Are you a French fashion fanatic but can’t seem to find the time or money to book a flight, fly 5,000+ miles and scour the cobblestone streets of Paris? Mais pas pleurer! Newly launched, San Francisco-based online boutique Mikimoiselle is supplying stateside French fashion lovers with a well-edited shop featuring exclusive and hard-to-find independent designers hailing from France and Japan.
Raised in a bi-cultural home (her mother is Japanese and her father is American), founder and self-proclaimed Francophile Miki Carlton grew up in Japan and dreamed of working cross-culturally, and now she’s doing just that, searching far and wide to find the most unique boutiques in some of the best fashion cities in the world and curate them in one online shop.
The site name is a tribute to Carlton’s love all things French-Japanese fusion which combines the French “mademoiselle,” the French word for “miss” or “lady,” and Carlton’s first name, Miki.
To keep the merchandise original and fresh, Carlton takes several buying trips per year, with new deliveries arriving monthly and seasonally. The site currently features Fall/Winter 2011 designs by Antoine & Lili, Madeva, TURBO:wear, Pas Touch Douce, Lorina Balteanu and, coming soon, Un Jour Un Sac.
We sat down with Carlton for a brief chat about the launch, what she’s wearing right now, what she’s up to in 2012.
Your site just launched, how does it feel?
Very exciting! It’s taken about a year and half to get to the site launch, and it feels really good to have reached this milestone. Now I’ve entered into the next phase and my focus has radically shifted from “site launch” to “marketing, branding and sales.” The initial feedback has been very positive, which I am both humbled and motivated by.
Can you tell me a little bit about the journey to get here?
It’s been a very organic process, from the initial inspiration to sourcing brands to launching the web site. Five years ago, if someone told me I’d be running my own online clothing boutique, I wouldn’t have believed them. But I just followed my instincts, my love of fashion and bringing cultures together, and voila! Here I am. Of course there was a steep learning curve around starting a business, import/export issues, photography, ecommerce, taxes, etc., but have loved building something truly from scratch as well as a whole new community of designers, artists, (web) developers, photographers and other boutique owners.
Your online boutique focuses on artisans and small designers specifically from Japan and France. What is it that draws you to Japanese and French fashion?
I grew up in Japan, and know that culturally, the French and Japanese have a lot more in common than one would think. Aside from the pride they both have in their country’s history, the French and Japanese both love art, fashion, food, and natural beauty. Many years ago when I first visited Europe, I was immediately struck by how much more similar Europe was (than the U.S.) to Japan. When it comes to fashion, the attention to detail you find in clothing and jewelry coming out of Japan and France is amazing, whether it’s the fabric, stitching, pattern or buttons. Take hosiery for example. While in the U.S. it can be an afterthought, in France and Japan, you can find tons of great hosiery both in department stores and stand-alone boutiques that are works of art!
What will we catch you wearing this season?
It’s coat and hat season, and I love wearing my array of them — I love every single one I have and have collected them from near and far. With several of the coats, people often stop me in the street to ask where I got them. And adding a hat is a perfect way to accessorize your look this fall/winter. As I mentioned with hosiery, outerwear is something that should never be an afterthought. Be chic and get yourself a super stylish coat (or hat) — a little something different can go a long way.
Mikimoiselle will be hopping offline to show off her goods I.R.L. at Appel & Frank on Wed. December 7th. Details below:
Photography courtesy of Mikimoiselle
More San Francisco shopping…