Being an insta-famous fashion student in Tokyo is a dream many aspiring fashion designers have. Lucky for Instagram star Naomi Nikola, aka @naomeoww, she gets to live that dream everyday!
Naomi’s first few years on Instagram were like everyone else’s—she posted whatever she felt like whenever she felt like. Having grown up in the age of the Internet, Naomi took to expressing herself in digital spaces like a duck to water. As she discovered her personal style, expressing herself in more creative ways became a major goal. “My clothes [spoke] louder than I ever could and I knew I had so much more to give” says Naomi. “I never thought that I would grow to love [connecting with others] as much as I do now, and I definitely never thought I could inspire so many people along the way.”
“Just because I’m baby doesn’t mean
I can’t be scary when I need to be!”
Naturally drawn to combining clashing concepts, Naomi incorporates a number of eclectic references into her style: grunge, larme kei, e-girl, and techwear are just a few of the genres she draws inspiration from. Describing her personal style as “soft tones with sharp edges”, pastel colour palettes, hardware, and romanticism with a dash of darkness are key components for this Japanese street style maven. And thanks to her skillful styling, Naomi’s feed (a wash of pale lavenders and lilacs) is both sweet and tough. “Don’t be afraid to be soft, and it’s okay to want to add a [little] edge… Take that creative leap and express your uniqueness.”
Of course, softness does have its drawbacks—especially for public figures. “As a person suffering from mental health issues…, I was way too self-conscious to the point that I would push myself too hard,” says Naomi. To avoid spiralling down into a negative headspace, Naomi suggests getting used to the fact that you can’t please everyone. “Just be yourself anyway! Take the criticism if needed and make use of it to…flourish”.
“Japan is definitely different from…back home”, Naomi admits when asked about her reasons for choosing to study fashion in Japan. “There’s just so much stimulation around the city, and time seems to go much faster.” When it comes to life and school, Naomi confesses that learning how to manage her time was as essential in the work-focused Japan as rest and recuperation. “Learn your limits, and [make a plan]—it’s okay to have a lot of fun, but you have to be responsible about it too!”
As a designer, Naomi’s work stands out from the herd because of her Filipino flair. Growing up with limited options for Filipino-inspired clothes that appealed to an increasingly fashion-conscious Naomi meant that designing clothes that she, herself, wanted to wear was an imperative. Her Filipino pride is easily seen in her incorporation of the Filipiniana sleeve into her designs, but Naomi also admits that she’s got a way to go in perfecting her craft. “I’m still learning…so I don’t have a fixed [creative] process just yet.”
Naomi hopes to establish a lifestyle brand after graduation. Her Instagram following of 61k has played a huge role in that, she admits. “One of the things that keeps me going is the people that support me”. And the ultimate goal of Naomi’s brand? To create a space where people of any race, gender, and background can come together and inspire confidence in each other.
It goes without saying that Naomi is, first and foremost, a champion for the community and one to watch!
Written by Cora.
Featured image courtesy of naominikola.com, photo editing by @nimbus.jelly.