The owner of Leeds contemporary indie Miyuki-Zoku tells Marie Davies why business is booming for his own label.
Miyuki-Zoku is an unusual name, where does it come from?
The name Miyuki-Zoku comes from a youth tribe in Japan who were the first Japanese teenagers to adopt the Ivy League look from America in the 1960s. I was looking for a concept for the store when starting out and, as the Japanese workwear influence is massive, it just came together nicely.
As a new store, do you find it difficult to attract customers competing against established Leeds indies like Kiosk 78 and Hip?
I have to be creative in the brands I stock. Because MKI hasn’t been going as long, a lot of the brands I’d like to stock are already in similar stores in the city. I make a lot of trips to Asia to discover new brands that I can bring to the UK, as well as to get inspiration for the store’s own brand, MKI.
The MKI menswear own brand is proving popular isn’t it?
Yes, about 60% of sales come from the own brand.
I’d say the own-brand product in the store is more project-based than [strictly by] collection. Much of the product is sourced and manufactured in the Far East. However, the leathers are from India and the knitwear is from Scotland.
What product categories does the own brand cover?
Knitwear, outerwear, shirts and T-shirts. I’d love to do raw denim, but it’s a completely different world.
What other brands do you stock?
[French nautical lifestyle brand] Saint James, bags from Duluth Pack and accessories from Comme des Garçons among others.
Do you want to take on more labels?
I’m looking to move to a bigger unit in Leeds, then I’d be able to take on more brands. I’m also looking for a potential store in Manchester.
Who is the Miyuki-Zoku customer?
Men aged between about 21 and 30 [the store mostly sells menswear] who are conscious about how they look. They come to the store because they know they won’t see anyone else in the same item of clothing – for our own brand we only make about five or six of each style.
Your background is in interior design, so how did you get into fashion?
I graduated with a degree in interior design in 2008, but I couldn’t find a job. Interior design is a luxury that suffers when the economy is in trouble, so I found work as head of tailoring for Paul Smith in the Notting Hill store for a year. Following this I joined a design consultancy for interior design before making the decision to start my own store [in May 2010].
What else is in the pipeline for Miyuki-Zoku?
I’ll be looking to do an MKI Black Label. This will be a menswear capsule collection that I want to sell into [directional indies] such as The Goodhood Store in North London and Present in London’s Shoreditch.
I’m in talks with an agency about wholesaling the line. Wholesale prices would be about £40 for a crew-neck sweater up to £100 for leather items.
- Vik Tailor is the owner of contemporary indie Miyuki-Zoku in Leeds
What’s been the best-selling item since you opened?
The MKI DQN leather jacket. This was our first own-label project and we’ve re-released it each season in different colourways.
What’s on your personal wish list?
It would have to be an Our Legacy rolling blazer, some Common Project grey suede chukka boots, Yuketen hunting boots and a perfect-fitting sheepskin flying jacket.
What brands do you admire?
Folk, Albam and Our Legacy.
What is the store’s best-selling item at the moment?
It’s from our 100% pure British wool range; the fisherman knit has done especially well.