Text Natasha Foo
Here at JUICE, we’re flawed people, and besides fuzzy miniature animals, sneakers may be just one of our many other downfalls. So when the good people of PUMA extended an invitation to us to meet with acclaimed designer Mihara Yasuhiro in Beijing to chat about all things PUMA, how could we possibly resist? Read on as we wax lyrical about the sportswear trend that’s been infiltrating runways, and about rubbing shoulders with musicians in the afterlife? You bet.
Hey Mihara, what would you say your design philosophy is?
I always have two different ideas for one design, and they often are two completely different things, which I will put together into the creation of a single design.
So you’re a fan of keeping it concise. We like that. What about your background, to what extent does it influence your work?
I was influenced by my family. Besides that, I also was affected by conceptual art, for example the works of Marcel Duchamp, one of the French artists I have been greatly influenced by.
What did you experiment with in your latest collaboration with PUMA that you hadn’t worked with before?
This time, I took a very simple approach: jazz music. Before, I drew influences from cultural scenes, mixed with horror movie references and music. But this time, because of the London Olympics this year, I used elements of the Union Jack in my designs. I also am very influenced by punk music, as seen through the leopard prints, and some other traditional elements like stripes throughout the collection.
Besides punk music, what kind of music would we find playing in your studio if we were to pop by unannounced?
Rock music, I’m sure, as you know, we have Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. Also, my wife used to be a jazz pianist, and she’d attend jazz festivals around the world, for example in America, Europe and of course throughout Asia. Sometimes we attend them together. I like that I get to see many different rock musicians, whom I respect a lot. Sometimes I even get to go backstage and drink with them.
I believe that when we go to heaven, ordinary people and musicians will drink and talk together. Whether or not they were famous in life, or if they were famous artists or musicians who may have passed away very early in their lives, everyone will jam together.
Back to the collection, briefly describe it and what it means to you.
For myself, I get my inspiration from others. I had the experience of growing up in the UK, with its music, and leather jackets. I was very young when I was influenced by punk music. When I was in high school, I would wear my leather jackets all the time. In my AW12 collection with PUMA, I incorporated military coats from the ‘60s and ‘70s into my designs. I was influenced by many different British elements, and I put them together, while also using the technology of sportswear.
How do you manage to constantly keep your designs innovative?
I get my hints from daily life, and I think about the different components of each design. Once I match them to each other, that’s when I get the designs. There are many small elements that go into doing this, and I put them together, much like a puzzle, and that’s when I am left with the complete picture. Sometimes, I think of things that are very new, and different for me. And now, since 2000, people have been looking for new styles. For example, in hip hop music, they sample older music. They just keep going back to the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the ‘80s and up to the ‘90s. But since then, you can’t find any new elements after 2000.
Certainly, I get brand new ideas and concepts, and people see them as completely different items. For example, we’ve designed many sneakers and jackets, but we always strive to produce brand new concepts for the designs. This may be quite difficult nowadays. If we travel into space, maybe we’ll be able to discover new styles. But it’s difficult as of now, to discover brand new things.
Cool. Space travel, we’re anxiously awaiting that day as well. Describe the Mihara Yasuhiro aesthetic in 3 words.
Poetic, reality, and avant garde.