The athlete’s job is to increase the value of their jersey
Before the concept of the outdoors was even prevalent, Woolrich, America’s oldest outdoor brand, created the buffalo check for hunters. Soon enough, the checkered pattern became a staple, transcending its original use, and continues to be loved around the world to this day. This is the fifth installation of a series of interviews conducted with pioneers who lead their lives with a free and independent mind that mirrors the Woolrich pioneer spirit that proposed a new value within hunting wear. This time we chatted with Shota Horie who was a big part of the Japanese Rugby World Cup team that fired up Japan just last year. For a person who loves rugby and lives through the sport, we asked him about how the pioneer spirit he carries on in his activities.
―Today you’re in your everyday wear as opposed to your usual rugby uniform. What kind of clothes do you wear on a daily basis?
I like vintage clothing. I don’t really dress in the sporty type of clothing that’s trending nowadays. That’s why I love and own the buffalo check shirt myself. It goes well with vintage clothes. I just didn’t know what it was called so I used to call it the “thick check” shirt (laughs). I had no idea that Woolrich created the original buffalo check.
―What did you think of the buffalo check you wore today?
It was really warm. I feel like I’d be fine in the cold with just this one shirt. The size was also surprisingly perfect. I usually wear 3XL, but the hem tends to be too long and I often find myself struggling to find clothing that fits right. It’s pretty difficult to find something that fits as well as this.
―Woolrich is the oldest outdoor brand in the US. What kind of image do you have of America?
I’ve only been there on rugby campaigns, but based on my experience, I imagine it to be a free country. People aren’t shy to genuinely express themselves and if the content is good, it is admired. Definitely some strong personalities. The stadiums are also on a different scale. Some stadiums have gigantic screens, large buffets and really spacious bars. People drink there and enjoy the game. Everything felt grand and huge.
―Speaking of overseas, you were the first Japanese player to play in the international professional rugby, Super Rugby. What led you to choose to play overseas?
I had the opportunity to play in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but the results weren’t great. I couldn’t settle for that kind of play and realized that I needed to grow as a player, which led me to aim for Super Rugby. I figured that there was bound to be a positive effect on the Japanese rugby world if I were to play overseas.
―Is that because at the end of the day, you loved rugby?
That’s right. Nothing’s changed since, and my desire to grow as a player is still strong as it was then.
―The buffalo check was originally invented as hunting wear and therefore also works well as functional work wear. As a professional rugby athlete, I would imagine that your “work wear” is your jersey (uniform), but is there anything that you keep in mind when you wear it?
For me, the jersey can be anything as long as it’s functional. I’m not really looking for good design. I believe that is is the job of the player to increase the value of their jersey. Even if the jersey looks dull, I believe that as long as the team, players, and personalities are good, the kids watching will think, “Wow that is a cool jersey.” No matter how cool you look, if the team is weak, you won’t become popular.
―What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to play rugby, so I would love it if everyone continued to support and cheer me on. Especially because we weren’t able to play a single Top League match due to COVID-19. However, the season is slated to start next January so I would love for people to watch and enjoy the matches.
Vintage Buffalo Check Shirt
[Reference Item] by WOOLRICH
Shota Horie Born in 1986. Having played in three Rugby World Cups, he is a star rugby hooker who represents his home country of Japan. Having also been the first Japanese forward to play in the Super Rugby League, he has been an instrumental figure in opening a new path for development of the Japanese Rugby League. He is currently a member of the Panasonic Wild Knights. He is memorable for his dreadlocks. Stands 180cm tall and weighs in at 104kg.