It-girl Kiko Mizuhara and her sister Yuka spread some happiness and retro-hip with their newly launched, highly collaborative clothing label
When you’re having a stressful day and you look up at the sky, you chill out and feel better. So for this very positive feeling and effect, I wanted the sky and also the idea of the rainbows — a sort of cute, happy element, with lots of flowers, butterflies, fruits and more. So designing wasn’t that hard. I went through all the old Japanese magazines from the ’90s and had a feeling about the patterns we wanted to go for.”
The collection is also very affordable. “I know that many of my fans are young — say 12, 14, 16 or older — and they think because I’m in highfashion, it will be expensive. But it’s not,” she says. I.T boss Sham Karwai, who last week was celebrating I.T’s 30th anniversary celebrations in Hong Kong, says that as long as Mizuhara continues to make interesting projects happen, the retailer will be happy to sell OK on a permanent basis. Part of Mizuhara’s crossover appeal is that she spends half of her life having couture imposed upon her — and knows all too well the rigors of wearing it, making her entirely relatable to her fans.
So what about the rigors of wearing a traditional Japanese yukata, something Mizuhara included in her OK collection. What’s her style advice to a bunch of young Chinese girls who’ve never tried the idea before? “Well, two ways,” she explains. “It’s a whole set with three must-have items: the geta sandals, the obi (sash) — which is like a corset — and the yukata. So first, buy the whole set and wear it once. It’s nice to try it once if you haven’t. Otherwise, you should do it traditional, but mix it with accessories. So wear the obi and yukata with heels, or try off-shoulder and put a flip-dress underneath. You can do whatever you want!”
A tagline that reads like Mizuhara’s mantra. The sisters have created an accompanying book that involves their Tokyo friends. “We wanted to make the book very special and artsy, with the art and visuals being very creative,” says Mizuhara. “So we used (Tokyo photographer) Monika Mogi; she’s my best friend and so talented.”
All of which gives OK a collective sense. “I think OK is like a platform for girls to have a feeling of belonging and friendship, and I feel like we didn’t really have that feeling in Asia yet; it’s a sort of girl-power feeling to the brand,” says Mizuhara. With openings in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, OK is launching in Indonesia and Thailand soon. “So far, it’s been amazing to see all of these girls enjoying our products and just being themselves.”
Mizuhara grew up in pre-Instagram times reading magazines and being seduced by the lifestyle of what she saw. “I was inspired by all the models,” she says. “They were living a different life and that’s what I’m trying to do now.”
Mizuhara has since launched a collaboration with iconic Japanese shoe brand Esperanza. “It was super big in the late 1990s and early 2000’s in Japan,” she says, noting the tendency for Japanese girls to wear big heels at that time. “It was really important for fashion history in Japan but I think that whole movement was not appreciated,” she says, “therefore I wanted to feature that and give it more provenance.” It’s also her way of encouraging young Tokyo girls to get more experimental and confident in the way they dress. “So I’m doing this big collaboration with Esperanza. And the girls in the campaign have that ghetto spirit. There aren’t many girls today who are really confident in their look, they have low self-esteem and confidence. And I feel that’s really sad. I want them to be bolder and more confident.”
Meantime, the exuberantly confident Mizuhara is in discussions with Opening Ceremony in America about a project. “They want to do something in Los Angeles,” she says. The New York outlet already carries some of her OK products. The multifaceted and much-in-demand iconista also mentions upcoming projects with a transgender artist in Thailand, a potential photo exhibition and a book with sister Yuka — they’re midway through recording a new album together — and even a project with Japanese multimedia artist Mariko Mori. From It-girl to infinity, the only thing stopping Mizuhara’s ambition is her agony of choices. “I don’t know exactly what OK will be or become, like an events platform or a lifestyle brand or a party venue, but I’m trying to connect all of the pieces in my head. But sometimes it can be really hard to connect those ideas. The sky’s the limit.” Meantime, there’s a bunch of wearable happiness waiting to come and for wouldbe Mizuhara’s the hits will keep coming. And that’s A-OK with us.
Mizuhara’s own label, OK, in collaboration with a pop-up store at I.T Blue Block in Causeway, Hong Kong.
Kiko Mizuhara (middle)