“I think multiculturalism feeds into the wide range of styles that are seen on the streets.” - Misaki Oba, Designer.
Sydney-based, Japanese designer Misaki Oba was working part-time and collaborating with stylists and photographers when she found out she was selected as a finalist for the iD International Emerging Designer Awards 2018 to be held in Dunedin this coming May.
Her label HYPER-REAL will be on show at the event with a fun concoction of bold holographic prints inspired by futuristic films and technology, with 90s poster imagery and the energy of electronic music feeding into the design process. The result: a quirky, glam take on a what the designer refers to as ‘commercial street wear'.
A graduate of the University of Technology (Sydney), Oba's aesthetic draws from her Japanese heritage. She's inspired by designers Issey Miyake, and Morinaga Kunihiko from Anrealage, but also ‘the craziness of Tokyo fashion’ with the eclectic street style featured in Shoichi Aoki’s now defunct Tokyo-centric FRUiTS Magazine.
But despite the explosion of colour in her creations the designer admits to leading a minimalist lifestyle, which is also reflected in her wardrobe. She supports the Fashion Revolution - the largest fashion activist movement raising awareness for a positive change in the fashion industry. And sustainability is at the forefront of both her consumer and designer ethos.
“It makes me happy knowing I am doing good for my mind and the environment. Minimal designs [also] retain longevity and are less prone to pressure for a wardrobe update,” she says.
But although environmental issues are a major concern for those involved in the industry there are other competing factors that play against emerging designers in a sink-or-swim landscape.
Social media has been a game changer for many fashion brands. Instagram, in particular, has been a space for new labels and talent to share their work and grow an audience. But recent changes to the platform means that high profile influencers get a boost in exposure, while those with fewer followers get lost in the mix, no longer making an appearance in the main feed. This is problematic for up-and-coming talent like Oba.
“Social media is obsessive and all-consuming, but it is definitely effective right now [and] I think being adaptable to these changes is what is important,” she says.
Oba believes the changes in how Instagram operates will force people to rethink their strategies for posting images. They may also look for alternatives in order to reach more viewers.
There are many hurdles to cross for designers entering the fashion industry today. Yes, having talent is essential, but exposure is everything. And that exposure can also leave designers open to criticism in a business that comes with an increasing list of demands, including the pressure to continue pushing creative boundaries in a process that can feel very personal.
"Being criticised for your work can be a great learning process, but it’s also hard to face because you’re constantly being judged,” says Oba.
The 23-year old designer is traveling to New Zealand in May for iD Fashion Week and is looking forward to experiencing a new culture, along with the opportunity to meet other young designers and people involved in the industry.
"I think its an incredible opportunity for all of us [and] I am so grateful for iD for giving me this opportunity," she says.
To buy tickets to the emerging designer show head to https://www.idfashion.co.nz