The son of an artist mother, Mihara Yasuhiro is an iconoclast with a rather abstract view of fashion tempered with an acute social awareness and disdain for narrow stereotypes — a design approach he sums up perfectly in the formula “what you see is never what you get.” Born in Fukuoka in 1972, Yasuhiro started pretty early: he had his own footwear line, Archi Doom, while still a student at Tama Art University, and opened the first Miharayasuhiro shop in Aoyama, Tokyo, in 1998. Since then he’s been a fixture in the edgy circles of Japanese fashion with both his eponymous line for men and women and the Puma Mihara footwear collection developed in partnership with the athletic shoe giant. Yasuhiro, who works in a conceptual vein and is technically skillful, has been part of the Milan menswear calendar for three seasons. His debut collection — slightly military with an odd mixture of formality and casualness — caught attention, as did its follow-up, a punkish array of tailored suits held together with giant metal staples in place of stitches. Hitting another home run this past June, Mihara’s s/s 06 effort is an ode to individuality and optimism with a strain of ingénue futurism and space cowboy details. The guy has got plenty of talent and vision to boot: we are eager to learn more about this maverick designer.
JCR: What drove you to fashion in the first place and what kind of expressive possibilities do you find in it?
MY: At first, I was not longing to work in fashion. I think I became involved as a result of creating and making shoes. Fashion offers so many possibilities, the main being, in my opinion, “expansiveness of fetishism.”
JCR: What’s your working method?
MY: Definitely experimental.
MY: Sublime meets ridiculous.
JCR: What, or who, inspires you?
MY: It’s honestly difficult to pinpoint one single inspiration. Whatever I think of during each and every day somehow relates to my work.
JCR: Are you interested in hybridity? The split shoes in the last collection, those jean jackets with peak lapels, and many other recent and not-so-recent pieces do certainly look like hybrids. It’s as if you try to merge different references: tailoring, uniforms, etc. Do you agree with this reading?
MY: Yes, I do. I like to work with stereotypes belonging to different groups or categories. I believe people will discover new things when stereotypes become unstable.
JCR: When and why did you develop the collaborative collection with Puma, and how is it working for them? What are the differences and similarities between the Miharayasuhiro and the Puma Mihara collections?
MY: I started working with Puma six years ago, in 1999. I was eager to study sneakers and I believe it was a necessary step for me in my pursuit of a global knowledge of shoemaking. If you work on sneakers, it’s mandatory to understand technique and theory alike. Puma answered my request at the end of 20th century. My own line and the one for them are totally different, in terms of both purpose and achievement.
JCR: Do you prefer menswear or womenswear? And do you design menswear for yourself?
MY: I honestly like both: they derive from different thinking points, and both teach me a lot of things. Of course I design menswear for myself.
JCR: So what do you personally wear?
MY: I wear what seems normal to me, but other people may find a little bit weird.
JCR: What’s the inspiration behind the s/s ’06 collection?
MY: The inspiration is “people’s blind expectation when humans are about to land on the moon.” Shapes and details in the collection are inspired by American mass production in the ’50s and ’60s, which means something kind of cheap.
JCR: Can you please tell us something about the narrative subtext that accompanies your collections? Does this happen at an early stage, i.e., when design starts, or later, before the presentation? In any case, these stories are always very touching, and the same goes for the shows.
MY: One day I found a story on Apollo 11, with pictures; the article had been written in 1969. At that time, people had great, hopeful expectations for the future. I like that atmosphere: it was strong and almost blind in its lightness. At the beginning of this year, I felt desperate for no particular reason; I was thinking a lot about the current events and the future. There are so many problems and troubles in the world. Even though as humans we are naturally accustomed to face problems, I felt really desperate. I kept repeating one phrase in my mind, “No plan to go but still I leave.” This phrase was the result of many different emotions. It’s difficult to express how I feel. Is the world where we live now the result of what human beings have dreamt? Or the world now is hopeless?
JCR: The titles of your collections, “Sublime meets Ridiculous” and “No Plan to Leave,” always go straight to the point. How do you come up with them?
MY: I was taught that things have many facets. Shakespeare said that “Nothing is good or evil.” Human beings always search for the same things, no matter what era they live in. Whenever I try to express something, I keep pursuing totally different goals, and by acting like this, I control myself.
JCR: The casting in your shows is really outstanding. Do you cast models by yourself, or do you have someone doing that for you? What kind of guys do you go for, and why?
MY: I choose models by myself. For the s/s ’06 collection, I wanted guys of impressive individuality. I like people who are natural; show-off types are not my kind.
JCR: What do you think of fashion’s current focus on menswear?
MY: I think it’s a good thing. I mean, this will translate into new technical achievements, hopefully.
JCR: What has caught your attention lately?
MY: An effecter (often used with electric guitars). It’s a very experimental machine, and I like it.
This interview was conducted by Angelo Flaccavento.
Mihara Yasuhiro s/s ’06
Mihara Yasuhiro a/w ’05-’06
Puma by Mihara Yasuhiro
5-6 Mihara Yasuhiro s/s ’06
Puma by Mihara Yasuhiro
8-10 Mihara Yasuhiro s/s ’06