Secret Closet: Fashion designer Michail Gkinis


“Industrial and nature” isn’t just a slogan for Tokyo-based Greek designer Michail Gkinis. It’s become a kind of lifestyle choice too. The former Issey Miyake intern and London College of Fashion graduate has recently opened an atelier and lifestyle gallery boutique in Todoroki overlooking the beautiful and natural valley the area is famous for, and at the same time, inhabiting an industrial yet elegant structure designed by Suppose Design Office. The dichotomy between natural and industrial characteristics is something which has defined Gkinis’s work since he started to show his designs in Tokyo about ten years ago.

Gkinis has recently changed the name of his brand from aptform to Michail Gkinis. He explained in a recent interview with eightframe that, “It’s a new era for us. Moving here (Todoroki) has given us a new energy for our brand. We have renamed it from aptform to Michail Gkinis. So we have a new branding, language and identity.”

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Part of this new identity is the introduction of a color palette. aptform was renowned for having a monochrome philosophy shared by other Japanese brands such as Julius and The Viridi-anne. The new Michail Gkinis brand sees pops of color as a way of accessorizing the light and shade of the main line apparel. Gkinis sees this fresh approach to color as “an evolution.”

Gkinis has some very high-profile customers such as Academy Award-winning actor and musician Jared Leto. A big fan of rock and industrial music Gkinis also had the chance to design an outfit for the frontman of Japanese rockers Okamotos. This situation came about when he attended the Okinawa Film Festival where he presented an award to a movie titled “Love Session”, directed by Eiji Itaya, which is focused on musicians such as Crystal Kay, Okamotos and RIP SLYME. Gkinis saw this opportunity as a “way to target and customize our work for artists and rock musicians.”

As part of the new artistic philosophy for the Michail Gkinis brand is a customized and semi-order service for his clients. He says, “We can offer this kind of service to our personal clients. The can touch, they can feel and we can give them the right advice which color or material is better etc…And at the same time they can make their own pattern, of course with an extra charge for this. So it’s cool for the customers. “One off” is a key word for us. It’s kind of why we call our brand wearable art.”

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His latest collection is “Secret Closet”, a seasonless and timeless compact collection of clothing for both men and women and some pieces which can be worn by both sexes. Much like aptform some of the new Michail Gkinis collection is unisex such as one item which at first glance looks like a simple scarf or shawl. “We’ve been making items which are more transformable” he says. “This kind of scarf can be utilized as a cardigan. Although it can also be used as a jacket or shawl. You can also wrap it as a skirt or as a one piece. We like to play with masculinity and femininity. I can wear objects like this or my wife can wear it too. It’s a playful approach using texture, color and shape.”

The Greek designer is also well-known for his approach to textiles. For aptform he used material such as pigskin and integrating leather and knitwear. This fascination with textiles and feeling has carried on to his new collection and pieces like a simple bomber jacket have hidden elements such as a hand-painted lining and are made with stretchable material. He says, “So we can give this garment movement. It’s a bomber jacket but it has this athletic feeling. And at the same time it’s casual and elegant. And it has a lot of technical points.”

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The atelier and gallery boutique is by appointment only and the last few weeks have seen buyers and clients flock to Todoroki to see the new collection by a designer who has really focused on his approach and aesthetic personality. The move to Todoroki seems to have had a profound influence on him as a designer and as a person. “We moved here last June. The space truly represents what we are doing. It’s industrial and natural. It’s exactly what our brand philosophy is about. My personality, my Greek heritage, European background and Japanese lifestyle.”

Michail Atelier + Lifestyle Gallery Boutique

#102 1-1-5 Nakamachi Setagaya Tokyo Japan 158-0091

Written by
Paul McInnes
Austin James Rea