IKEMEN #28: CJ Swanton & Mariko Derpa

December 15, 2014 11:14 AM

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang






1. Where are you from? 

CJ: Originally from Vancouver, Canada, but have considered myself a New Yorker for years now.

Mariko: Germany but I'm half Japanese, half German. 


2. How long have you been in NYC? 

CJ: This time around it's been six years, but I lived here previously as well.

Mariko: 13 years. I moved here from Milan where I lived for 13 years as well.


3. What was it like when you first came to New York?

CJ: Exciting and intimidating all at the same time.

Mariko: Overwhelming and frightening. I couldn't deal with the masses of people and the anonymousness of the city. 


4. How did you get started working in fashion? 

CJ: I originally worked in non-profit PR but discovered early on that I needed something more creative. I started off interning with a fashion company in Vancouver and soon after I moved to New York for the first time and started interning at MAO PR. The rest is history. 

Mariko: I started working back in Milan in the early 90's with a great high-end fashion PR agency at that time called "Soncini & Ginepro" which represented Comme des Garcons and Martin Margiela, to mention only a few. I got hired as I speak fluently Japanese and they needed a Japanese mother tongue person for their press office for Rei Kawakubo. Next thing I knew, three months later, I was in Paris, at my first runway show for her at the Louvre with all the top models of that time, Linda, Christy, Naomi, Kristen McMenamy, etc. During that same time, I met Martin Margiela and his shows in abandoned garages in the outskirts of Paris were just so incredible. During those years, you felt the "effervescence of fashion", how I call it. 


5. What are some of your duties as Director of Press at Omen PR?

Mariko: I oversee all of the press activity at OMEN. From pitching stories to liaising our relationships with stylists and editors, my goal is to make sure that our clients are being portrayed with a sense of integrity and in the best light possible. CJ and I work very closely together and our strengths as publicists and human beings complement each other in a very dynamic way considering the fact that we come from vastly different backgrounds. 


6. What are some of your duties as owner of Omen?

CJ: While wearing many hats, my focus is primarily dealing directly with our clients to ensure that they are giving us what we need and vice versa. With a strong passion for production, I handle all of the work that we do during fashion week and also produce all of the events that we do as an agency. I also obviously look after all of the boring and tedious things like paying bills, making sure the printer has ink and changing light bulbs. 


7. Why is Omen different than other PR agencies in the city?

CJ: I started the agency because I was disgusted by the lack of humanity within the fashion industry. I witnessed enormous egos and very toxic behavior working at other agencies and realized that fashion PR didn't need to be a cliche and that it could be done treating people with respect and a sense of dignity. Our company motto is "don't be a douche bag," we want to surround ourselves with people we believe in and those who understand that fashion isn't saving lives. In addition we tend to be very involved in our designers' process and use a more holistic way of managing and mentoring the brands that we work with. 

Mariko: It "takes the risk". Our goal is to promote and help emerging designers who we believe have the potential to be the future stars of fashion. In an industry that is dictated by ad dollars, we have to fight even harder for each credit and sound bite our clients receive. 


8. What are some of the brands you work with? Any new comers?

CJ: Some of our clients include UK sneaker giant Gola, Swedish knitwear designer Lars Andersson, cult fragrance house CB I Hate Perfume and women's ready-to-wear rising star Harare. We try to have a very cohesive vibe with all of the brands we work with whether they come from the worlds of fashion or beauty. We also represent Byronesque.com, the coolest vintage e-com site out there. 

Mariko: Our new comers of this season are Haze Collection, an incredible sunglass brand which has already caught the eye of fashion darlings Rihanna and Alicia Keys. Black'd is a very chic women's ready-to-wear brand designed by Dejan Despotovic. We also represent another Swedish designer, Maria Hedmark and her women's RTW collection Linie. 


9. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

CJ: To circle back to what Mariko mentioned earlier, we are always battling for airspace with all of the mega luxury brands who dominate editorial content because they are fueled by multimillion dollar budgets. Every success we've had has been achieved through hard work and determination. 

Mariko: To be able to catch editors' attentions in order to create awareness for our clients. 


