UNITY IN DISPARITY
Oakley’s collaboration with Meguru Yamaguchi highlights the beauty of craft and teamwork
THE ORIGINAL PLAN was to launch the Oakley x Meguru Yamaguchi collaborative collection in tandem with the Tokyo Olympics, which would have happened in this summer if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Titled Kokoro, which means ‘’heart”, “mind” and “spirit” in Japanese, it was meant to echo the ethos of sportsmanship. But all is not lost. Brooklynbased Japanese artist Yamaguchi’s dynamic abstract work for Oakley, created using his signature ‘cut and paste’ method, still shines as a beacon of hope for humanity in these challenging times.
Classic Oakley styles get the Meguru treatment through a completely unique process created specially for the production of the collection. The dynamic swirls of colour you see on the pieces are created by dripping paint on frames, which are mounted on a spinning apparatus. The unpredictable way the paint interacts creates one-of-a-kind designs that speak about how disparate elements can come together to form a collective identity of shared passions, communal support and resilience.
Meguru Yamaguchi tells us about this collaboration with Oakley, and about the inspirations behind Kokoro.
Tell us about your inspiration behind the Kokoro collection?
During this pandemic, the connection between people became more important than ever. The collection is meant to unify everyone in the name of sports. Embodying the brilliance and beauty of humanity, the collection aims to inspire a sense of belonging and community in a time when the need to do so has never been greater.
We understand that the collection was initially timed to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, which has been postponed due to the current pandemic we are in. Nonetheless, how do you feel having your creation showcased as pa of this great time in history, especially representing Japan where you are from?
I feel proud. It’s such a unique time in history with a lot of uncertainty. If my collection with Oakley can help bring joy to people, inspire connection between them and sport, and bring some sense of normalcy, I will be thrilled.
Can you tell us more about the special technology behind the collection and your motivation for creating these one-of-a-kind pieces?
This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration that I’ve never done before. Each piece is different and unique, and each stroke resembles a different part of artistry. We used a specialised spinning technique that requires a custommade machine. Oakley’s engineers created this to replicate my style of brushstrokes. I am overjoyed to see this artistry translated onto Oakley eyewear. I see every frame as a piece of art. The collection is available in 10 eyewear styles, as well as a motocross goggle.
All pieces from the collection come equipped with Oakley’s Prizm lens technology, designed to enhance how colour and contrast are perceived to help athletes perform better.
You have an impressive resumé across different genres, from urban murals to skateboard sculptures and streetwear collaborations. How does Oakley resonate with you, and what made this collaboration special?
I met with Oakley’s designers, engineers and Team Oakley athletes during a trip to the Oakley HQ in California. On that trip I was immersed in the world of Oakley and was exposed to the unifying qualities of sport, which really inspired me to design the artwork for this collection. I was moved by everyone’s united passion for sport. Designing a collection that was emblematic of this unity was core to my process and something that I look for in all my partnerships in the future.
What was the most memorable takeaway from this pa nership?
The most memorable part of this collaboration was meeting the Oakley visionaries, including staff that were former athletes competing at an Olympic level, who now work for the brand at its HQ. I was in awe of the way they spoke about their passions as athletes and how they continue to bring that same passion to the brand. The entire staff welcomed me with open arms and fostered a positive working environment, which has resonated with me from day one up until the launch. As I am used to working as an individual, I am very thankful to have been part of the Oakley family. It helped me grow as an individual and as an artist.
What can we expect to see next from Meguru Yamaguchi?
I don’t want to give too much away, but my time with Oakley isn’t over. We’re working on a special collection for summer 2021 that will include apparel and eyewear.
“I AM VERY THANKFUL TO HAVE BEEN PART OF THE OAKLEY FAMILY. IT HELPED ME GROW AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND AS AN ARTIST”