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When it comes to sustainable fashion, bohemian dresses or minimalist styles often come to mind. However, more people are now becoming aware of fast fashion’s impact, leading to a growing demand for ethical options that will cater to a wider audience.

Enter Mikumo Apparel, a slow fashion label by Asian-American illustrator, Tina (also known as Bon). Drawing inspiration from Korean and Japanese fashion styles, as well as hints of the dark/light academia aesthetics, she aims to introduce a unique approach to sustainable style. Find out more about her and the beautiful launch collection below!

Who is Tina?

With a background in oil painting, and a job in nonprofit management, Tina is a freelance illustrator in her spare time. In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, she started her first instagram account, @bonbon_illustrator, as an attempt to reclaim her creativity and make art for herself again, rather than for others.  Since then, ‘Bonbon’ has amassed a significant social media following of 28.1k and counting. 

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What is Mikumo Apparel?

The spark for Mikumo Apparel started back to 2019 when Tina was transitioning into a more sustainability-conscious lifestyle. She realised how difficult it was to find clothing that was both sustainable and allowed her to express her individuality,  saying, “As my old pleated mini skirts from Asia started to fall apart one after another after years of constant wear, I tried to look for sustainable alternatives and found none that were satisfactory.” 

Mikumo Apparel was a response to this struggle, becoming her way to keep wearing her closet staples and still feel good about where they came from.

What does Mikumo mean?

The name for Mikumo Apparel originated as ‘Migumo’; a blend of her, her husband and their dog’s names. According to Tina, “We use the name ‘migumo’ for everything… It’s just been a name we’ve been using for a long time to refer to our little family.” However, concerned that the name would fall flat without context, she delved deeper into her own culture and interests.

Drawing inspiration from her Chinese name*, as well as the brand’s Japanese inspirations, ‘Migumo’ was renamed into ‘Mikumo’ (美雲) – the characters meaning “beautiful” and “cloud” in both Japanese and Chinese. The cloud, Tina states, is her own symbol of process and journey – being a transition state between rain and blue skies, symbolically representing bad days and good days.

NOTE: Tina’s Chinese name is 雨青 (“rain,” “blue”), referring to the idiom, “雨过天青” – yǔ guò tiān qīng – meaning “the clear/blue sky after the rain”

What is the Launch Collection?

The below designs (aside from the Recycled 3-Way Blazer, which is a stretch goal item) will be available in sizes XS to XL, with the intention of expanding sizes as the brand scales.

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Sweetheart Blouse

Available in two colours (Cream and Mink), this feminine blouse features a gathered sweetheart yoke design and removable tie-neck ribbon detail with natural seashell buttons. It’s a versatile staple that can be dressed up or down for any occasion – and pairs perfectly with the skirt! The fabric is made of 70% Tencel and 30% cotton.

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Recycled Classic Pleated Mini Skirt

A fashion staple that seems to never go out of style, this skirt is available in three colours – Dove, Charcoal and Earl Gray Plaid. Tina states that she has “been wearing skirts like these for as long as I have been able to choose my own clothing,” and was influenced by classic anime like Sailor Moon. Solid fabrics use 100% recycled polyester from water bottles, whilst the plaid fabrics have a breakdown of 75% recycled polyester, 13% viscose, and 12% polyester. 

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Sailor Dress

One of my personal favourites is the Sailor Dress! This is inspired by a cotton dress that Tina bought while studying abroad in Siena, Italy, and the “effortlessly put-together” vibe people had over there. The dress features a modern interpretation of the sailor collar and delicate tie details. Made from 100% Tencel, this is currently confirmed to be available in two colours – Dove and Shadow.

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Recycled 3-Way Blazer

This stunning design is a stretch goal item and will be unlocked if their Kickstarter reaches $50k+ in funding. It uses natural corozo nut buttons and the same 100% rPET material as the skirts. The design is inspired by modern k-fashion looks, in particular when worn as a matching set with the skirts, and also encompasses the brand’s Academia vibes.

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How can I support Mikumo?

The designs are beautiful and I’m so happy to see more Asian representation within the ethical fashion niche. Additionally, I love that these values are being implemented into Japanese and Korean inspired styles – as someone living abroad, I also find that there are very limited options accessible to me.

If you want to support the brand, head on over to their Kickstarter to make a pledge. The Sweetheart Blouse, Recycled Classic Pleated Mini Skirt and the Sailor Dress are available as rewards, with more colours and the Recycled 3-Way Blazer being unlocked as stretch goal incentives.

Check out the Early Bird Specials – these are for the first 48 hours of the Kickstarter launch only, so you’ll have to get in quick for these special prices. Check out the table and bundles below, or head to the Kickstarter page to find out more.

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