10. What gets you most excited about your job?

CJ: Seeing Mariko's beautiful face each morning... Also, I am incredibly inspired by the creativity of our clients and I love seeing them succeed.

Mariko: I feel exactly the same as CJ. The beauty of growing together motivates me every day. 


11. Could you describe a typical day of your life?

CJ: Wake up. Smoke a cigarette. Take my dogs outside. Grab an ice coffee. Head to the office. Work along, occasionally challenging, but always fulfilling day at the showroom with my talented team. Smoke a cigarette. Have a cocktail. Hang out at my home with the dogs and my fiancé'. Have some dinner. Watch random shit on Netflix. Go to bed and start it all over again the next day. 

Mariko: I am an early riser and always wake up at the crack of dawn, making my way to the gym. I love to start my day after a proper work out. I consider it a luxury to be able to do that. Also the fact that I can walk to the office every morning is a huge benefit. My days at the office vary but there is never a dull moment. After work, I always look forward to go home and see my adorable cat but sometimes end up having a glass of wine with a friend or editor somewhere downtown. 


12. What are some of your interests outside of work?

CJ: I'm always obsessing over my two Great Danes and they pretty much run my life. I've always been incredibly interested in music and I'm a die-hard bibliophile. Cooking is also therapeutic and my fiancé' and I love to entertain and play host. I've been collecting art since my early 20's and its' always fun to head out on the weekend to Chelsea Flea to try and find the next new addition. 

Mariko: I love photography, movies, music and art. Books, too! I am a big lover of good food as well. I generally really enjoy studying and learning new things so anything catching my attention. I love being outdoors, too. Breathing fresh air and seeing the sky. 






related posts

Photo: Juergen Teller for System

Dismay, Danger and Discovery: Nicolas Ghesquière's Untold Story Revealed

After fifteen years at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière quietly left his post as creative director last November.

May 01, 2013 2:57 PM  |  People


IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


May 01, 2013 1:24 PM  |  People


IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


April 24, 2013 4:44 PM  |  People

Donna Karan: Million Hearts for Haiti Project

Designer Donna Karan is sending some love down to Haiti.

April 23, 2013 10:03 AM  |  People

IKEMEN #7: Salvatore Morale

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang



April 17, 2013 11:33 PM  |  People


IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


April 10, 2013 4:22 PM  |  People

NICOLA FORMICHETTI: The Art of Deconstruction

Between the time of the confirmation of his departure and the publication of this article, you certainly had time to digest the new news about Nicola Formichetti.

April 09, 2013 1:26 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #5: Matthew Scheier

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


April 03, 2013 1:39 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #4: Brian Ermanski

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


March 27, 2013 1:53 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #3: Ekaterina Murphy

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


March 18, 2013 12:39 PM  |  People

IKEMEN #2: Martina Markota

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


March 11, 2013 12:00 AM  |  People

IKEMEN #1: Thanos Samaras

IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang


March 04, 2013 12:00 AM  |  People

INTERVIEW: HAIM? Never heard of them

Haim (pronounced Hime) are three sisters who put most of their male counterparts to shame. This girls completely own rock 'n' roll.

February 26, 2013 12:00 AM  |  People

MUN No.1 Aknari

Makeup artist and beauty expert Munemi Imai's organic nighttime youth serum, No.1 Aknari nourishes and repairs your...

November 28, 2012 2:30 PM  |  People


For decades now, Oscar de la Renta has been synonymous with pure American luxury, dressing the upper-east side’s ladies who lunch, Hollywood’s red carpet, and first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy-...

November 01, 2012 3:02 PM  |  People
Photography Chek Wu.  Top, BOTTEGA VENETA. Ring,bracelet HOORSENBUHS.

Hunger Games Starlet, Isabelle Fuhrman


September 23, 2012 4:42 PM  |  People

What's Zombie Boy Like on the Inside?

Nicola Formichetti’s muse is a walking Mugler moodboard.  To Mugler, rare is remarkable.  And Genest is nothing if not a celebration of the rare.

September 21, 2012 1:35 PM  |  People
Wiz Khalifa


Julia Lang is the 25 year old blogger behind www.geeksndfashion.com.

