WWWE COULD BE NEXT- My Interview with Yokoo and my new weekly posts on PAPERMAG.com
I’m sooooooooo endlessly excited to be the latest blogger for PAPERMAG (Thanks David H. and Alexis for being so cool and inviting me to do this!!!). Each week I’m going to interview a young creative who’s sharing their work and building their audience on the Web. So I get to turn my obsession with Flickr, Lookbook, Etsy, MySpace Music, etc into something productive and meet and chat with cool people in the process. Seriously, I was actually giddy when Alexis, PAPERMAG’s managing editor, told me that my first post was up.
Here’s my first post with Yokoo, one of my favorite young designers I’ve been following on Flickr and Etsy for a while. I was pleased to find that she’s even more interesting, friendly and cool than I imaged she’d be after seeing her incredible work.
If you have recommendations of who I should interview next, drop me an email at mooney[dot]amanda@gmail or DM me on Twitter (@amandamooney).
Meet the newest member of our PAPERMAG blogging team, Amanda Mooney, a digital kid who spends far too much time in social networks and is addicted to finding fresh talent emerging somewhere between Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Lookbook and MySpace. In her weekly column, “Wwwe Could Be Next,” Mooney will chat with one of these young creatives, to share their work, perspective and advice.
A few months back, I started seeing Yokoo, a self-described “accidental knitting wunderkind,” show up everywhere on the web. Known for her charming and slightly subversive scarves and accessories, Yokoo has taken a fresh approach to establishing her brand and audience. As sheposts her new accessories, scarves and dresses for summer and announces her new collaboration with BleubirdVintage, I caught up with her to chat about her work and adventures as a promising young designer with a growing roster of devoted digital fanboys.
OK, so in 140 characters or less of course, describe your style.
How did you get into fashion?
I fell into fashion by accident…. I was always inventive. And I always somehow knew that there was something just beyond the horizon of what most people considered success. I started to see other young people that were my age doing amazing things with backgrounds that were similar to mine. It took a lot of time to put it all together- more time than I care to admit.
And now, I’ve been able to quit my lousy retail job and dedicate every waking hour to turning my high school hobby into the launching pad for a handmade empire…. With backorders piling up, I’m adding new pieces to my line. That’s kind of nuts since I do it all by myself.
And how did you start sharing you work on the Web?
It all started with my desire to start a street fashion blog. I wanted to start a street fashion blog since being introduced to Cutie Magazine out of Japan. They would carry Cutie Magazine at the now defunct Toward Records. No one knew about them. And the stuff that American kids are doing now, they were doing ten years ago. So around 2004, I decided to start a street fashion magazine website. But the technology was not readily available the way it is today to make it reasonably efficient.
Then RSS feeds were introduced around 2006. That’s when I started to build what I thought was the ﬁrst street fashion blog on the Internet. But then when I came across a Flickr group called Wardrobe Remix and it collapsed all of my dreams and ambitions because it was ten times better than my website. So I just started contributing my photographs to that group and working on other projects altogether.
What’s the biggest advantage or frustration of being a young designer today?
I would deﬁnitely say the challenge of the information age is both frustrating and thrilling to many of today’s designers. But I ﬁnd this problem allows for the more creative designers to eclipse their competition. Many of the designers that I talk to everyday feel worn out and threatened by the speed at which the Internet has allowed personal expression to be replicated, commodiﬁed and quickly perpetrated, but I ﬁnd that those with a keen eye for style can tell the difference, and those who don’t aren’t supposed to.
Before, you had so many close minded individuals who would never in a million years accept the work that I am putting out, who now ﬁnd it daring and on the peripheral of what they might start wearing next season. This, to me, allows me to get out a lot of my ideas, and then move on to the next thing.
There is a new movement towards avant-garde street fashion that’s allowing a voice for young designers to be as expressive as your traditional runway designers, but still accepted as clothes the one can wear in the streets of bigger cities like New York, or London.
How have Flickr and Etsy specifically helped you build your brand?
I don’t think it was that easy. Branding is very difficult and something that takes more thought than I care to mention. Etsy and Flickr have allowed me to express my brand at a particular level. It allows me to enter at a particular market in speciﬁc kind of way. But at the same time it has also prohibited me from reaching beyond to other markets in a more traditional way. It’s upon the artist to decipher the riddle that’s involved in rebranding himself to a different audience. But it’s very much like a puzzle, and I enjoy it that way.
And on all of these sites, you’re the actual face for your brand. What’s that like?
I ﬁnd when people sincerely let down there guard and open themselves up, they can be absolutely fascinating.Well, that’s all I am trying to do with my brand. I am trying to tell my little story in my little corner of the world. I know it sounds trite, but that’s what it is.
Leave us with some links… Who are your favorite people on Lookbook and what sites are you devoted to on the web?
Images from Yokoo on Flickr.
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