Michiko Koshino has been a veteran of the menswear industry since moving to the UK in the 1980s. Along with the new wave of Japanese designers that have forever changed the London fashion scene, Michiko has offered up a new vision for menswear — one that is characterised by experimental silhouettes and a unique streetwear authenticity.
Hailed as the original club-kid, Michiko Koshino has dressed some of the most iconic names in the industry including the late great David Bowie. A pattern cutter by trade and with music subculture serving as the foundation of her aesthetic, Michiko Koshino has constantly been reinventing the menswear game throughout her 40 years in the London fashion scene — allowing us to fall in love with the subtlety of menswear each and every season.
How did you fall in love with menswear?
I love menswear and womenswear for different reasons. With womenswear, I love playing around with shapes and silhouettes. On the other hand, I find that menswear can often be more surprising, and even more mysterious, in comparison to womenswear.
You are hailed as the original Japanese club kid, even dressing the likes of the late-great David Bowie early on in your career. What were those early days like?
Different periods in time are great for different reasons. However, as a creative and a designer, that was definitely a fearless time. It was truly inspirational and exciting. It seemed like everybody was doing really interesting things, and access to them was incredibly organic.
Back in the early 80’s, you were one of the London menswear scene’s first pioneers, bringing a new vision along with the Japanese wave that took over Europe. In what ways do you think you have changed as a designer since then?
I will always fundamentally work as I have always done. I am a pattern cutter by trade and music has always been my biggest influence. However, I think I’ve developed to be more and more instinctive and to further trust my abilities as a creative.
How do the men in your life inspire your design aesthetic?
As I mentioned, music is a huge inspiration. The concept of uniforms has always been interesting to me. Even in the very early days, I’ve always thought that men and uniforms go hand-in-hand! This last season for example, was heavily inspired by the Japanese baseball teams of the 50’s.
What is it like being a female menswear designer? How do you think being a woman influences your outlook into the menswear fashion industry?
I’ve always done both — however, I’m able to look at things more subjectively than if I were a man. I’m not clouded by the thoughts of what I would look like in the pieces because it isn’t for me.
How could you say the menswear scene has changed since you first launched your eponymous brand?
It has become a booming business — which is great. When I started, menswear very much piggy-backed onto the women’s collections, whereas now it is its own beast.
In what ways do you think women like yourself are making waves in menswear?
There are a lot of young women coming into the industry and choosing menswear over womenswear. They choose menswear for the right reasons, and because it interests them. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a time where we are able to do what we want, and to do it creatively.
Words: Hannah Tan