August 30, 2012 1:53 PM  |  People
From his latest collection titled, Atom

Noritaka Tatehana

Shoe designer Noritaka Tatehana harnesses his secret forces of shoe construction to snag the attention of international fashionistas like Lady Gaga and Daphne Guiness.

August 26, 2012 10:50 PM  |  People

Blog Party: Dreamland

We are all different with one distinguishing similarity; we all have that special place in the back of our minds, the “box” as we’d like to name it, in which we store our biggest dreams, greatest...

August 14, 2012 12:26 PM  |  People
Beau Dunn


Hollywood it-girl, Beau Dunn, multi-talented model, actress, artist and philanthropist, was born and raised in Beverly Hills, the daughter of a...

August 07, 2012 1:20 PM  |  People

Blog Party: Ciao Summer

Joanne Hegarty is a London based blogger and journalist who writes daily posts on how to live stylishly through fashion, interiors and food.

July 13, 2012 1:39 PM  |  People
JFK in classic chinos and Wayfarers

Blog Party: Why I Love The Classics

It’s recently dawned on me how most things in life are cyclical - everything eventually comes back around for a second play; rock n’ roll bands had their day in the 60’s and again in the 90’s;...

June 30, 2012 12:15 PM  |  People

A Strong Man: Scott Lipps

As CEO and founder of one of the world’s most prestigious modeling agencies, the orchestrator behind a premier fashion blog, the star of an E reality TV show, and the drummer...

June 07, 2012 3:20 PM  |  People

Pro-Surfer Andres Carreras Makes a Splash with new Sponsor, Cloud Kicker

J. Andres Carreras was born in 1991 and is a pro surfer from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Though only 21 years of age, Carreras has been surfing for 9 years.

June 06, 2012 12:43 PM  |  People

Blog party: There is no such thing as your instinct

Julia Lang is the 25 year old blogger behind www.geeksndfashion.com.

May 28, 2012 11:55 PM  |  People

Blog party: Nautical but Nice

My name is Joanne Hegarty and I write the blog, Ballet Pumps And Roses, which has daily posts on living stylishly through...

May 08, 2012 3:55 PM  |  People
The Otic Ear Cuff by Robert Anthony www.robertanthonydesign.com

blog party: Hidden Treasures

Nayla , Noor and Rawdah Al Naimi are the three sisters behind the blogs Cocoa Butter, Celebrities Style and Unbreakable Diamond.

May 08, 2012 3:37 PM  |  People

Mischa Barton – The Full Interview with TWELV mag Issue: 001

Mischa Barton – The Full Interview.

Issue: 001



May 01, 2012 11:59 AM  |  People
Me wearing the CAMDEN Biker Jacket by THREE FLOOR

blog party: One, Two, THREE FLOOR!

Julia Lang is the 25 year old blogger behind www.geeksndfashion.com.

May 01, 2012 11:07 AM  |  People
Photo by Maria Karas

Good Ol’ Georgia Boy

Sean O’Pry, Fashion’s hottest male model get’s a dirty makeover and muses about the simple life. 

May 01, 2012 11:05 AM  |  People

DJ-ing his Way From England to L.A.: Zen Freeman Opens up to TWELV About his Latest Endeavors

“A celebrity in his own right, [Zen Freeman] DJs and promotes for the hottest events and venues worldwide.

May 01, 2012 10:08 AM  |  People

A Shining Example: Lauren Bush On the Noble Mission of Curing Hunger Through Fashion.

When it comes to using fashion as a force for profound humanitarian good, Lauren Bush has cornered the market.

May 01, 2012 8:31 AM  |  People
Eric Waroll wearing Rad by Rad Hourani © Jean du Sartel www.timeoftheassassins.com

blog party: Paris Gone Wild

Eric Waroll is the fashion editor and blogger of EricWaroll.com.  At just 21, he is quickly becoming a significant part of the young Paris fashion scene.

May 01, 2012 8:18 AM  |  People


SITE BY: monocomplex©Marbles & Marbles International Inc. Drupal Development by: DivDiv, NYC
▲ back to top ▲