What if the next big thing in fashion wasn't something wearable, but something all together different -- something more?
The idea of fashion designers drawing inspiration from other areas -- be it music or art -- is nothing new. But in recent years, the trend has accelerated, with designers forming real world collaborations with artists -- think sportswear brand adidas and Pritzker prize architect Zaha Hadid, or Snarkitecture and COS -- leading to the development of new more hybridized business models.
At the forefront of this new hybrid trend is pioneering French brand Maison Kitsuné. Founded by Parisians Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki 13 years ago, the music-label-fashion-house crossover has since seen global success, with over 50 artists signed and 12 stand alone boutiques in Paris, New York, Tokyo, and most recently, Hong Kong.
Having originally met in a record shop in Paris, the duo's combined interest in both music and fashion pushed them to experiment with more multi-layered hybrid forms (previous collaborations saw the duo work alongside Daft Punk, among others).
Today the Kitsuné record label represents big names such as La Roux and Two Door Cinema Club, while the Kitsuné fashion label boasts celebrity customers such as Jay Z and Ellie Goulding.
Described by Loaëc and Kuroki as a "lifestyle brand," the pair reject the idea that fashion and music should be separated.
"Music and fashion have a lot in common when it comes to codes and mechanics, despite the fact that they're two different worlds. For us, it was time to put those two activities under one roof and one experience," explains Loaëc.
The label, according to the duo, is a reflection of their own lifestyle. "We have become our brand and vice versa. Fashion and music are two different worlds with different codes, spirit, environments, cycles, but both co-exist as equals. Working in both industries forces us to remain open-minded. We don't have any primary targets. We're speaking to everyone."
This sense of open-mindedness can be seen elsewhere too. Not content with focusing exclusively on music and fashion, the two maintain a prominent interest in interior design and architecture as well.
Given Masaya's background as a trained architect, the duo maintain full control of the interior design throughout their boutique locations, establishing their own Kitsuné signature interior while simultaneously pulling inspiration from each store's surroundings.
"For our boutiques, we're always trying to adapt and draw our inspiration from the country, the neighbourhood, the cultural atmosphere," says Masaya.
Using the recently opened Hong Kong store as an example, Masaya explains that the new location fuses "post-modern chic with Parisian heritage and touches of traditional Asian decors."
But in a city obsessed with harmony and feng shui, this coming together of multiple elements is no easy task.
"More and more Hong Kong brands are reaching out to artists to be the faces of their collection, releasing compilations, inviting bands to perform to their events [but] it's important to have music and fashion under one roof without using either as a marketing accessory. It's all about the good balance and creating the best recipe."