“About four years ago, when I was living in Paris, I thought to myself; if I can be kind to myself, others, animals, and the planet through eating, there must be a way to be kind to them in fashion. “
Kiko, one of the few ethical models in the fashion industry, shares her experience and growth throughout her years in modelling, in which she had a difficult journey overcoming many challenges regarding self-love.
“I started modeling at the age of 12 by being scouted on the streets of Tokyo. I was always a confident kid, full of energy. I did a lot of sports and studied hard. I always believed in myself and made my dream come true. But I also had a hard time liking myself because I didn’t know who I was at the time. I had lots of doubt about myself as a model if I was talented, pretty, and skinny enough.”
With self doubt, Kiko had struggled with eating disorders living on the edge of life. Modelling then turned from a dream come true to a sacrifice of mental and physical health. However, with the appropriate help and refocusing on herself and well-being, Kiko was able to overcome these trying times and come out as a better, healthy, and ethical model.
“After watching documentaries such as The True Cost, educating myself by using resources provided by non-profit fashion organizations, and attending workshops, events about ethical & sustainable fashion in Paris, I decided to make a decision to model for ethical and sustainable brands as an “ethical model”. I believe that even a model can be a voice for positive change in the world and I wanted to be the example that it is possible!”
As an ethically vegan herself, Kiko started modeling for sustainable brands and founded Ethical Models, the first ethical agency based in Europe, connecting sustainable brands with models who share the same ethical beliefs.
“By selecting models based on ethical values rather than just “looks”, we believe we can prevent issues in the industry such as sexual harassment, assault, trafficking, eating disorders and mental illness as well.”
Kiko’s determination to bring positive change to the fashion industry is still a work in progress, and will continue to bring models alike together to influence more people to re-evaluate their perspective on the industry. Her work is more than just about the fashion industry and sustainability, but also challenges societal status quo on body shape, and normalizing conversations around mental health, eating disorders, disabilities, and sexual harassments.
She continues to inspire many aspiring models out in the world who would like to see a change in the fashion industry. She identifies as a fashion activist and a self-love advocate, spreading positive message on her Instagram @kiko.sunflowersoul
“Try to get to know who you really are and your values. Try to learn how to love yourself even when you get rejected. Once you know, respect and honor your values and boundaries no matter where you go. Always surround yourself with people who respect you and treat you the way you deserve to be treated.”
Kiko’s value in modeling is simply a reflection on her perspective of the world, and should be something that is embraced and celebrated in a world that is in need for individuality.