Pre-hype sneaker designer turned ready-to-wear designer stocked at the likes of Joyce Hong Kong, emerging Japanese creative Mihara Yasuhiro sits down with us for a chat during his time in Hong Kong, where he served as the VIP judge at the 2019 Young Fashion Designer's Contest

Let's start from the beginning–how did you get into fashion?

Since childhood, I’ve always been interested in art, which is why I studied at the Tama Art University. In the beginning, I wasn’t planning on being a shoe or fashion designer, I was only interested in art. Then I tried to put art into something people can actually use, rather than just something to look at; something for people to wear or use everyday. I actually never learned how to make shoes from university or school, so my first shoe was a very interesting and very funny shaped sandal, more like a sock.

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How did your Puma collaboration come about?

At the beginning, we tried to approach different brands. For example, we tried to call Nike but at that time, Nike didn’t really want to work with fashion brands; they were more focused on the practical and high performance aspect. We also tried Adidas, but they referred us to the headquarters in Germany and long story short, the conversation never went anywhere. And then we called Puma and we hit it off straight away.

A lot of luxury brands are doing sneakers now. What do you think of this trend?

20 years ago, there wasn't a market for fashion and sneakers put together. There were either leather shoes or sneakers, but leather shoes were created more than 100 years ago and there hasn't been much of an evolution. Now, people don’t just use sneakers for sport, they're a part of their lifestyle. 

You then began to make ready-to-wear, and your designs often celebrate irregularity, why is that?

I like to use something that’s irregular and not symmetrical to break the balance of the clothes, especially for womenswear, to bring out the strength and edginess of a woman but also a different kind of beauty in its fragility. Sometimes violating the gravity of things makes it more interesting.

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You also like to use commonplace objects as details in your collections, where does that inspiration come from?

Sometimes the item that I pick isn't something I saw on my desk when I was working, but an item people see in their daily life without thinking it's special. For me, I like to use that to give it a new meaning—I use it to touch people emotionally.

I imagine designing shoes is quite different from designing clothes. In what ways do you have to think differently?

When designing shoes, the universe is more limited. Clothes, in contrast, include many items, and also involve a larger surface area. For me, too much freedom makes it a bit difficult to design. There are different kinds of designers, some prefer more freedom, but for me, I’m the type that likes to put some limitation or rules for myself and that’s how I can make a better creation.

Do you find that there's a commonality amongst Japanese designs?

I think that there are two types. Some Japanese think that they have to represent their nationality, and they will use some very traditional items like the kimono or temple motifs, but there is another type who don't like to bring out the traditional Japanese style.

I like to represent Japan, sometimes I even look like a tourist in Japan instead of a local Japanese; I just like to present Japan in fashion in a way that, say, Europeans can't think of.

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