Cyclas Creative Director Keiko Onose on Her Line and Rise of Tokyo Fashion Scene

by Sydney Sadick

It seems like Tokyo is on everyone’s mind, thanks to the Met Gala and the Costume Institute’s new exhibition honoring Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons. To continue with the trend du moment, we talked to Japanese designer Keiko Onose, founder and creative director of Cyclas. The designer, who was previously the fashion director at United Arrows, launched her brand with her Fall 2016 collection and is now available in stores worldwide. 

You launched your brand in 2016. Why did you feel there was a void in the marketplace for Cyclas?
The rise of women entrepreneurs in Tokyo has led to women shopping more elevated and sophisticated ready-to-wear separates. I saw this void and started designing refined separates that were elevated and functional for these women to wear throughout the day and on various occasions. These women are intelligent and shop investment pieces that are truly modern and allows them to exude confidence.

What does Cyclas mean?
Cyclas has a Latin/Greek origin and means precious clothes that are worn during ceremonious occasions. The word came to me by chance. I really love the way it sounds and the spelling of it.

Tell us about your background and what you did before launching your own brand.
I studied business at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. After university, I studied fashion design at Bunka Fashion school in Tokyo. From there, I went on to be an assistant to a fashion consultant. Then I moved to one of the biggest fashion retailer chains in Japan, United Arrows, and was a buyer for international designers and their fashion director for 13 years. After leaving United Arrows, I  launched The SecretCloset, a luxury specialty retailer, which currently has six stores in Japan. I started my own collection—The SecretCloset as a private label—for the store. After it was picked up by luxury department stories in Tokyo, I decided it was time to officially launch the label as a standalone brand.

How do you describe your design aesthetic?
My collection is designed to be worn. It’s minimal ready-to-wear separates that exude elegance, which can be recognized by its fine fabrics and tailoring. The collection isn’t meant to overpower the person wearing it.

You’re based in Japan. How do you describe the Tokyo woman?
Tokyo women are very stylish, but don’t necessarily follow the latest trend. They are intelligent, sophisticated and shop investment pieces that they will wear and continue to wear for a long time. They purchase garments with refined subtle details and high-quality fabrics, but never compromising a sense of ease and functionality.

What was the inspiration behind your SS17 collection?
I don’t design with a specific theme in mind. I took a non-traditional route to being a designer and creative director. My experience has led me to design based on instinct and with the consumer’s lifestyle as the priority. For each collection, I think about how this multi-faceted woman has evolved and where she is going next. Based on that, I start to look for fabrics and think of silhouettes and colors that would best suit her.

What can we expect for Fall?
Beautiful separates and coats with fur detail. Perfectly tailored pants, heavenly cashmere knit tops in lush colors like pink dolage and parrot green, and a super fine angora coat that is soft and light.

You debuted your collection in Paris. Do you have plans to show at Paris Fashion Week come Fall?
Yes, I will continue doing intimate presentations in Paris. I love the warm and special environment.

Where is Cyclas available in the U.S?
Cyclas is sold at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC on their 3rd floor and Blake in Chicago.

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