Skip to main content
your browser is not supported
To use ASOS, we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge



From loud tangerine locks to '90s Drew Barrymore cropped flicks, the first thing you notice about Japanese-born Rina Sawayama is her hair — but once you hear her nostalgic early-2000s sound, it's no less arresting. Saccharine vocals and pop-meets-R&B influences are the dreamy components of her songs, but it’s the somewhat satirical and honest lyrics that give them unexpected grit. ASOS Magazine sits down with the model and singer-songwriter to talk fashion boundaries, representation and hair upkeep…

Rina Sawayama in conversation with ASOS Magazine

Describe your style

Tacky, 2000s, functional, lazy. It’s a lot of sportswear — comfy and bold.   


Who first got you interested in fashion?

Lady Gaga. She was the Madonna of our time, the way she seamlessly connected fashion and music. I always chose fashion when it came to art projects. At the time Galliano was at Dior and his designs — the pink-on-white Dior monograms — were so good. Even Paris Hilton was inspiring.

Rina Sawayama in conversation with ASOS Magazine

Rina Sawayama in conversation with ASOS Magazine

How do you decide what to put on in the morning?

It’s comfort driven. Getting dressed up and wearing makeup is work, so in everyday life I’m pretty stripped down. But when I go out, like go out, I think, 'What’s going to push the boundaries?' I hate safe colours.


The one piece you’ll never get rid of?

I have this obnoxious multicolored reversible Joyrich x Keith Haring puffer jacket. An ex-boyfriend got it sent over from America.


Who do you follow for style inspiration?

Sita Abellan, she’s amazing. Naomi Shimada. @blacmagic_woman. John Yuyi, love her. Rihanna, obviously.

Rina Sawayama in conversation with ASOS Magazine

What inspires your lyrics?

It’s different for every song. I want to write a straightforward love song but it becomes about politics and how I feel about the world. I write a lot about other people. I imagine how they must feel and get a bit analytical.


Your hair color is amazing...

It’s by an American brand called Lunar Tides. They’ve got the perfect shade of yellow orange.


What’s the upkeep?

I don’t apply heat and I’m anal about looking after it. My colorist Naoya Ishibashi at Blue Tit uses Olaplex, so I use Olaplex No. 3 to maintain it. I wash with Sebastian Professional moisture shampoo and condition with the K-PAK range by Joico.

Rina Sawayama in conversation with ASOS Magazine

Pictures: ASOS Magazine

What about skincare?

I’ve been dying over The Ordinary. I love squalane — it sounds like a Pokémon! — and their marula oil. And I use Suqqu’s Moisture Lotion.


Does your Japanese heritage inform your work?

The Japanese push ideas to the extreme which inspires my creativity. The work ethic can be stifling but at the same time, it’s good. I’m inspired by the structure of J-pop songwriting. I go back to it when I feel too crowded in my head about writing.


How can we encourage diversity and representation?

It’s important to ask, "Where are the east Asians?" and "How are we representing them?" If you have an east Asian girl or boy in a campaign, but you’re not giving them a voice, are you working against the stereotype, or just pushing it?