It's pretty inspiring — and rare — to see sales floor staff climb the ranks to end up on the design end of the fashion industry, but Mizuki Ueda achieved just that, and without a formal education. As the creative director of Enföld, a Tokyo-based contemporary womenswear line launched in 2012, Ueda sought to offer a wardrobe of easy-to-wear, conceptual basics for busy women who wanted to look polished and refined. (The brand refers to this as "casual elegance.")
When I meet Ueda at the opening of the brand's first U.S. store in New York City's West Village (Enföld already had a wholesale operations within the Asian and European markets), she tells me via a translator that there is no specific person or muse she keeps in mind when designing. "I want women to explore the [different] combinations to find her own [way to wear the clothes]," she says. "It's meant to be for different types of women, size-wise and age-wise. What is important for her is to make women look good, while being relaxed."
As a whole, the brand prides itself on using high-quality fabrics — the majority of which are produced locally in Japan, with a selection sourced from Italy — to create conceptual, fashion-forward pieces; it's not terribly unlike the Japanese school of thought for which designers Rei Kawakubo and Chitose Abe are also known. "The theme changes all the time, but what is consistent is the three-dimensional aspect and construction," says Ueda, whose label is also carried at Tokyo-based department stores Isetan, Mitsukoshi and Barneys New York Japan, as well as in several brand boutiques across Japan. "We're already known as a 'minimal' clothing brand [in Japan], but with the new collection, we wanted to show that we also have more detailed clothes," says Ueda, whose spring collection features more color and abstract silhouettes than seasons past. "Starting with [the] New York [store], we wanted to be known for the mix of detailed styles and minimal designs."
Visit Enföld at 411 Bleecker Street, and click through the slideshow below to view Enföld's spring 2017 collection.