Today, global sporting giants Oakley are launching a new collection of exclusive eyewear, teaming up with renowned Japanese-born, Brooklyn-based artist Meguru Yamaguchi to design the ‘Kokoro’ Collection – a unique collaboration created to inspire and unite athletes of all abilities through a shared love of sport.
Together with the launch, Oakley is also making a generous $200,000 donation to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organisation, sharing its love to support their global work in helping countries prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the exclusive new launch of the Kokoro Collection, Man of Style caught up with the extremely talented artist and designer Meguru Yamaguchi to discuss the Kokoro Collection, how a trip to Oakley HQ was a dream come true and how sports unite us all during difficult times.
Man of Style: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Meguru! How are you? What have you been up to during this difficult time?
Meguru Yamaguchi: Great to chat, guys! I’ve been well. Just trying to navigate these unusual times as best as I can. I’ve been spending quality time with my family but was itching to get back to work, so I rented a new studio closer to my house, as I could not get to my studio as I use public transportation to travel there.
MoS: Your new collaboration with Oakley is pretty amazing! How did it come about?
MY: Oakley contacted me, which was so exciting as I have been a fan of the brand and products since my highschool days. The original idea was to work on a collection around the Tokyo Olympics, but as the world has changed so has the collection and I’m super happy with where we ended up.
MoS: What is the Kokoro collection inspired by? And what does it represent?
MY: I met with Oakley designers, engineers and Team Oakley athletes during a trip to Oakley HQ in California. On the trip, I got to explore behind-the-scenes of Oakley which really inspired me before designing the artwork for this collection. I was moved by their united passion for sport.
In speaking with the team, I was inspired by their endless positivity and dedication as well as the strong sense of identity each of them encompassed as part of Team Oakley. Designing a collection that was emblematic of this unity was core to my process and something that I look for in all my partnerships.
The name of the collection, ‘Kokoro,’ is a Japanese word meaning ‘heart; mind; spirit’. The collection embodies the brilliance and beauty of humanity and aims to inspire a sense of belonging and community during these unprecedented times.
MoS: What would you say are the unifying qualities of sport? Why are these qualities, together?
MY: When meeting with Team Oakley athletes, it was clear that their passion for sport and their ability to push the boundaries of what’s possible was the common thread that truly unites them. The Kokoro Collection was created in the same spirit. Personally, I’m always pushing myself to explore new things in life and express that through my art. I really felt connected to the athletes in that way.
MoS: How would you describe your art, Meguru?
MY: I would say my style is unique and pushes the possibilities of art, gesture and form, going beyond the conventional or traditional perceptions and understandings by creating ‘sculptural paintings’. Using a ‘cut-and-paste’ technique, I sample elements of painting, collage acrylics and spray paint to create works reminiscent of Hip-Hop samplings from the 70s.
My technique also comes from the characteristics of the place and people I know. My hometown of Tokyo showed me diverse societies that influence each other to create a new culture, while my time in New York has shown me the importance of pursuing one’s own style and beliefs, regardless of what others around you may think or do. I’m influenced by family and friends in my current home of Brooklyn and use the internet to stay connected and communicate on a global scale.
MoS: What is your creative process when creating your artwork?
MY: Art tells the story of my life. Currently, my artwork is explaining my daily lifestyle, so as my life expands and changes, my artistry will shift and change too. With the Oakley Kokoro Collection, my experience meeting with the Team at Oakley really inspired me, especially the passion of the athletes. Designing a collection that was emblematic of the unity of athletes around the world was core to my process.
MoS: What’s next for you, Meguru?
MY: I don’t want to say too much, but my time with Oakley has just begun. We’re working on a special collection for summer ‘21 that will include apparel and eyewear. Watch this space!