AMIRI by Mike Amiri
Interview with Mike Amiri by AMY THORSETENSON
Photography courtesy of KCD Worldwide Media
Much like his hometown of Los Angeles, fashion designer Mike Amiri can’t be contained in one box. He started his career by creating stage costumes for iconic rockers like Steven Tyler and Axel Rose, but his style can’t be boiled down to anything as simple as rock ’n’ roll. His clothing takes the rebellious spirit of Los Angeles and combines it with the luxury of high fashion to create clothing that is truly unique. Mike blends streetwear and glamour better than anyone else in the business, and he’s not done reinventing himself either. His upcoming 2020 collection is a bohemian tribute to Woodstock, yet again interpreting the vibe of Los Angeles in his own stylish way.
With his acclaimed fashion line AMIRI, Mike dives into every part of the design process. From mood boards and sketching to visiting factories to hands-on experimentation with materials, Mike is truly an artist in every sense of the word. But he never takes himself too seriously. He even installed a basketball court next to the design room in his huge downtown LA headquarters (a former warehouse, showing again how adept he is at putting a little polish on the spirit of LA). Whenever he needs a little inspiration, he’ll play a pickup game with his employees or with his buddy Odell Beckham Jr. of the NFL.
“I never look at rock ’n’ roll as an aesthetic connected to just rock ’n’ roll music,” Mike says. “The culture now has blurred the lines to everything... Odell Beckham dances on the field has a long curly mohawk, and people scream his name. He’s a rock star, you know?” AMIRI reflects these blurred lines as much as it reflects the City of Angels.
His fashion is sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Neiman Marcus, and he plans to open a flagship store on Rodeo Drive later this year. We were lucky enough to interview Mike about his fashion and what inspires him.
Can you describe the Spring/Summer 2020 in one sentence?
This Spring Summer 2020 season represents a luxurious tribute to the bohemian styles of Woodstock, showcased through elements of tailored suiting and a soft pastel palette.
Any particular piece that really speaks to the collection as a whole?
The suiting and silhouettes, particularly the tailored jacket and flared trousers, really speak to the overall elevated and soft mood of the collection.
What’s your creative process like every fashion week? And was this process different for the SS20 collection?
The creative process for the SS20 collection was the same as my process for previous shows. It starts with a mood board, selecting colors, producing sketches, and building upon the proportions of the overall collection. I spent a lot of time in Italy again this season – visiting our factories and making sure the pieces were produced with the highest quality.
How did SS20 differ from the previous collections and how did it showcase the brands?
The SS20 collection represents a much brighter and softer approach to the rock n’ roll aesthetic tied to the brand’s DNA.
Will SS20 be the first collection to hit the first flagship store in Rodeo Drive?
Do you see any changes in the future of how the fashion industry does business?
In today’s industry, there is more transparency between brands and the consumers, and this will continue to be the case in the future. There is a real opportunity for brands of any size to really connect with the people buying the product. It pushes brands to think outside the box more and modernize how they present their collections and grow their businesses.
From the start to where you are now, what has been one of the biggest highlights?
This last SS20 show was one of the biggest highlights so far – it really was the result of what I have been working towards these past years – the synergy of all elements tied to AMIRI’s core. The collection and runway show really speak to where AMIRI is going as a brand.
How the average day for Mike Amiri? Any routines or strategies that keep you balanced and focused?
My day often consists of a combination of sketching, choosing fabrics and materials, styling, reviewing visual content, and brand communications. I am also extremely hands on so often times I will be doing the same types of artisan experimentation I did when I first started. I always make time to play a game of basketball as well now that we have a court right next to the design room.
From being a one-man team, how many people are now part of the dream? Any particular trait you look at when hiring new team members?
Our team has grown to 55 people this past year. The traits I look for when hiring new team members is passion and drive. You can learn a lot of things with hard work, but you have to have the passion behind it to succeed.
Where do you see AMIRI in 5 years, what does that look like? Similarly, what is next from Mike Amiri?
In five years, I hope that AMIRI will be the global destination for authentic rock n’ roll luxury clothing from California. What’s next for me to is to keep working hard and building on this dream of mine.
As an Iranian-American kid growing up in the iconic Hollywood of the 90s, Mike was always more interested in skateboarding and playing guitar than in school. He made his first piece of clothing—a denim jacket with a Motley Crue patch sewed onto the lapel—at the young age of 13.
With runway shows in Paris and celebrity clients like Jay-Z and Brad Pitt, Mike has come a long way from distressing jeans and making costumes for rock stars in his basement. His newest collection is another step forward and it looks like this “rock ‘n’ roll designer” is going to keep delivering surprises with his luxury fashion for years to come.