Pin It

East Asia's new wave: day #3

Selected by Nicola Formichetti, our week-long series with east Asia's freshest talents continues with Norwegian Wood actress and model Kiko Mizuhara, Harper's Bazaar China's Lucia Liu, multi-creative Yoon, and Hypebeast's Kevin Ma

Kiko Mizuhara

Kiko Mizuhara is a half-American, half-Korean model and actress. You can find her in every single Japanese magazine, campaign and lookbook, as well as international magazines such as AnOther and Purple Fashion. Her appearance in 2010’s Norwegian Wood found her a wider audience. She loves fashion, her cats and singing karaoke.

Describe your style in three words.
Kiko Mizuhara: Classic... this is a tough question!

What is the most exciting part of East Asia's young creative arts scene?
Kiko Mizuhara: I love Tokyo fashion, so Harajuku is the most exciting spot.

How do you think the perception of Asian pop culture has changed in the last ten years?
Kiko Mizuhara: I would say that Korean artists with true talents are getting more successful than Japanese ones. But in the meantime Harajuku fashion is still attractive to the rest of the world. Harajuku kids have strong passion inside their heart, which is great.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Kiko Mizuhara: My life has changed a lot in last five years, from acting in Norwegian Wood to collaborating with Karl Lagerfeld for a photoshoot… I can't choose!

How does the city influence your creativity?
Kiko Mizuhara: Tokyo is such a crazy city which accepts everything! Ruleless, with geeks and crazy people – so many new things going on.

What’s the best hangout spot in Tokyo?
Kiko Mizuhara: Shinjuku Ni-chome – gay town – is the most fun place in Japan! I also go to Harajuku, Shibuya and Aoyama for shopping.

Favourite website?
Kiko Mizuhara: I always search for interesting pictures on Tumblr. And Instagram!

Who's the wildest person you follow on Weibo/Twitter?
Kiko Mizuhara: Kageki Shimoda always tweets about the depths of humanity. When I'm depressed about something, I always feel my problem is such a tiny thing compared with what he tweets.

What do your parents think of what you do?
Kiko Mizuhara: At the beginning, my mum was very happy about me becoming a model, but she didn't imagine that I would do this for such a long time. She also wondered that I might feel bad if I became too famous, so when I told her I was going to be an actress, she was opposed. But now they all support everything I do!

Lucia Liu, Style Director at Harper's Bazaar China, 29, Beijing

When Lucia Liu graduated in fashion design, she didn’t understand what a stylist actually did, so her rise to style director of Harper’s Bazaar China at 27 was meteoric, to put it mildly. But Liu’s work speaks for itself – her love of patterns and colours and instinct for one-of-a-kind looks have built her an international reputation as a superstylist.

Describe your style in three words.
Lucia Liu: Prints, skirts, cropped. That’s pretty much what I wear for the whole summer!

What are you most excited about in the Asian creative scene at the moment?
Lucia Liu: I think it’s a young generation of creative people working in China now.  You Know, in London, you would have to assist for a couple of years before getting to go out and do your own work.  In a way, in China people may be more inexperienced and not as professional, but it’s good for people to experience, from quite a young age, what it’s like to work in your industry.  There are just so many [job] vacancies in China, to be honest, so of course people with less experience they can start off really young.  I think, in the future, not just in China, people involved in business are going to become younger and younger.

How do you think the West perceives Asian pop culture?  Has it changed?
Lucia Liu: I’m not sure.  I think people are very interested, but not really knowing what’s going on.  It will change and it has changed slowly, but I think the speed of the change will speed up because the people in the world are sharing the same information because of networking.  When I was younger, to learn new information probably took a couple of days, but now it’s a couple of minutes because everyone is sharing the same thing and the whole world is becoming smaller.

How does living in Beijing influence your creativity?
Lucia Liu: I’m not sure actually, because I went to England when I was 19 and that’s the age that you develop your own creativity and opinions.  From 19-26, that’s the time I spent in the UK.  The work I’m doing now in Beijing, it’s still my style, but I do more research in Oriental history, because I think that’s important and interesting.  I include this in a modern way and this has inspired me for a long time, because these are the roots that we come from.

