TOKYO — Estonian lingerie and loungewear designer Kriss Soonik made a personal appearance at a pop-up shop for her brand Wednesday night. Hosted by Isetan’s flagship department store in the Shinjuku area of the Japanese capital, the pop-up will be open through Nov. 14.
To mark the opening, Soonik conducted a “live photo shoot” in front of a small group of gathered customers. A model dressed in Soonik’s designs posed in front of the entrance to the pop-up, while the designer gave direction and snapped away on her camera. Afterward, she posed for photos with customers.
The European lingerie brand now counts its largest market as Japan, where it has had a presence for three years.
“For me, Japan was always a huge inspiration for my collections, but I never realized when I actually came here that I will find the people who love it most as well,” Soonik said. “I just had a chat with some of our [Japanese] customers and tried to find out what the reason is, and I think that the main concept that keeps popping up is the combination of sexy and cute. Most of the European and American lingerie brands are quite strong, sexy-strong as we Europeans know it. But for Japan, I understand that their concept of sexy is more ‘kawaii,’ more cute. So I think that’s where we tap into. We’re quite feminine and quite cute and quite sexy at the same time.”
Soonik said Japan has been a great fit for her brand, as customers here seem to understand it and relate to it better than customers in other countries.
“Essentially we are a lingerie brand, but at the core of the brand there’s always been this underwear as outerwear concept. Japan is a good example of it, because in Europe and America we mostly sell in lingerie boutiques, so our collections are a bit different there,” she said. “But here, I think the customer really gets the concept of underwear as outerwear. It’s nothing really new to them, and so they really love the sheer tops, which are one of our best-selling pieces in Japan.”
Soonik said she hopes to open her brand’s first freestanding store in the Japanese capital sometime within the next five years.
“It’s going to be our tenth anniversary in 2019, so I was kind of targeting that, but that’s too close now, so maybe in a couple of years’ time,” she said. “But we’re definitely flirting with the idea right now.”