Hakuyo Miya is a Founder & Lead Fashion Designer. He was born in Tokyo and after studying in Japan he moved to Paris where in 2016 started his own sustainable brand. When I saw his collection for the first time at Paris Fashion Week, I directly noticed and was impressed by the amazing combination of volumes, unusual cut, crazy combination of colours and textures.
FabUK Magazine had the chance to visit Hakuyo Miya at his showroom in Paris and ask him a few questions.
- Can you in few words describe your brand?
My name is Hakuyo Miya. I am originally from Tokyo but I moved to Paris fourteen years ago. I started my own brand in 2016. Since then I have been creating women’s ready-to-wear in my small workshop in Paris.
I love creating delicate pieces, playing with light and transparency through the use of lace and very fine materials. I suppose my work displays a lot of fantasy elements. I usually work with bold fabrics with interesting textures, mixing patterns and colours in unexpected ways.
- What is your favourite part about being a designer?
I love being a designer because it allows me to express each and every idea that pops in my mind entirely by myself. I find it a great privilege to have my own workshop here in Paris.
It has become my playground where I can try new techniques, study my past creations to make them better and become a better designer. It feeds my inspiration and I always find ideas for new pieces.
- Where do you get your inspiration from?
Coming from Tokyo, I know that Japanese culture and my family heritage have a great deal of influence on my work and on my general view of design.
My father is a photographer and has been spending his life between Japan and Romania for the last 50 years. He speaks Romanian and the stories he told me always moved me. I take a lot of inspiration from the pictures he takes in Eastern Europe. I really love the rich folklore, the traditional dresses, the colorful fabrics, the intricate patterns.
My mother works as a Russian-Japanese interpreter. She also always had told me many entertaining stories. So in a way I try to connect Eastern European culture with Japanese fashion.
Since I moved to France I fell in love with French culture and lifestyle. I really like Paris, especially the more popular neighborhoods of the North-East side where I live. I think my living here has a growing influence on both myself and my work. I am also a huge fan of music, it is a great source of inspiration.
I used to go to two concerts a week when it was still allowed… In terms of other fashion designers, I have always admired the work of Christian Lacroix and Alexander McQueen. The more I study their work and the more they impress me. I love their boldness, the femininity of their pieces, their ingenuity and their sense of spectacle.
- Can you tell us something about your background?
I was born in Tokyo in 1983 and grew up in the neighborhood of Suginami-ku, Nishiogikubo. As my parents spent a long time abroad for work I came to spend a lot of time with my grandmother. She was an exceptional woman. In fact, she was one of the first women elected public officials in the country!
After a high school I went to the university to study business, like many young adults in Japan, dreaming of a successful career.
I graduated but hated the work and lifestyle. Then I decided to change my life completely and fourteen years ago I moved to France. I first went to the lovely town of Toulouse to learn French. Then I moved to Paris and studied fashion design for three years at the Atelier Chardon Savard. During my time there I notably showcased a collection in a fashion show in Morocco.
After graduation I worked several years in the fashion industry as a stylist and dressmaker, mostly in Paris but also in Tokyo and Moscow, before creating my own brand in 2016. Since then I have participated in Vancouver Fashion Week, three seasons at New York Fashion Week and I organized a fashion show in Paris in November 2019.
- How important is for you to go with the trends or you prefer to create your own?
I don’t especially like or care for trends, although I always try to be aware of them. I don’t know that I can create a trend of my own, even though it must be rewarding in a way. I think trends have a negative impact on people. It works against their free will. I mostly work to make people more confident so they can wear clothes that truly reflect their taste and personality. I miss Tokyo for this matter, because Japanese people, especially young people, are really more creative than French people in terms of clothes. Parisian wardrobes are quite classic, sometimes even boring, although there is a sense of elegance here that I truly respect…
- When and why did you make a decision to become a sustainable brand?
My own political beliefs and ethics are not compatible with the way the fashion industry is working today. It is the second greatest polluter in the world, a real threat to the environment and the work conditions in the industry are globally awful.
I was deeply shocked by the 2013 Dhaka factory collapse in Bangladesh. I recommend everyone to watch the movie The True Cost. It explains the many flaws of the industry in a very clear manner.
As for my brand, I do everything myself and work with local craftsmen and women. I use more and more sustainable fabrics. However, it is not always possible to find small yardage of organic locally-made fabrics, and it is always costly. It is also hard for us to keep stock. Recycling and upcycling are the easiest and we tend to do it more and more. But overall, we have found that there is no easy path for small independent and sustainable brands, it is a constant fight.
Hopefully, a lot of small brands today are clearing new ways towards sustainability and business ethics, redefining how we consider fashion.
- What is fashion for you?
I consider fashion as art. It is a way of expressing deeply personal and complex ideas. If you look at fashion through the ages, it tells a lot about the way of life and the culture of the people wearing the clothes.
I think people should express their true selves through fashion, always be comfortable in them, wear beautiful garments that would rejoice our cities, public and workplaces.
- How is working in fashion different today than from when you started out?
The flaws of the industry and its negative impact on the environment and on our lives has been made more and more visible. Big brands have become bigger than ever before and they alone choose the directions of the industry.
Every time a young original brand emerges, they do everything they can to buy it, so nothing changes. However, I think people are disgusted by the fast fashion industry and want more personal and ethical brands. They want to feel connected to the designers and their work. They want to wear more unique clothes. They want more transparency, to know the people who made their clothes, where the fabrics came from.
I am happy to see a big return of second hand clothes, because it is unbelievable how many clothes are produced when so many are sent to trash every year.
- What skills are necessary for a successful fashion designer? I wish I knew! I personally believe every fashion designer should be a good technician as well, a good dressmaker. When you design clothes, it is essential to know the craft, the cuts, the sewing techniques, how to create volume, how certain fabrics fall and react to movement. A good knowledge of art, history of fashion and current trends is also important.
- What advice can you give to the newcomer designers?
When starting a brand, I would advise people to start small. Start with a small limited collection and test it out in the world. Stay local in the beginning, try to get the attention of people in your area. Don’t try to do the big shows and trade fairs. They are usually very costly and bring little exposure. Don’t spend too much time and money on advertising, try to stimulate word-of-mouth, build a strong brand image, focused on yourself and your work.
In general, keep your money for projects that will grow your brand and yourself as a designer. I mean, the world has changed, it is not the 90’s anymore, and I think it is a good thing!
With the internet and social media we have all the tools we need to learn from others and showcase our work. Don’t hesitate to talk with other designers, ask questions and discuss how they managed to overcome obstacles and difficulties. Feed your passion. If you don’t like how things are going, change them. Don’t try to replicate things that don’t resonate with who you are. Well, these are the kind of words I would have liked to hear when I started.
You can find “Hakuyo Miya” on Instagram: @hakuyomiya & on Web: www.hakuyomiya.com
Interviewed and photographed by Christina V Henningstad
Model: Yulia Colussi
Makeup: Serguei Chatel