Jul 03, 2018 | By Erin Rechner
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May 18, 2017
Owa Yurika is a directional childrenswear brand that’s attempting to bridge the gap between a contemporary Japanese design aesthetic and a London city look. Aimed at girls aged 4-to-12-years-old, the brand is currently stocked in prestigious stores including Barneys NYC, Harvey Nichols London, Kids 21 Singapore and Boon, Korea as well as owayurika.com.
The brand is moving from strength to strength so I caught up with founder Yuki Oshima to find out a little more about the brand and why the luxury stores are picking it up.
Q: Prior to this, you were a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar Japan and worked within the communications department at LVMH. What has driven you to choose childrenswear as a platform for your creativity and what have been your biggest challenges so far? And what do you foresee as challenges in the future?
Yuki Oshima: My mother is a colourist and from an early age she introduced me to fashion forward brands and taught me how to appreciate the finer details in things. I have always had an eye for design and when my daughter was born I noticed a gap in the market for more design conscious childrenswear. I felt confident that I could create a new perspective for childrenswear with OWA YURIKA.
So far my biggest challenge has been managing the fast-paced fashion seasons; finding the time to manage them all while balancing the creative process, pushing boundaries and giving every part of the process (both creative and commercial) the attention it deserves. I love the energy and pace they provide but it does mean I can be working on 3 seasons at any one time, which includes early morning calls with the factories in Asia, daytime planning with my design and production team in the UK and evening calls with distributors in the US. You always have to be one step ahead of the game – it’s a challenge but one that keeps you on your toes.
In terms of future challenges it will be about how we continue to push the brand globally and manage the commitments that are required to build an international brand. This, together with growing the size of the collections while still being involved as an ever-present mother will probably provide quite enough challenges!
Q: With your Japanese design aesthetic, high-quality manufacturing techniques and meticulous attention to detail, are there specific regions that favour your signature looks? Also, how would you describe your customer and how do you manage to find one another?
Yuki Oshima: At first it was suggested that the brand would particularly appeal in specific territories such as Scandinavia and to a certain type of audience. What we have been pleasantly surprised to learn is that the brand has been particularly well received within the wider territories such as the Middle East, Russia and Mainland China and subsequently has a broader target audience than we initially thought it would.
Q:When you begin your season, what elements of the design process drive you forward [themes, colour, fabric, silhouette etc. etc.]
Yuki Oshima: The first step in the process will always be to capture an overall theme. Key themes to date have focused on the feeling of security, flexibility and independence. Once we have this, everything then stems from this. The second stage would be choosing the colour palette.
The colour palette is integral to the OWA YURIKA design philosophy and so finding the right colour palette that links in with the overall theme is essential to driving the design process forward. The final stage is choosing the fabric; we make clothes to last so that is always a key criteria in choosing fabric. During every stage of the process we will continually be thinking about what our customers like and key selling styles from each season. Combining all these elements is what drives the design process for us.
Q: Do you visit trade shows? If so, which ones and for what reason ?
Yuki Oshima:Yes, we visit all the main Trade Fairs i.e. Pitti Bimbo, Playtime Paris, NY and Tokyo and Children’s Club in NY.
Q: Which children’s brands do you feel are doing great things at the moment?
Yuki Oshima: There are a lot of children’s brands doing really interesting things at the moment. I particularly like Makie, Leoca, No21, Stella McCartney’s Kids and Blossom by Roksanda Illincic. Also Acne Studio for their cool basics.
Q: There have been lots of discussion about a renaissance in the childrenswear market especially the luxury sector, would you agree? If so why, have you seen evidence of this?
Yuki Oshima: Yes I completely agree. Many of the big brands are doing childrenswear and they are putting a lot of time and effort into focusing on their childrenswear divisions going forward.These are exciting times ahead as brands are becoming more aware that parents and grandparents want different things. The movement now is for a modern aesthetic combined with high end quality.
Q: Finally, what are your plans/dreams and aspirations for future seasons?
Yuki Oshima: Our plan going forward is to move into babywear, boyswear along with accessories, shoes and active wear.
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