?
I’ve lived abroad for the last 10 years; I left Japan when I was very young and I didn’t know enough about my own country. When my friends asked me where to go, I didn’t know anything. I needed to find my roots and rediscover Japanese culture and traditions.
What are your plans for the future?
I never plan for the future. I live day by day, so I’m happy. That’s a big thing for me. I don’t care about tomorrow, the day after tomorrow. For me, today is important.