Naomi Osaka is making her dreams a reality on and off the tennis court.
The 22-year-old tennis player, who has already won two grand slam titles, just made her first big foray into fashion in the form of a capsule collection with Hanako Maeda's label, ADEAM.
The Naomi Osaka collection, which includes five items, debuted during ADEAM's New York Fashion Week show at the Highline Hotel on Monday and Osaka told In The Know's Gibson Johns, ahead of the gorgeous show, that this was a moment she "never thought" would ever actually happen.
"I just really loved her designs and everything, and I thought it would be really great if I could do something. I never thought this opportunity would come, but she said 'yes,' we met here in New York," Osaka recalled of the collection's genesis, adding that it's fulfilling the passion for fashion that she's had since she was little. "Ever since I was a kid, I liked sketching stuff and trying to put different clothes together."
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"Before Naomi’s team reached out to me, I really wanted to something with her, but I figured it was impossible, because she's so busy and always traveling," Maeda added. "So, when I received the email from her team, it was a dream come true."
The Tokyo-born designer went on to explain that she and Osaka immediately saw eye-to-eye when it came to their shared vision for what their collaborative collection could look like, sharing that they both wanted their Japanese heritage to be highlighted through the clothing they created together.
"One of the amazing things about Naomi is that she’s actually very interested in fashion, in addition to sports. We share a lot of similar styles and reference points," she explained to ITK. "Naomi also likes fashion that’s a bit more feminine and fun and playful, so it was really easy to work together, because we had a lot of similarities, and we also share our Japanese heritage."
"In Japan, little quirky and cute things are called kawaii, and we have a little bit of that here and that was our connection, which became the inspiration for the collection," Maeda went on. "Even though the collection still feels a little bit sporty and active, it’s still very designer and fashion, so it came out very well."
As a public figure with such an international platform, Osaka added that it was also important to her that the collection, which will be featured on ADEAM's newly relaunched e-commerce site, be comprised of pieces that a variety of women could wear.
"We did this with a lot of people in mind. It’s not too crazy; it’s not too simple. It’s comfortably in the middle, and I hope a lot of different people are able to wear it," she said with a smile. "That was the goal we had in mind."
Plus, for the gracious tennis star, her partnership with ADEAM represents the first time that she's channeled her interest in fashion professionally and, judging by how much she enjoyed the experience, it certainly won't be her last.
"This is my first fashion exploration," Osaka reminded. "As athletes, we don’t get as many chances to dress up so much, so I tend to go a little bit extra when I do get the chance, so it’s really fun."