Surrounded by NYC’s diverse culture and vibrant community, although COMI initially aspired to become a singing coach, the inspiring environment led her to venture into the world of fashion, giving birth to her own brand, Cycle by myob. Following the experiences of childbirth and child-rearing, she began contemplating environmental issues. In her inaugural collection, she demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability, emphasizing recycling, upcycling, the use of recycled polyester, and a reliance on renewable energy.
Can you introduce us yourself and let us know what motivated you to start your brand “Cycle by myob” in New York initially?
COMI: I work as an esthetician in my hometown and am also a singer. I decided to go to NYC with a voice teacher for singing training, but I gave up soon.
When I gave up on being a singer and was looking for a new life, the first thing that came to mind was fashion, which I have always loved. When that happened, I decided to do something about it, so I bought a single-lens reflex camera and did various fashion shoots to create my work. My friend, a hair and makeup artist, and I came up with the theme and art direction, then hunted for models on the roadside, styled them, applied hair and makeup, and did everything from photography to retouching and collage. When we created and wore our ideal accessories during styling, the response was better than we expected, and we decided to sell them on our web shop, which led to the establishment of <M.Y.O.B NYC>.
Living in New York for four or five years has had a big influence on the way I make things today. The area of Brooklyn where I lived at the time was a place with a lot of Rastamen and a strong reggae culture. What I saw and felt there is still deeply rooted in me. I walked around New York and saw various street cultures. There were plenty of sources of inspiration everywhere: kids on the street, people I passed by, street art, vintage shops, weekend flea markets, bookstores, etc.
It was decided that Patricia Field’s shop, Patricia Field ArtFashion Gallery, which would later become a costume designer and stylist, would handle it, so I went to the United States. When I think back to my daily life at that time, I spent my days making accessories at home.
Why did you name your brand “Cycle by myob”, and what is the aesthetic behind?
COMI: While undergoing the experience of childbirth and raising children, I delved into profound contemplation about environmental issues. Coincidentally, during that period, I received an offer to participate in an interview discussing environmental concerns, and it felt as though a crucial piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. Subsequently, I began pondering how I could enhance the communication of environmental issues through the lens of fashion, prompting me to engage in daily research. I resolved to initiate action with what I could readily influence and crafted my inaugural collection with a dedicated focus on recycling, upcycling, recycled polyester, and renewable energy.
The muse for my debut collection emerged from solar lanterns by Sonnen glass. These lanterns, constructed with a commitment to fair trade, are equipped with a solar panel on the lid that harnesses sunlight and transforms it into luminance. The fair trade ethos heavily influenced the creation of these lanterns. Expanding upon this concept, I developed a collection utilizing fabrics crafted from recycled plastic bottles, repurposed old garments, and fashioned apparel that could incorporate solar panels. The central theme of the second collection revolves around ‘earth energy.’ In alignment with the spirit of Mother Earth, eco-friendly fabrics and natural dyeing were seamlessly integrated.
Can you give us three words that can describe Cycle by myob?
COMI: Reincarnation, Cycle, Love.
We can see in the work the collision of East and West, as well as tradition and trend. How do you discover inspiration, and what is your process for conceptualizing each collection?
COMI: Each collection has a concept: ‘earth energy,’ ‘skin ship,’ ‘cosmic spiral,’ ‘blue utopia,’ ‘shamanka,’ and ‘midnight cowboy.’ My feelings at that moment serve as my inspiration.
I envision a future where environmental problems are more alleviated than they are now—where all living things live comfortably, nature is beautiful and peaceful, and each person is filled with more love. Excessive development and evolution come with many sacrifices. It doesn’t need to be any more convenient. We could reduce the amount of food displayed in supermarkets. I don’t want us to catch a lot of fish. I don’t want animals to be killed in large numbers for meat. Please don’t cut down the trees. I aspire to coexist with the earth and living things in a more minimal way because humans are not number one. I don’t want to cause any more trouble to the earth.
What are some of the challenges you encountered while building your brand?
COMI: Funds, operating power, and continuous energy.
Do you have any advice for our readers who are seeking to ﬁnd a way to start their own brand or career in the fashion industry?
COMI: Initiating and maintaining a brand demands energy! Give it your utmost focus! I believe starting a brand is now more accessible than in the past, so you won’t know until you try!
Initiating and maintaining a brand demands energy!
Text by Yiyao Zhang