How Terumi Murao Reimagines Second-Hand Style

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Meet the sustainable stylist, model, and surf activist that remixes castaway garments with a twist of outdoor style. Photos by Vivian Kim.

“I love to find and create beauty in discarded things,” explains Terumi Murao, a model, stylist, surfer, and climber. From unearthing random vintage at thrift stores to sifting through last season’s styles in friends’ closets, Terumi prefers to work almost exclusively with second-hand clothing—reimagining new life into castaway garments.

Based in Rockaway Beach, Queens (a go-to surf spot for N.Y. surfers), Terumi describes her everyday routine as if she lived in a sleepy beach or mountain town. A typical day starts pre-dawn in the waves, then heads to work (sometimes in front of the camera as a model or behind the camera as a stylist), and she caps off her evening by training with friends at the climbing gym GP81 in Brooklyn. It’s a work in progress to balance a multitude of pursuits but Terumi navigates it all with a sense of adventure and her own dose of style.

We caught up with the modern outdoorist to hear why she loves remixing second hand garments and how she found her outdoor communities in the city. 

Flatform Universal Up Leather in Black.

Terumi wears the Flatform Universal Up Leather in Black, made from reconstituted leather from the cutting room floor.

Tell us about being a sustainable stylist. What does sustainable style mean to you and why?

TERUMI: Sustainable style is about being resourceful, seeing beauty and creating value with what you have, rather than always consuming new resources. One of my regular practices to flex this creative muscle: I open my closet and find a neglected piece of clothing that no longer inspires me. I force myself to mix and match, and think outside of the box until I put together an outfit that brings a new meaning, purpose, or beauty to the piece. Design constraints breed creativity!

Flatform Universal Up Leather
Sustainable stylist Terumi Murao

How does your identity play into your sense of style and why?

TERUMI: My identity is very eclectic. Sometimes rebellious, sometimes refined, sometimes femme, sometimes masculine, sometimes innocent, sometimes bold. When I get dressed in the morning, I play music that evokes how I’m feeling, and then I let myself gravitate towards clothing that expresses my mood that day.

I oscillate between extremes: sleek city, gritty outdoors, creative set life, traditional upbringing, and go-with-the-flow California vibes. My style reflects all of that. There’s always something intentionally off-kilter—just enough to spark questions and curiosity!

Exploring Brooklyn.

How has the intersection of styling and the outdoors shaped who you are and finding your communities?

TERUMI: It took a long time for my seemingly disparate universes to come together and form a career. Initially, I felt like an imposter when I’d bounce between the grungy outdoor lifestyle, to the fashion world, to the nonprofit circle. But when you do things you love with the people you love, you naturally find your identity and your community.

Tell us about the outfits that you styled with Teva. How did the shoes inspire your looks?

TERUMI: I love Teva because I’m always on the go, always moving quickly, and wearing them for various activities. I need comfort, mobility, and durability—and the versatility of going from set, to a client meeting, to the climbing gym, to the beach.

I actually always start my outfits with footwear, because it’s the most important component to what you have to do that day. The shoes set the tone and the rest of the outfit comes together with varying degrees of contrast or congruence.  

Grabbing breakfast in the Midform Boots.
Midform Boots in Black.

Terumi wears the Midform Boot in Black, made from reconstituted leather from the cutting room floor.

Midform Boots in Black.

What are some of your favorite ways to seek the outdoors in the city and why?

TERUMI: The environment of NYC is as extreme, intimidating, and awe-inspiring as some of my favorite cliffs, waves, and peaks. I boulder [free climb without a rope] in Central Park, surf at Rockaway Beach, skate the streets, weave between traffic on a CitiBike, or wander the neighborhoods and take it in with all the senses. I love to adventure “outdoors” in the city. To me, it’s just as exhilarating as adventuring in the “outdoors” outdoors.

ReEmber in Aragon
ReEmber in Aragon

Terumi wears the ReEmber slip-on in Aragon.

What are the most valuable lessons you learned from the outdoors and being part of outdoor communities?

TERUMI: Humility. There are so many factors that are outside of your control when you’re outdoors—the elements, the terrain, the experience level, personality, and social dynamic between partners. You do your best to prepare and come as strong and sharp as you can be, but once you’re out there, it’s about listening, yielding, and flowing with all of those other factors.

ReEmber slip on in Aragon

Community. The most beautiful thing about these sports is the community that surrounds them. Love for nature and the sport unites people from all walks of life—and the more people who have access to these activities, the richer and more sustainable the experience.

I help to lead partnerships for a nonprofit called The Laru Beya Collective and we offer free surf lessons and water safety education to historically excluded communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access.

My larger mission is to increase outdoor access (specifically surfing, climbing, and skiing) to those who haven’t yet had it, because everyone has a right to the magic of the outdoors.

ReEmber in Aragon.
ReEmber in Aragon.

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