In conversation with Kemio
Interview by Jana Letonja
Kemio is Japan’s most preeminent digital talent. He has fastly found his footing in both the American and Global fashion scene and has become a global front row fixture for every designer and label such as Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Coach, Thom Browne and Prada to name a few.
Kemio landed his first US Global Campaign alongside Emily Ratajkowski for the recent Michael Kors x ellesee campaign that debuted in May. In addition, he just walked the Runway as a model for Diesel.
Kemio, you quickly found your footing in both American and Global fashion scene. What do you love the most about fashion?
Fashion is a big part of my life and is a huge way in which I express myself. As long as I could remember, I would always pick what I wanted to wear. Whether going to the school or out. I love expressing my personality through fashion. It’s like magic power that everyone can use.
Recently you landed your first US Global campaign alongside Emily Ratajkowski for Michael Kors x ellesee campaign. You’re now featured alongside Marc Jacobs in the new HEAVEN by Marc Jacobs photoshoot that was released this Spring. How was this experience?
Honestly, it’s just surreal because I’ve always dreamt of being in a fashion campaign when I was living in Japan. I actually printed out the campaign photos of HEAVEN by Marc Jacobs and framed it. It was such a special moment for me and this was the first of many.
full look MOLLY GODDARD
bracelet TIFFANY AND CO
You have also walked the runway for many fashion brands. How does walking the runway compare to your previous experience of sitting front row at a fashion show?
I definitely want to walk more shows given the opportunity. Attending a fashion show is also an amazing experience that I always feel so grateful for. Going to the fitting and getting dressed by a brand, seeing a new collection in person, it’s something that I always want to be a part of. I also want to start making more fashion videos on my YouTube channel in the future since I am lucky enough to experience amazing fashion moments first-hand.
jacket & pants LOUIS VUITTON
sweater TOM FORD
necklace PEARL OCTOPUSSY
In the summer of 2021 you were an authoritative voice, when you partnered with NYC based fashion brand Private Policy, collaborating on a T-Shirt where 100 % of the proceeds went to the AAPI community. How did this collaboration come about? Why did it mean so much to you?
This project meant so much to me. Growing up in Japan and moving to the US has opened my eyes to other issues in the world. Sharing this on my platform was important to me because I wanted to shed light on the issue. It was hard for my followers to understand because we don’t have hate towards our community back home. I was really connected to this project and it was an honor working with Siying Qu and Haoran Li, the co-founders of Private Policy,and Michelle K. Hanabusa who’s the founder and Creative Director or Uprisers.
jacket ACNE STUDIOS
jeans JW ANDERSON
sunglasses GENTLE MONSTER
Why do you think more brands should be doing the same, giving back to the community?
A lot of luxury brands have such a huge amount of loyal customers in the Asia market, so why wouldn’t they want togive back and make us feel supportive.
When you moved from Japan to Los Angeles in 2016, you didn’t know a word of English. How hard was that for you? Did you attend any classes to learn the language?
It was definitely the hardest and funniest thing I’ve ever had to overcome. I’m so glad that I did it. I was enrolled in an English language school for about 2 years in Los Angeles. I started learning from ABCD to EFG and now I can get into a fight with a stranger randomly on a street in New York and I can beat them with my mouth. The ability of speaking English has definitely given me so much more opportunity for my career and connections to meet new people.
top OUR LEGACY
jacket & jeans DIESEL
sunglasses SHEVOKE X COCO
How challenging was it in general to get accustomed to a completely different culture and a new country?
I’m still learning social norms for sure. But even before I moved to the US my biggest obsession was pop culture in the US. I always listened to US music and read celebrity gossip magazines. It helped me with my love of the US because I knew some of the pop culture.
You are living the American Dream, which has only amplified your presence in Asia. How would you describe you imagined the American dream before you moved to the US?
Katy Perry. That’s it.
full look KENZO
What are your goals and plans for the future?
I always get so hesitant when I get these types of questions. Being in this industry, I get asked about future plans a lot and I constantly feel like I need to have new plans or goals at every single interview. I really don’t have any big plans for my future, I just want to be a star. I always like to stay in the present and just go with my intuition. But I really want to start an acting career in the US.
talent KEMIO @kemio
photographer TYLER PATRICK KENNY @tylerpatrickkenny
stylist TABITHA SANCHEZ @tabitharsanchez
styling assistant LAN ELMOWITZ @elmozworlddd
groomer AKINA SHIMIZU @magnese_akina
production LOUIE DIAZ @iamsocialadam
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja