Studio Visit
adeam designer hanako maeda

How Emerging Label ADEAM Became a Fashion Week Favorite

Japanese designer Hanako Maeda is *definitely* one to watch.

By: Leah Faye Cooper
Photography: Alec Kugler

We’re currently in the midst of the New York Fashion Week Spring 2019 season, but let’s rewind for a moment to Fall 2018 collections presented back in February. On a cold overcast day, the ADEAM show at The Beekman Hotel was a bright sport. For starters, hors d’oeuvres were being served along with champagne and hot apple cider (food is always a nice touch). Then, of course, were the clothes—silk bias cut dresses, a stunning houndstooth overcoat, and fluid wide-leg pants—which were a nod to Japanese women of the 1920s, many of whom celebrated newly-found financial and social independence through fashion. What also stood out though, was a very chic and noticeably impressed couple sitting front row, the parents of ADEAM designer Hanako Maeda.

“My family is in the fashion business in Japan,” Madea told us during a recent visit to her studio in Chelsea. “My mother is the designer and my father is on the business side, and they’ve had their brand for forty years now. Growing up I would go to factories with them and go to my mother’s atelier when she couldn’t find a babysitter [laughs]. That really nurtured my passion.”



Born in Tokyo, Maeda was brought up between there and NYC and studied art history at Columbia University before launching her label in 2013. Whereas Fall 2018 was inspired by an era nearly a decade in the past, Spring 2019, which Maeda showed yesterday in the space that once housed legendary Manhattan nightclub The Tunnel, was a homage to a more recent time.”

“For spring I was really inspired by nightclub disco culture,” she said. “Nightclubs and discos in the ‘80s and early-’90s were a place for people to really dress us and express their identity through fashion. They were also a place where people from different walks of life and different and ethnicities and cultures came together and mingled and created a new culture. I feel like that’s something that needs to be celebrated more.”

Ahead, a look at the ADEAM Spring 2019 collection as it was in progress, the standout fall pieces you can shop now, and Maeda on the early stages of her brand, dressing Anne Hathaway, and that time she interned at Vogue.

“During my junior year [of college] I interned at Vogue and that was my first experience working in the fashion industry and seeing how much care goes into creating high-end designer pieces.”

“I do have a traditional background in the sense that I grew up in the industry, but also I have a different point of view because my course of study was mainly in art and I took a lot of classes in literature and history. A lot of my inspiration is from things that external, outside of fashion, and I think that makes it a little more interesting.”

“In the beginning I was more focused in individual pieces and I was working with patternmaker Nicolas Caito. I wanted to perfect the tuxedo jacket or the white shirt—something that was very iconic and classic—and that was the beginning of my brand.”

“As I was working on my collection I really wanted to focus on my Japanese heritage, and I realized that they’re aren’t a lot of young Japanese designers right now. A lot of the established people are of an older generation, so I really wanted to bring light to japanese youth culture and what Japan is beyond samurais and geishas and all of the stuff people are normally exposed to.”

“For fall I was inspired by the 1920s and especially the modern girls in Japan. In the 1920s there was a new surgence of working class women so they had a newfound independence because they had their own jobs and they could choose to wear what they wanted instead of listening to their husbands or their families; they could incorporate new ideas into their wardrobes. They mixed western clothing with traditional Japanese pieces, so they would wear a flapper slip dress and then a kimono on top as a coat.”

“We develop a lot of our own fabrics. This striped jacquard is one of the originals we developed in conjunction with the mills that we work with. We mainly work with Japanese mills, which I think distinguishes us from other young brands in the city.”

“Another element of ADEAM aside from taking inspiration from Japan is fusing art and functionality. It’s really important for me to create clothing that’s visually interesting but not constricting. I want to make sure that a busy woman who has a busy lifestyle feels like it’s easy to live her everyday life in the clothes.”

“I don’t want to create anything super delicate that you need to be careful about or is really difficult to take care of and you have to send to the dry cleaner all the time.”

“I create the jewelry mainly for my stores in Tokyo and also for the runway shows, but we haven’t really been selling it in the U.S. Linda Fargo came in for an appointment because [Bergdorf Goodman] carries our clothes on the sixth floor and she loved it. She was like, ‘Oh, can I have it as an exclusive for the Linda Store?’ and I was like ‘Sure—no problem!’ It was an amazing moment.”

“It was super exciting to create a custom dress for Anne Hathaway, and it was for when she spoke to the UN for International Women’s Day. Women’s rights is one of the causes that I really believe in as well, so it was a perfect moment and she looked amazing.”

“It’s so difficult to grow a business in fashion right now and because my parents are in the industry, they know that. In the beginning my dad was like, ‘I think you should go into finance, it’s much more stable.’ My parents were surprised [by my decision] in the beginning, but now that my business has grown and we sell to forty different retailers world wide I think they’re really happy and they’re always excited to support me during fashion week. After being in business five years they think, ‘Ok, she’s come to a point where we can be happy about this [laughs].”

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