Plans and aspirations across the world have been indefinitely halted due to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Most notably, the highly-anticipated Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were rescheduled, making it only the fourth time the event has been interrupted – the earlier cases being once for World War I and twice during World War II. Indeed, we’re facing unprecedented times but perhaps we’re prepared more now than ever. We can thank technology and an ever-evolving community of collaborative partnerships for a sense of solidarity and camaraderie during these challenges; Oakley the latest to reveal an inspiring partnership with artist, Meguru Yamaguchi.
Japanese-born and Brooklyn-based, Meguru Yamaguchi has a concrete place in the industry for his “uniquely chaotic, vibrantly intense and visually robust” work. Counting commissions from the likes of Nike, Audi, and Stussy, the lauded creative known for his sculptural paintings has teamed up with Oakley for collaborative eyewear, dubbed the Kokoro Collection. “Kokoro,” a Japanese word meaning “heart; mind; spirit,” unifies athletes of all abilities, professional and everyday alike. Embodying the brilliance and beauty of humanity, the collection aims to inspire a sense of belonging and community in a time where the need has never been greater.
But what makes this collaboration different from Meguru’s past work? Speaking to the artist through an interpreter, he says, “The biggest difference is the staff who contributed to this collaboration. The reason is, Oakley staff are from different backgrounds – the Head of Marketing is a former Olympian in track and field – so all the staff at the headquarters have a passion for sports. That’s the biggest different about the brands.
Even the conversation [we] had was quite different from other brands, the passion for each work, what they think is very powerful and that was inspiring in this collaboration.”
Using his own signature hue of blue as well as cherry blossom pink – a nod to his Japanese heritage – Yamaguchi created a single artwork inspired by his time at the Oakley Californian headquarters. Albeit challenging from transitioning from canvas to eyewear, the designer worked with Oakley technicians to create a custom machine from scratch that would replicate his iconic brushstrokes onto the thin arms of the glasses. “Each piece is quite different because there are natural designs for each [style], Yamaguchi explains to ICON. “[I am] hoping to provoke positivity in each athlete’s heart during this uncertain time so that’s why I chose positive colour and pop colour in the signature collection.”
Featuring Oakley’s most coveted and technical eyewear, Flak® 2.0 XL, Radar® EV Path®, Radarlock® Asia Fit, Flak 2.0 Asia Fit, Sutro, Frogskins®, Frogskins Asia Fit, EVZeroTMBlades, Flight Jacket, JawbreakerTM and Airbrake® MX goggles, the collection is extensive and inclusive to all. Each piece from the collection come equipped with Oakley’s leading PrizmTM Lens Technology, designed to enhance colour and contrast so athletes can see more detail.
With the launch, Oakley pledges to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organisation – powered by the United Nation Fund. Oakley has committed a $200,000 donation, sharing the love to support the organisation’s global work in helping countries prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And when the Olympic torch is ablaze once again, you can bet Meguru Yamaguchi will be watching the “skateboarding and BMX”. “I always gain inspiration from these street sports,” he concludes in our Skype call. There is more to come from Oakley and its collaborative effort with Meguru Yamaguchi. Next year, a special edition t-shirt will release and with a sneak peek of the design, I can attest it will be highly coveted.
For more on the Kokoro Collection, visit the Oakley website here.