What do your parents think about what you do?
Lucia Liu: My mum loves it, but she doesn’t really know what I’m doing. Sometimes there are features of me in magazines or on TV and she gets really happy, but she doesn’t really know what I’m doing and she doesn’t listen to my opinions about how to dress. My dad is quite stylish, but mum is always, like, sequins and polka dots and stuff. She doesn’t listen. They are very supportive. I actually changed my career. I was studying English and law at my university, but I quit after my first year and I moved to Birmingham to study BA (Fashion Design). I was born in a very small town and it’s not easy for everyone to get into a good university in China, but I did that and I quit in the first year—I think most parents wouldn’t let you do that.  But they supported me. They were happy that I made myself “alive”, really. They are very open-minded, even though we are from a small town.


Yoon is a multi-talented creator. Art direction, styling, jewellery design, graphic design, DJing – she does it all. Check out her and husband Verbal’s jewellery brand Ambush for some supreme Tokyo creativity.

Describe your style in three words.
Yoon: Brazen. Bold. Striking.

Name three songs that you can't live without.
Yoon: Janelle Monae - ‘Sir Greendown’

Bikini Kill - ‘Rebel Girl’

The Notorious B.I.G. - ‘Juicy’

What is the most exciting part of East Asia's young creative arts scene?
Yoon: The drive and that it's not tainted yet. 

How do you think the perception of Asian pop culture has changed in the last ten years?
Yoon: Now that Asian countries other than Japan are becoming influential, it's going to be a force the west can't avoid.

How does the city influence your creativity?
Yoon: Tokyo is the place where I discovered how to dream undisturbed. I always discover something new about myself here, because the city allows you to.

Favourite website?
Yoon: Godlike Productions, YouTube, Wikipedia, eBay, Etsy, Tumblr. I like looking up facts, artefacts and infos.

What do your parents think of what you do?
Yoon: They are happy and proud! :)

Kevin Ma, 30, Hypebeast, Hong Kong 

Kevin Ma is, perhaps, the biggest fashion fan ever. That’s what his website Hypebeast is about, and that’s why it has been such a success. Starting off as an outlet for Ma to share his sneaker obsession with the world, Hypebeast now garners three million hits per month, accompanied by a freshly minted print magazine of the same name.

Describe your personal style in three words.
Kevin Ma: Simple, clean, monotones.

What is the most exciting part of Asia's young creative arts scene?
Kevin Ma: Seeing young people come out to do their own thing. There’s a lot of opportunity here and people abroad are looking at us and noticing us. Before, in Europe and the States, maybe they didn’t really notice us as much, but now since the Asian market is getting bigger, we’re starting to get more attention. I’m really happy to see so much fresh new talent being recognized internationally.

How do you think the perception of Asian pop culture has changed in the last 10 years?
Kevin Ma: Well, in Asia, people are now more open to new things. In general, before people in Asia were more conservative, but people are coming out now and being more open to new ideas and expressing themselves more now. That’s where creativity comes from; express yourself and then you’re able to create. It’s hard to say how the West’s perception of Asia has changed, though, because my website always looks at the big picture and I haven’t been in this industry for over ten years yet! In general, though, I think the West sees Asia as the new market for fresh creativity. The West is, of course, still important, but, with the Internet, now you can see more and experience more and Asia is bringing a new perspective to the global scene.

How does the city influence your creativity?
Kevin Ma: Hong Kong is a fast-paced, fast-changing city. I experience new things, new designers, new people every day.  There are always new people coming into Hong Kong. Just meeting people, talking to them and making friends; that’s what influences me the most and it’s a byproduct of living in the city of Hong Kong.

Favourite website?

Kevin Ma: Well, it’s not actually a fashion website! For my job, I have to know about what’s happening in the technology world, so for me, my favourite website is

Who's the wildest person you follow on weibo?

Kevin Ma: I don’t have Weibo, but on Instagram it’s @jr_artist. He’s not that wild, but he travels everywhere and does mural art so it’s pretty interesting.

What do your parents think of what you do?
Kevin Ma: At first, they were all, “You’re Asian; you should work in finance or be a lawyer. You should work in those industries.” Then, after 3-4 years they started to accept it. I didn’t listen to what they were saying; I just did what I felt was right for me in the gut.