“Space in your Pocket” is the theme of Otsu’s AW15 collection and is the brainchild of Osaka-born, Wellington-based designer Yuka Maud, who took her maiden name ‘Otsu’ and turned it into a label about six years ago. Of the ethos behind the label she says, “We give minimal stimulation to make extraordinary feelings in everyday life and clothes that emit a delicate light, open the mind of the wearer.”
A conceptual and graphic artist by trade, Yuka gravitated towards fashion through a desire to work with fabric, and she recalls her time at art school making fabric shapes and stuffing them.
Her fine arts background has most certainly informed her current and previous collections and she is not one to shy away from experimentation. Each piece is like an artwork in itself; she introduces exaggerated geometric shapes into her designs, offering a new perspective on clothing—its form and function.
Based in New Zealand for the past ten years, Yuka says that her designs are not particularly Japanese, although instinctively— and perhaps subconsciously—aspects of the traditional kimono have featured as a recurring theme in her work: the kimono itself consisting of a series of shapes and patterns that cross over and wrap in layers, appearing simultaneously simple, yet intricate.
“When I was in Japan, people used to think my designs were like European styles,” she says. “I was born in Japan and lived there most of my life, so maybe it’s in my genes, [but] Japanese trends are a bit different from the rest of the world, I think.”
Yuka says that other designers don’t play a factor in influencing her designs, and her uniqueness is evident in collections that traverse minimalism and eccentric, post-modern, art school conceptualism.
Inspiration comes to her spontaneously and her production runs are fairly limited, which benefits the kind of consumer that wants something a little more one-off.
“Nothing is ever perfect [and] that’s why I like it,” she says of running her own label. “There is no right or wrong way and it’s important to do what you like, and you learn very quickly.”
So who is the ultimate Otsu customer?
“Anyone who has their own philosophy on style,” she says.
Creative Direction: Nadya France-White and Yuka Maud
Make Up: Lara Daly using Mac
Hair: Joel Hornell
Styling: Nadya France White
Model: Tarikura Kapea