In partnership with adidas
When Tyler Kawaguchi was little, his mother Hiroko would drive him to football training three times a week, and to his matches every weekend. The drives were often long, but it was an almost ceremonious commitment that bonded them from very early on – a son who loved playing football, and a mother who loved watching it. It's a passion that Tyler, his brother Ayden and their mum are still united by today, and with the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup™ taking place as we speak, the trio – influenced by both their Japanese heritage and Australian upbringing – are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to cheer on some of the world's most talented athletes.
At the centre of the celebration for the Kawaguchi family is the event's connection to community, a pillar that has long brought people together through sport. It's a sentiment that adidas, a proud partner of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, have ensured is intrinsic to each federation's kit – the designs inspired by, and a celebration of the diverse natural landscapes of each country.
"All of my fondest childhood memories were created in Japan. For me, the perfect day out with family including extended family was being able to go run and kick a ball around with my Ojiichan (Japanese grandfather) at my favourite park. The park is huge and it’s located by the beach and has a tonne of vending machines in which I would always get my favourite drinks such as, Aquarius, Pocari Sweat, Dekavita C and CC lemon. If you know you know!" shares Tyler.
Alongside his mother and brother, the trio took to the streets of Sydney, sporting the new away jersey for Japan in their own unique way. Inspired by the unparalleled pink sunrise that can be experienced from Mount Fuji, Tyler spoke to RUSSH about how he's styling the adidas Japan federation kit during the FIFA Women's World Cup™, his evolving connection to his culture, the honour of celebrating his heritage on and off set.
Our conversation, naturally, begun in one of the most important places – fashion. It's a subject Tyler launches into when I ask what makes him proud about the growing Japanese community here in Sydney. He explains how it's "evident that a lot of people here in the fashion scene take some sort of inspiration from Japan either style or brand wise, even clothing stores". He imagines the adidas Japan kit will be welcomed with open arms for this reason. It also makes Tyler "proud to see that there are a lot of amazing Japanese restaurants and cafes which take a lot of inspiration from Japan".
It's one of the reasons why he's so excited to see the unique ways in which sport and fashion will come together for the FIFA Women's World Cup™ – both on the ground in Australia and New Zealand where the matches will be played, but internationally too, with fans from all over the world incorporating their team's kits into their everyday wardrobes. For Tyler and his family, this symbiotic relationship between culture and daily practice and routine is an innate connection that influences how they perceive the world, even on a subconscious level. On set, and in real life, there's an ease in the way Japan's vibrant hues of pink and purple blend into their wardrobes.
Streetwear and classic silhouettes or staple pieces are elevated, with Tyler sharing that his favourite way to hero the jersey is by "styling it with some really baggy indigo denim pants and an indigo coloured bandana on my head. Maybe a pair of adidas superstars or 20471120 ski boots to finish the outfit."
"For numerous years, I have also been collecting and curating specific Japanese brands into my own wardrobe, so I'm looking forward to seeing how I can pair the jersey with these pieces throughout the FIFA Women's World Cup™ and beyond," he continued.
It's clear from the outset that the pride Tyler has for his culture is deeply ingrained. Reflecting on his upbringing, he described his Japanese heritage as a privilege, expressing that having his mum "be able to share our culture with us from the day we were born is something that a lot of people don't get to experience in their lives." Though sadly, he didn't always feel this way.
"Growing up in primary and high school I felt ashamed to be Asian. While I was in primary school, I was embarrassed to speak Japanese with my mother in public since we lived in Australia and like a lot of other students, I was mocked in high school by friends just for being Asian. I remember thinking that I wished I was 100 per cent anglicised. I think this had some influence on why I disconnected myself from my culture for a little while. Despite all that drama, deep down, now I do feel Japanese at heart and plan on moving there whenever I can!"
Now, on set, there's no place he'd rather be – except Japan, of course; sharing the experience and celebration of his culture with the two people who are most symbolic of that connection. "It makes us proud that we’re able to represent Japan for this shoot. We are very proud to have Japanese blood. I think it’s great that we can all share this moment together as family."
With Japan set to play Sweden in the quarter finals on Friday, I had to ask Tyler what makes him most excited about Japan's squad. "The women’s squad for Japan is known as a particularly strong team amongst other women’s teams. So we’re praying for the success of our women’s squad. 頑張ろう日本！(Let’s go Japan!)"
PHOTOGRAPHY Anne Thu Pham
FASHION Marisa Suen
TALENT Tyler Kawaguchi @ Stone Street Agency, Ayden Kawaguchi and Hiroko
HAIR Jesse Wakenshaw
MAKEUP Carly Lim
PRODUCTION Olivia Repaci
PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT Myles Kalus
MAKEUP ASSISTANT Yasmine Keong