New Stockist | The MKI Miyuki-Zoku Store in Leeds
Champ is stocked in over 23 international cities, and in each location, we find the magazine is sold in places with people that share a like-mindedness. Like the magazine, the stockists are also only places we recommend our readers to visit. They’re curated in the same way that the magazine is, and it’s this like-minded circle that allows us to trust the people that surround us. We’re always on the lookout for out-of-the-box retail concepts, and always open to different ways of discovering them.
We came across MKI Miyuki-Zoku store through our mutual friend Nehjat’s instagram. Nehjat lives in London, but was visiting Leeds over the Christmas break, when he unintentionally exposed us to this incredible store.
Once online the MKI site, it is informative, and just like the clothes they stock, the website is useful and celebrates simplicity. Their brand list caught my eye, as did the monochrome tones of the classic pieces they carry under their MKI name. Everything is curated to a tee.
Their English-Japanese philosophical connection drew us in instantly, but it was their hand-knitted in Scotland sweaters that had us hooked.
After a few swift, efficient emails from Vik, the founder of MKI, we knew we had to find out more and share this hidden gem with you. Please check out their online store, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Vik, please tell us about MKI Store, how it began, and who is part of the team?
The MKI store was something that was born out of a life-long passion for menswear and a long lasting career in retail. I am an interior designer by trade, but when I found the industry incredibly hard to penetrate back in 2008, I turned to my second love. I’d moved back to Leeds form spending 5 years down south, and it took roughly 6 months to get the store open from concept. The team is very small, consisting of only a few. We like to keep things as close to home as possible, and most of our projects are done in house, from webstore/lookbook photoshoots to marketing and advertising.
How did you come up with the name Miyuki-Zoku for the store and what does it mean?
We went through quite a lot of names before we chose MKI. Most with no real concept, just things that sounded cool, yet irrelevant. We then started to look at Japanese culture, that of which I’d admired for a long time. We came across a youth tribe called the Miyuki-Zoku, their style was strictly Japanese Ivy League. We kind of hit the jackpot as soon as we’d seen them. Ivy League has connotations in most of menswear, and it can be as little as a roll of your tee shirt sleeve, or cuff of your denim. This was our concept. We knew people wouldn’t remember the full name so we simply took the M,K and I out of Miyuki. There you have it!
I was personally drawn to the store because of the monochrome tones of the clothing you sell, in addition to the shapes – they are all classics, but created with high-quality fabrics. Where are most of your items made? And do you design them in-house?
Yeh, we tend to stick to a muted colour palette, generally consisting of black, white, grey and navy. We find these colours are extremely easy to fit in any wardrobe. We also like to stick to classic shapes and designs, with simple detailing and minimal branding. Our main ethos is price point. We pride ourselves on producing garments that are affordable with no compromise on the styling and quality. There is definitely a gap in the market for affordable menswear, without going to the highstreet. All our garments are designed in house, and we are more project based as opposed to operating on seasonal collections. This works in our favour as we simply release new product as and when we choose, without being dictated by the fashion calendar. For each project we do, we choose the right people to work with, for instance, some leather products – India, shirting – UK, sweats – US, knitwear – Scotland. We love working with different countries, it makes our job a lot more enjoyable!
Who would you say, is the loyal MKI customer?
We have quite a strong following in Leeds, however being a relatively small city, it’s not hard to acheive. On the other hand, our webstore sells worldwide, we send tonnes of product to Japan, which is quite ironic, as we get a lot of our inspiration from there! Another big customer is Denmark, and we love their aesthetic too, so it’s great to be appreciated in these kind of places. We really can’t pinpoint a specific type of customer, as we think we appeal to quite a diverse range. But we much prefer it like that, rather than to be boxed into a category.
Your own label, MKI Black is also stocked internationally. Can you tell us more about your international stockists, and more about the Black line?
MKI BLACK is a sub label of MKI. It is essentially our more premium outerwear label. The idea of this was to pick a certain field of interest and focus more heavily into it. Outerwear was a given as it’s easily the most challenging of garments to work on. MKI BLACK was also introduced to be set up for wholesale. Our fist stockist being the Hypebeast web store. We have recently clinched Maps in Japan, and Hide & Seek in Hong Kong. We also have a massive stockist in the UK coming very soon. We’re keeping things tight and select. There’s no rush, we simply want to work with good quality partners where we can see a longer relationship developing.
Tell us about Leeds. What keeps you there, and what is it about the city that you love?
This is easy. Leeds is home, and there’s no place like home! We know the people and the city inside out, it’s just a perfect fit, especially to set up in business. After spending 5 or so years in London, it just made sense to bring our experiences back here. As much as I love the big smoke, I feel I’ve had my time there, and I always feel grounded when I get back up north.
If we were to visit for a day, where would you recommend us to go?
We get quite a lot of our suppliers coming over to see us and we always start of at the store, the building we’re in is an iconic place in the area, so it’s a great place to begin. As mentioned before, Leeds’ city isn’t that big, so it doesn’t take long to do a quick walk around town, scoping out the other independents and cultural spots. There’s a plethora of places to eat and drink too (too many to name). However my favourite place to drink is the Adelphi pub. Located not too far from us, so no doubt we’d end up sat in there!
THE MKI MIYUKI-ZOKU STORE