Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Interview with MINT NeKO designer, MINT, at Anime Central


MINT at Anime Central

MINT-1__by_Kaitlin-MaginnisVKEIOS: Thank you for the opportunity of this interview - for our readers, will you please introduce yourself?
MINT: I’m the designer of MINT NeKO – I’m MINT.

VKEIOS: How does it feel to be returning to ACEN this year?
MINT: I first came to Anime Central as a part of Sixh., this time I’m very happy to be back with my new line.

VKEIOS: This year (at Anime Central) you held a Meow Mixer Party with GASHICON – how was the event?
MINT: It was so much fun; for MINT NeKO it’s not only the characters but I really wanted to express about the graphic design and textile designs. This was a great change to express myself as a designer, and express what I’m thinking. Also, I had a lot of passion to tell everyone how much I want to be popular among girls.

VKEIOS: What can we expect at the fashion show this year, now that you're presenting as MINT NeKO rather than a part of Sixh.?
MINT: MintNeKO characters are called “yuru-chara” a kind of lazy, laid back kind of personality that’s very popular in Japan right now. MintNeKO is based on yuru-chara and I really want to express what that is and how it’s a different world from Sixh. Also I want to express “Mint Character” meaning myself, through the fashion show as well. In my fashion show you’ll see a totally different side of me than what you’ve seen with Sixh.



VKEIOS: At what age did you start taking interest in fashion?
MINT: I started taking interest in fashion when I was about 15 years old, in middle school. The reason why? Because I wanted to be popular among girls. I was interested in so many different things at that time, not just fashion, but also music and punk, many different things, but lastly what remained was that I was really into fashion.

VKEIOS: You started in the fashion industry in 2006. Up until that point, did you ever have any doubts that you would become a designer?
MINT: I never give up my dream, even before I entered Sinc in 2006 I never really doubted becoming a fashion designer. To this day I’m still following my dream and I realize that it’s not just the designs anymore, but I also have to think about the business side as well. I’m learning every day.

VKEIOS: Can you describe to us the first outfit or accessory you've ever made?
MINT: The first garment I created after entering Sinc was a mod design; unique in the fact that you could wear it in so many different ways.



MINT-2__by_Kaitlin-MaginnisVKEIOS: Last year, you debuted your MINT NeKO line. In your own words, can you describe to us your vision?
MINT: MintNeKO is based on everything about the cat characters, and each cat has it's own personality and a story. So for example if one cat in particular liked onigiri, then a garment featuring that cat will also have onigiri in the design.

VKEIOS: What are some of the most challenging or time consuming aspects of the design process?
MINT: Well, I’m really lazy so… I want to finish my work as quick as possible. But before I go there, the part that takes the most time is to think of what the new collection will be like; the cats, the theme, that’s what takes the most time.

VKEIOS: Your designs already strong on their own, but the prints really add a fun quirkiness - what brought on the decision to use these cats as prints and motifs?
MINT: I don’t think I have much creativity as a fashion designer, compared to the people I look up to, like Yohji Yamamoto, who have the wow factor in their designs. I don’t think I have that talent, so if I couldn't go all the way like that, I asked what is my form of creativity for my brand, and for me it was my cat characters.  It is unique, one of a kind, and very me.

VKEIOS: What inspired you to use a more avant garde style in making your clothes such as your eye-catching silhouettes?
MINT: My signature fashion silhouette is wide pants or skirt; wide but with a nice form. This inspiration comes from western culture but I combine it with Japanese or Asian taste to creature a really unique form. This is my signature silhouette.

VKEIOS: If you had to pick one design or outfit that you think represents Mint NeKO as a whole, what would it be and why?
MINT: If we’re speaking in terms of silhouette then definitely the wide pants, but in terms of print I would say the cat-print t-shirts.

VKEIOS: Your designs features over 200 individual characters and are generally based off of graffiti doodles. How long have you been drawing them?
MINT: It took more than 3 years to make this family of 250 cats, but as you know, I’m lazy... so people say to me “what about the new additions” and I’ll say “Yeah, yeah I’m trying.”

VKEIOS: If you had to pick one thing of the characters as a favorite, which cat would it be?
MINT: Wagahai was the first cat character I drew, and that was the opportunity for me to expand that world, so that’s my favorite.

VKEIOS: I really enjoy the cat character anime episodes posted on Sinctv on youtube. What was it like making those?
MINT: At the time I was in Sixh. and I was writing the lyrics for the songs and thought that we should combine the music and my characters for the promotion video.


Collaborations & More

VKEIOS: So far in your career, you have collaborated with many different musicians such as Golden Bomber. What is it like collaborating with them?
MINT: We created the web-series “Warate Nyantomo” and my first guest was Jun of Golden Bomber. It’s like a talk show, where we talk about fun things and afterwards Jun introduced to Ryohei of Megamasso, and Ryohei introduced to the next person; that collaboration with Golden Bomber started a chain reaction and gave me the opportunity to work with other artists.

VKEIOS: Who was the first musician or band that you collaborated with?
MINT: Aoi of Ayabie was my first collaboration.

VKEIOS: What do you do in your collaborations with these artists? Do you create original pieces for them?

MINT: Basically when they come to my showroom and pick up what they want and I help to coordinate it for them. I don’t really make special costumes for them, but there was one case where for Jun of Golden Bomber asked me to create something new for their Kohaku Uta Gassen performance

VKEIOS: Outside of fashion, you also play bass in the Sixh band alongside Ibi and Nari – is the band still active?
MINT: Parting from Sixh. I left the band as well, so Sixh. is just IBI now. I love music, so just for fun I created a project called MNO where I just played one time. I don’t have to have a permanent band, but I do like to just play for fun.

VKEIOS: When and why did you first start playing the bass – were you interested in music even before your interest in fashion?
MINT: Why bass? Well, as you know, I’m very lazy… so the bass looked easier than the guitar. I play the bass but I never thought I had talent as a musician. I couldn’t become a musician so I asked myself what I could be; the answer was a fashion designer. I am really passionate about writing lyrics, and that’s more behind the scenes than showing talent on stage as a musician.

VKEIOS: Outside of fashion and music, what are some of the other things that you’re interested in?
MINT: I love to read, and I hate to match movies. I want to finish everything and have my own time. When reading everything is on my time, but with a movie I have to sit there for 2 hours, I don’t like that. I finish everything early and then what do I do? I read a book, and when I get bored with it I go out with friends.

VKEIOS: You seemed to have seamlessly married art, fashion and music through MINT NeKO, was this a challenge to accomplish?
MINT: It’s every designers dream to have their own shop, but it was a really difficult process to get to the point where I could make my own MINT NeKO store.



VKEIOS: What do you think the future holds for career as a designer – are there things that you’d like to experiment with in the future?
MINT: I would like to be a lifetime designer and keep designing my own clothes until I die; until then I hope that people will keep buying my clothes. That’s my dream.

VKEIOS: Thank you again for you time, do you have any closing statements for the readers at Visual KEIOS?
MINT: To everything that’s come to know MINT NeKO through this interview, if you’re interested please come to the website and be surprised by how many cats I have! Also we have the webshop so you can check out the MINT NeKO fashion line as well and buy my clothes. Thank you!



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This interview with MINT at Anime Central 2013 was conducted by Whitney (bibi) Hopkins, with questions written by Rita Nokkaew and Alicia R. Thomas. Many thanks to Anime Central, MINT, and Yaz for making this interview possible.


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