For the Record: Daniel Mitchell
For the Record is The Steel Crew’s series of dialogue with leaders and up-and-comers in the fashion, arts, and entertainment industries. We are the inquiring minds, and we want to know more…don’t you?
This week’s For The Record, we speak to Daniel Mitchell, creative assistant of Oki-ni. Some of you guys may not be familiar with what he does behind the scenes, but I’m sure most of you know him as the literal face of the online retailer as Oki-ni’s model. This interview has been a long time coming since it’s quite difficult coordinating a correspondence from the U.S. to London, especially taking the time difference into account. But what you see here is the result of persistence and follow-through and we’re glad that we all worked together to make it work. Daniel Mitchell lets us in on what sets Oki-ni apart and what they have planned for their music project.
The Steel Closet: Okay we know how awesome Oki-Ni is to us…but tell us a little bit about what you do at Oki-Ni and why you think Oki-Ni is the shit.
Daniel Mitchell: I’m glad that you think we are the shit! Ha!
…Well I guess people are really feeling what we are doing because we are the only ones doing what we are doing in terms of what we offer.
We are just going out finding solid product that we buzz off… have never seen before and wanna wear ourselves. We then share this with people through our website.
We have always been into the kind of brands that we buy and the style of products that we sell. Oki-ni is just a great platform for us to go out and put this all in one place and build this style into a concept. There’s nothing better than finding a brand that you have never seen before that blows you away and you need to buy, this is something that we are always looking for and there’s other people out there too that have a real need for that.
Even with our mainline brands we always buy the key bits from the runway or the “out there” bits that usually stores wouldn’t be able to retail. There are kids out there looking for those bits and I’m sure the designer loves to see those bits showcased rather than the safer options that so many stores only buy into.
We have really built up some loyal hard core fans that are totally into what we are doing. Quite often people contact us and blow our minds with some of the things they are into, the archive they are collecting, the brands they are digging etc. Building up this connection with people like this all over the world really makes it all worth while doing.
Outside of oki-ni we throw parties in London and DJ all over the place and like to enjoy ourselves you know – I think this side of us is reflected in what we do at oki-ni.
Oh… and I’m Daniel Mitchell the creative assistant, I do some of the buying and I’m heading up our new music venture which I will tell you all about. I also do the modeling for the site – yes that’s me!….. ha!
TSC: Who came up with the idea for the artists/music section, and how have people responded to it?
Daniel Mitchell: The music concept was my idea. Its just kinda happened naturally I guess. I run a night in London called BAD PASSION and ive been DJing for some years and have been lucky enough to play all over the world. We are all heavily into music, buy and collect records and I wanted to introduce that element into what we do at oki-ni. If you look at the site and the products we sell it’s a true reflection of what we are into, so delving into music just seemed like such a natural thing to do for us.
So far we have had a really good reaction to it, people have contacted us loving the concept and are really into the fact that we are now offering music but doing it in our own way rather than just selling records and general releases. I really wanted to do something personal with this and getting the artists involved is about as personal as you can get – it all is born out of love and passion.
At the moment it’s still pretty small but this will organically grow, and by the end of the year, there will be a full music website within oki-ni offering all kind of oddball musical-related products.
TSC: How have artists reacted to it so far?
Daniel Mitchell: Yeah, all the artists that we are getting on board are really feeling it and excited about working on some cool projects. It’s a nice way for them to express themselves in different art forms you know. They have been given the freedom and a platform to create things that they would probably never have the chance to produce anywhere else. Nobody else in music retail is doing anything like this.
TSC: Do you see Oki-Ni doing actual collaborations with the artists, maybe exclusive apparel stuff? Or what do you see in the future for that section?
Daniel Mitchell: We will constantly be working closely with the artists working together in producing items that they want to produce. There are already talks of people wanting to produce certain items of clothing
In the future, I guess the concept and the content will just naturally grow and constantly evolve. We are starting up a record label as an output for some of the exclusive music we will be selling which will all be produced in beautiful packaging and artwork. We will also be bringing a lot of music over from Japan – there’s some truly amazing artist, DJs and bands in Japan that don’t get any exposure over here so hopefully we will become a bit of a source for bringing some of this over.
We really want to bring back the beauty and the sexiness of buying music through artwork and small details – I think this has been totally lost in the modern day of downloads. There’s nothing better than an old record sleeve with some crazy art work that makes you think “what the f*ck were those guys tripping on ” you know.
TSC: How do the music and artists fit in with or reflect the whole Oki-Ni mission?
Daniel Mitchell: I guess the music and the artists are a way of us expressing ourselves. If you look at all the clothing and product that we sell it is brands that we are heavily into, clothes that we wear, and things that we love. Look at the artists and the music and it’s the same – the music that we play, listen to, dance to and so one.
TSC: How do you select artists? Can I suggest The Gaslight Anthem, pretty much the next huuuuge thing in music?
Daniel Mitchell: I haven’t heard of those guys but ill look forward to checking them out….
When selecting artists it’s just about what we are feeling or certain people that we are into. We aren’t necessarily looking for “the next big thing”… we like to keep an open mind which in music and most things in life is very important if you want to progress and learn about new things.
The artists selected will be from numerous genres but will all come from the same feeling. That is what we are trying to capture and something that hopefully will be reflected as we gradually build it up and introduce new artists.
TSC: Are there any “dream” artists that you guys wish you could put on the section?
There’s so many pioneering artists that I would really love to work with but I’m happy with the artists that we will be getting together with and let it organically grow in our own little way. There’s been some bigger artists that want to get involved which are cool but sometimes you can lose that personal feeling – I’d rather have people involved making things from their hearts.
TSC: Thanks for letting us interview you, Daniel. It was an honor.
Special thanks to Charlotte for also making this happen!