Fresh off her fall runway show at The Beekman in New York, Hanako Maeda, designer and founder of Adeam, held court Friday afternoon at Bergdorf Goodman, where she and beauty entrepreneur Edward Bess hosted a luncheon and fall trunk show for customers at the Fifth Avenue store. In addition, guests were invited to shop the current spring collection at the Adeam pop-up shop, which will be on the floor until March 4.
“My aesthetic is East meets West,” said Maeda, who was born in Tokyo but raised in New York. She splits her time between the two cities.
“I grew up in the fashion business,” she said, noting her mother, Noriko Maeda, had a store in the Carlyle Shops on Madison Avenue. While attending high school on the Upper East Side, she would frequently pop into her mother’s store and attend fittings, and accompany her parents to Italy for factory visits. Her family owns a fashion company called Foxey in Japan, which manufactures suitings, cocktail dresses and knits and has 20 stores there. They also own their own Japanese factories.
For her five-year-old Adeam collection, Maeda, 30, does all her design and development in her Chelsea studio in New York and her production in Japan.
According to Maeda, Adeam’s fall collection was inspired by Japan’s “Modern Girls” from the Twenties, which is the Japanese equivalent of the American flappers. In Japan, there was a surge of working-class women who had a new sense of financial and emotional freedom and could break free of societal constraints of traditional dressing. “Instead of wearing kimonos every day, they incorporated Western style into their wardrobe. They would mix and match the traditional kimonos with the flapper drop-waist dresses,” she said.
Adeam’s business appears to be growing at a nice clip. Currently the company has 20 stores worldwide, as well as three flagships in Japan. In addition to the Bergdorf’s pop-up (there was one in the fall too), the collection is carried by Net-a-porter, Moda Operandi, Selfridges, Browns, Lane Crawford, Harvey Nichols, Intermix, Forty Five Ten and Neopolitan, among others.
Linda Fargo, fashion director of Bergdorf’s said, “I think the appeal of Hanako’s designs is that they have a distinctively feminine point of view while also being very modern in their constructions. She’s an exciting young talent and she’s smart to be in the store as frequently as possible to meet with clients and experience the collection the way clients do. You can’t underestimate the importance of making a personal connection with both clients and the in-store sellers versus clothes which simply hang or live online and have to speak for themselves.”
Adeam is launching denim for fall, following a resort introduction of accessories. Selfridges was the first store to pick up the handbags. The brand is looking to expand handbags, which it manufactures in Italy, to the American market. Adeam also introduced footwear for fall. “We’ve been in market for a week and we’ve got a lot of traction from the international retailers,” she said. All of their handbags and shoes are available for pre-order on Moda Operandi. This year she plans to offer a pre-fall collection.
Asked why she chose to have a runway show in New York rather than other fashion capitals, she said, “I feel a personal connection. I have a lot of my childhood friends here. I also think New York is a really exciting city, and there are so many people from different parts of the world. There’s a sense of acceptance for people who come from different places. In the current climate, it’s important to accept different cultures and people from different walks of life.”
She also believes in a diverse runway. “I think it’s very important as an Asian designer to have representation of different models. I think beauty exists in different ways. I had white girls, Asian girls, African-American girls, Latino girls. It’s really a mix. That’s a reflection of New York as a city,” she said. She has no plans to launch beauty at this point, but noted that Nars, the makeup brand, sponsored her fashion show. She will continue to show in September and February.
As for whether her designer collection has more of a New York or Japanese sensibility, she concluded, “From my Japanese side, the Japanese avant-garde aesthetic is something that I really love. I think it’s always important to inject a sense of something that’s unexpected or fun into the clothing, which I think is very Japanese. From my New York side, I think functionality is very important in terms of clothes. As a woman designer, I also wear my own clothing. I want to design something that’s easy to put on in the morning and easy to take care of. Something that doesn’t crease when you’re traveling and can wash in the washing machine. It’s a balance of having that artiness and conceptual aesthetic that comes from my Japanese side and balancing that with the more functional, urban aesthetic of New York.”