get to know: Michelle Watson of MICHI

If you’re a lady like me who doesn’t think that the early 90s Gaultier cage aesthetic and comfort should be mutually exclusive (liking bondage-inspired fashion doesn’t mean you want to actually feel tied-up all day) you’ll probably be as crazy over MICHI bras as I am. Stylistically vanguard but also soft and stretchy, MICHI bras are so versatile that they can be worn while you’re sweating it out at the gym, stretching it out on the yoga mat, or going out for the night (MICHI bras look especially killer under a sheer black shirt for a provocative Blonde Ambition Madonna vibe.) Michelle Watson, the force behind MICHI, grew up near the Canadian Rockies as an active outdoor sports lover with a big soft spot for Fashion Television. After graduating from Parsons, Watson designed for several big name labels like RLX Ralph Lauren before starting up MICHI — her forward-thinking line of intimates and activewear — in 2010. MICHI is tailor-made for the girl who rolls her eyes at traditional activewear (Adidas I’m talking to you) but is also getting tired of wearing old band t-shirts to the gym (that old Chameleons t-shirt is looking like hell). Since MICHI bras are some of the coolest new pieces we at OAK have seen in a while, can be worn anywhere, and are made out of easy wash, easy stretch materials like Italian Jersey and four-way stretch Swiss nylon Lycra, not getting one — or stocking up — is basically sinful (yes, I said it, SINFUL.) Below Michelle Watson talks a bit more about what makes MICHI tick.

Text by Marlo Kronberg

OAK: What is your name, where are you from, and what do you do?

Michelle Watson: Michelle Watson. I grew up in Calgary, Canada near the Rocky Mountains so I played a lot of outdoor sports but always watched Fashion Television and sewed my own clothes. I come from a diverse background with a British father and Chinese Jamaican mother, so I grew up with a lot of European and Caribbean influences.

With my MICHI collection, I mix function with style. MICHI is an edgy, fashion-forward, utilitarian active lifestyle brand.

OAK: What did you do today?

MW: Normally I work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week because I’m a new brand, but right now I’m in Brazil so I spent the day discovering some gorgeous remote beaches. I hiked barefoot through a muddy jungle to a natural turquoise blue swimming pool surrounded and sheltered by huge rocks. I spent some time on a big wild beach with jungle on one side and gigantic waves on the other. I then hiked to a waterfall that you can surf/ slide down into a river.

OAK: What are you doing tonight?

MW: Tonight I’m going to a pre-wedding party in a small Brazilian town called Paraty. It’s the first night of a 3 day wedding with a big group mostly from London, Italy, and Brazil so it’s an amazing mix of cultures with everyone ready to let loose and dance all night.

OAK: Give me your abbreviated bio in five sentences.

MW: A Calgarian by birth, but a world traveler by heart, I have always had close relationship with design and sport. I love a challenge, learning about other cultures, being surrounded by nature, great design, creativity and having an adventure. I studied fashion design at Parsons in NYC, designed for several big brands including RLX Ralph Lauren then launched MICHI in NYC in 2010. I later relocated to Canada for the excellent manufacturing and to be closer to my family.

OAK: Why did you decide to start Michi? What is the brand vision?

MW: In a quest to fuse edgy, provocative and stylish clothing with superior athletic wear, I created MICHI. My vision has always been to combine my love of high fashion with sport and dance to create stylish yet utilitarian sportswear with performance features.

OAK: What are the top five creative inspirations behind this brand?

Pin-Up Girls
Vintage lingerie

OAK: Michi bras are so stylistically provocative that it’s really a shame to cover them up. What do you think is the best, creative way to wear them?

MW: The best way to wear them is to layer them with sheer tops or dresses. A top with a low neck or armhole works well. The bras are intentionally designed to be slightly exposed to add to the outfit. They’re so comfortable that you’ll want to wear them for everything.

OAK: What is your design process like?

MW: I look for fabric and often get ideas from what I discover. I also get inspired from my everyday interests. Something usually comes to me when I least expect it, then it all snowballs from there. I wear test everything I design to see how people respond and to make sure it’s comfortable and functional.

OAK: What is your last coolest discovery?

MW: Cool discoveries for me are new mesh fabric qualities, interesting trim, new sewing techniques and fun/ interesting work-outs. I just discovered a really cool outdoor gym in Rio de Janeiro overlooking the ocean with weights that look like they’re from the Flinstones but it’s such a gorgeous and simple place to get in shape.

OAK: Freeform list of things you like.

Close friends & family
Avant Garde Fashion
Adrenaline Sports
Other cultures
Street Parties
Historical fashion and architecture

OAK: What’s next for Michi?

MW: I´d like to add more color and styles and slowly grow to become an active lifestyle brand complete with outerwear, accessories and everyday apparel.

Click here to shop Michi.


coming soon to a.ok: comune a/w 2011

oak recommends: chrishabana apartment sample sale