There’s an emerging name in the world of ready-to-wear: Hanako Maeda. Her brand called ADEAM, or her surname spelled backwards, is deeply infused with her personal character and heritage. As someone born in Tokyo and raised in New York, there’s an interesting mix of cultures that can’t be missed in her influences and outputs.
If you’ve encountered collections mixing structured and soft and flowy elements, it’s probably her pieces that graced your eyes. Her general philosophy for the brand is to balance wearability, functionability, and creativity in every piece of clothing and that’s what brings out unconventional and interesting designs in all her collections. It would manifest in the contrasting fabrics in soft and light colors, and in some cases, prints.
Fine arts to fashion
At 25, her experiences are no different from a typical recent college grad but it’s definitely bore fruit that’s remarkable for someone at her age then. The difference, it seems, is that every crossroad here and there has led her to being a designer of her own line. It would seem as though having designer parents who ran the Japanese brand Foxey meant early and frequent exposure to that kind of business and environment and an inevitable access into the industry but Hanako would be the first to disagree, saying she wasn’t into it at first.
An internship at Allure during her last year of high school got her her first exposure to fashion. Though it was a beauty magazine, it still had a fashion department for which she worked under. Then she’d go on to study Anthropology and Art History in Columbia University.
This fine arts background would prove influential for her future endeavors, but at the time, she was keen on the path towards art exclusively, if not for the internships at Vogue then with Phillip Lim. The first introduced her to fashion editorials and everything that came with it. She learned the intellectual process of producing a fashion story and that it wasn’t for her. At Phillip Lim’s studio, she would experience the actual creative process of fashion designing.
Creative flair expressed in collections
Those two would be major factors to how Hanako realized that fashion was a more accessible creative outlet than art. It reached and connected directly to people as you can literally put it on your body. After graduating, she worked on a capsule collection consisting of only 15 pieces with patternmaker Nicolas Caito. Moving back to Tokyo after college, Hanako launched her first ADEAM line in the spring of 2012 and started having pop-up shops around department stores in Tokyo.
ADEAM was then invited by the Japanese government to take part and showcase its Fall 2012 collection at the Japan Next Program held in Shanghai. Soon after, the brand was one of three brand sponsored to show at Shanghai Fashion Week. After those stints, Hanako moved her work back to New York in the summer of the same year. The reason for the move was to be closer to the Garment District and work with other patternmakers from there. ADEAM’s Spring 2013 collection was then shown at Tokyo Fashion Week, although it was made in New York.
ADEAM’s Fall 2013 collection debuted at New York Fashion Week, where it reached an international audience. It attracted a major breakthrough at Saks Fifth Avenue where her pieces were sold exclusively and were all sold out in the first season.
The best of both worlds
Without first-hand experience in the two places, anyone can tell that New York and Tokyo are two of the cities with the richest fashion cultures in the world. New York is where all cultures meet and where you’ll find the most exquisite and individualistic of people, while Tokyo has its own character in the kawaii and harajuku aesthetics that apply to all genders and ages. The places itself are booming with personality.
In her own words, Hanako gets the best of both worlds as she has an “American education with traditional Japanese values.” This allows her to mix the best of what the two places can offer through the pieces in ADEAM.
In New York, there’s a very small gap between runway looks and street style outfits. The way people dress is just as eccentric as designers’ creative visions, even the craziest and wackiest ones. The Japanese’s take on fashion, however, is avant-garde. It’s colorful and adorable in every way but the industry and craft of fashion design still take into consideration women’s bodies, what flatters them, what women like to wear, and what makes them feel beautiful. According to Hanako, their fashion is closer to art.
You’d see major Japanese inspirations in some of the brand’s collections, like their literature for the Fall 2014 collection and the one from Spring 2014: Gloom Without Doom. Skipping on the common and expected cherry blossoms, ADEAM took inspiration from the hydrangeas in the early summer rain or Tsuyu.
Onward and upward
ADEAM has all the advantage of diverse inspirations. There are two ways this could influence the brand: either it has a major and endless source of new ideas, or an overwhelming amount of visual stimulation that stuns the design process. It’s not a problem though, as the brand’s founder takes on a measured approach in the way she runs ADEAM. There’s a reason for every decision. There’s more to running a fashion brand than what she used to think is just conceptualizing, sketching, and designing.
ADEAM’s is a millennial story of success: a young woman reaching great heights in her craft and business at such a young age. But after this, there’s one thing that sets the brand’s journey apart–this is no stint or peak point in the brand’s path. She’s the brand sold more collections at Saks, has expanded to e-commerce, and surely, there’s more to look forward to. This is only telling that we have a great brand in our midst and ADEAM is one name we should look out for in the industry.