INTERVIEW WITH JUN MIKAMI
A brand that originated from hand-knitted designs.
We interview the designer Jun Mikami and take a look at her latest collection.
The womenswear brand JUN MIKAMI has amassed a loyal fanbase since its inception in 2012. Originally focussing on hand-knitted designs, and with several books published on this topic along the way, the brand developed to include a complete lineup of contemporary, sophisticated womenswear with a distinctive edge.
It comes as no surprise then, that the woman behind the brand, Jun Mikami herself, is rumored to possess a fantastic sense of style. Where does she draw influence and how does she come up with her ideas? We speak with Jun about her roots and her brand, and take a small glimpse into her world.
What made you decide to study at Bunka Fashion College? Why did you choose textiles?
Actually, I quit Bunka after six months... and I went on to study textiles for three years at Otsuka Textile Design College after. I liked clothes, but I had always liked drawing since I was a child (although I’m not very good at it), so I thought that textiles might be a good combination of clothes and drawing.
Your brand originated from hand-knitted items. What are your feelings on knitwear?
When I started JUN MIKAMI, I could only afford to make everything by hand. I knitted all the samples myself, and I even hand-dyed the yarns at home, which is amazing now I think about it. I have fond memories of that. I’m sure that those experiences have shaped the designer I am today.
These days, hand-knitted items don’t appear every season but it’s not because I have lost interest, it’s honestly just a lack of time. Developing ideas and producing hand-knitted items is inevitably extremely time-consuming. I’d like to keep working on it for a few years so I can create and present something that feels just right.
Hand-knit body suit WIP.
The pleated collar and mini-length designs are particularly striking in your AW22 collection. What was your thought process behind this collection?
The pleated collar shirt appeared before in 2018 and was a favorite item at the time, but I wanted a cleaner version so I decided to reintroduce it in a simpler design for this collection.
As for the mini-length, it’s mainly a reaction to the trend towards longer-length skirts and dresses these last few years. I myself am well over 40 years old now, so I do ask myself “can I wear a mini skirt?” but I think there are age-appropriate ways of wearing certain items, and exploring what works is part of the joy in creating clothes.
Another important aspect for me is the fabrics. I have only recently been able to start producing my own original fabrics, which has been a huge step forward for the brand and for me personally.
I feel more joy and satisfaction in making things now. Not that I was bored before (laughs). There is so much to be gained from working and communicating with the specialists we work with. Especially with fabrics, there is so much possibility, so I look forward to continuing my exploration in that field.
You say you work at home a lot, how do you switch off?
I don’t think I do switch off much, actually. I’ll be working at my desk while dinner is on the stove (laughs).
I spend my time switching between work and household chores to change the pace at home.
“My usual workspace at home.”
“The small window brings a beautiful natural light in the mornings.”
“I was so grateful for the large roof balcony during the Covid pandemic.”
You mentioned on Instagram that you are a big fan of the model Stella Tennant. Who else are you inspired by?
There’s another model who was active in the ‘90s at the same time of Stella, called Anna K. She often wore men’s pants and a pair of New Balance, which I loved and which really influenced my personal style.
We at COVERCHORD love your style. What are your favorite things to wear right now?
Menswear-style pants and sneakers are my go-to, and I don’t think that will ever change. On the other hand, I switch up the sneakers I wear quite regularly, depending on the current trends and my mood.
My theory is that sneakers use the latest technology, so I can’t help but want to try out new pairs.
Clockwise from top left.
1) MIZUNO_ I bought these around two years ago and have got quite a lot of use out of them. This was the pair that made me start paying attention to Japanese sneaker brands.
2) New Balance_ I bought these just a couple of days ago. I hadn’t worn New Balance for a long time but I saw these on Instagram and decided to check them out at a store. I like the design of the sole.
3) NIKE_ A friend of mine gave me these Air Jordans. They’re really rare and vintage, made in 1996, but I like them so I wear them out.
4) & 5) ASICS_ There was a period of time when shiny sneakers were super popular, I bought these then. ASICS is my favorite sneaker brand at the moment.
What are some new challenges you would like to take on in the future, both at work and at home?
There are many things I would like to try in my work, but I am particularly interested in underwear design. I have tried to develop some designs at JUN MIKAMI, but the sewing is highly specialized and I haven’t been able to get to the point of creating a full-fledged product yet. It’s something I hope to try again soon. At home, I haven't tried to challenge myself with anything in particular. I like routine and am pretty content even if every day is the same.
After attending Bunka Fashion College and graduating from Otsuka Textile Design College, Mikami worked as a designer at an apparel maker before going freelance. Mikami established her own brand JUN MIKAMI in Spring and Summer 2012.
The 22AW collection is filled with Mikami’s honest passion for craftsmanship.
Her outlook and processes feel natural and unforced, a balance between embracing the mundane and zeroing in on her interests, which results in a collection that slots easily into daily life but with small, sometimes bold, and surprising details.
Check out some of her 22AW collection below.
Hair & Make_Moeka Kanehara