Q & A with Mihara in Beijing

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The last time we spoke with avante garde fashion designer Mihara Yasuhiro was in 2010 when he celebrated a decade of creative collaboration with PUMA. This year, we caught up with him in Beijing as he presented a sneak preview of the PUMA by MIHARAYASUHIRO Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, his homage on urban "Bike City" Tokyo.

PUMA: Your partnership with PUMA has spanned more than a decade with sneaker collectors and fashionistas eagerly anticipating the unique designs season after season. How do you feel about the collection being successful and having created a cult following?
MY: Regarding PUMA by MIHARA YASUHIRO, in the past, most of the people only know about PUMA as the famous brand for both sports and fashion product, but there are not so many people who know about the collaboration between PUMA and MIHARA YASUHIRO. In recent days, as the people such as the sneaker collectors, fashionistas in the world started accepting the mutual collaboration, then it became very successful. PUMA is a well-known sports brand in the world and MIHARA YASUHIRA was identified as avant-garde Japanese fashion designer. Through the collaboration, the energy from MIHARA YASUHIRO’s design was spread all over and it also served as a driving force for consumers.

PUMA: Some designers visit foreign places or look at different cultures when they want to be inspired. How about you, where do you look for inspiration? What's your creative process like when designing for the next collection?
MY: In fact, I am a kind of person who is easily influenced mentally and physically. To me, inspiration comes into your mind suddenly. On the one hand, we have learned so many different things from the past, from history. On the other hand, we are living in the present. These two things lead us to contradiction. However, we have to move our mind to reconsider and to create design elements through finding out something new. Some designers may think that inspiration is a gift from the god, and sometimes they distressed themselves. But, I think we should always keep positive to be inspired.

PUMA: Could you tell us which places that inspires you most?
Of course Tokyo! Then there’s London, Hong Kong, New York, Singapore, Milan, Paris. I like Milan because of the old buildings and architecture. I like Paris because of its culture. Being from foreign country, I see these difference when I visit these places.

PUMA: What are the 3 most important things you consider when you design for PUMA?
Most important is PUMA’s history and origins. Secondly, I think of a pure idea. There’s 12 years worth of design and the challenge is to make something unique everytime. Something that we’ve never done. Lastly, it’s creative aspect. They give me the creative freedom in designing for apparel and accessories. For footwear however, I need to adhere to specific guidelines because we have to keep in mind the shape of the shoes.

PUMA: For AW12, your collection was inspired by urban "bike city" Tokyo but incorporated python print. Sounds like an unlikely pairing but it worked quite well. How did you come up with such unexpected design elements?
Tokyo is a concrete city with cycling all over in the city. The riders in Tokyo are fashionable. They prefer fashionable sport wear with colors and many of them even wear leather shoes for sports. I used python print because the print makes this fashionable group feel exclusive – it sets people apart from the rest. Python print is considered as an image of people who recognize clothing as their common language. Another important point is “comfort”. In the past, people consider physical comfort very important. But these days, people think both physical and mental comfort is important. They could be satisfied by the good balance between function and fashion.

PUMA: You continued to use an iconic PUMA sneaker in your AW12 collection - the Disc Blaze. Why did you decide to carry this over? How special is this shoe to you?
I decided to use the Disc Blaze sneaker for A/W12 collection because it’s great for cycling and can provide easier movement for the wearer due to the special functions such as holding socks and the disc that adjusts the fitness.

PUMA: You're known for merging functionality and design in your collections. The A/W12 collection boasts of outdoorsy functionality using reflective material and offers packable functions yet the pieces are tastefully tailored and very stylish like it's taken off Milan fashion week runway. How do you strike a balance?
Through function with new technology and fashion using reflective materials, we can foresee the future of trends in design. There is more freedom in doing fashion. In the past, sneakers are used for some certain sports like soccer or basketball players. But now sneakers are designed for peoples‘ daily life such as comfort for walking or some daily sports. New technology brings new value, expands the category, and improves satisfaction.

PUMA: Lastly, how’s your monster figure collection going?
I am still collecting! I can’t help it. Whenever I come across one, I want to take it home. I like the monster characters in the movies specially. I like the story because it is popular and the figure is so funny. Someone may say the monster is the enemy. Yes, monster is the enemy for human beings, but it is created using humans as models.


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