Chances are you know the names of several Japanese fashion designers, heavy-weights like Rei Kawakubo or Yohji Yamamoto, and maybe even some up and coming ones like Nao Yagi and Hokuto Katsui from Mint Designs, who we’ve covered before. But what about all the unsung heroes of fashion, like the pattern cutters and textile manufacturer? In fact, while the Tokyo collections may have just wrapped up their presentation for the spring season, the textile manufacturers are one season ahead, having already prepared their wares for next year’s fall season. PingMag headed down to the Japan Creation textile fair to check out the colors and textures that will be influencing Japanese fashion come autumn 2009 and beyond.
Written by Rebecca Milner
There were tempting displays from hundreds of manufacturers, but we made a beeline for the winning entries in the textile design competition. These extraordinary fabric prototypes were selected among those submitted by individuals, established manufacturers, and student designers. Here are a few that we’d like to share with you.
First of all there is the clever work from Wise Textiles’ Yasuhiro Yasuda, with an intriguing holograph effect. Titled Happy Mad Sad Fun, the eye-catching fabric earned the top prize in the artistic creation category.
Color and texture seemed to be the name of the game, and fortunately there was no rule against touching the swatches. We couldn’t help running our hands over Megumi Aikawa’s Cocoon, which snagged the best newcomer’s award, and Mizuki Mihara’s woolly topography braille3, which placed in the artist category.
Now we move on to some interesting techniques used in the creation of some of the entries. To create his cotton interpretation of stained glass, Kiyoshi Nishida from Kobe collective Art Uni used a hand-worked “salt shrinking” method.
Then we have to mention Flash by Natsuki Hirose, which uses plastic “bubble wrap” air packing that has been heated, pressed flat, and decorated with embroidered starbursts. Can we have this in an umbrella please?
Speaking of re-using materials, there were plenty of eco-themed entries on hand. Miyako Noro created Waste Threads and…, made up of wispy strands of wool leftover from the weaving process and held together with thin discs of polyethylene.
Meanwhile, Rui Nomura of Factory created Moco Moco Camel by spinning hairs shed from camels belonging to Mongolian tribespeople, resulting in a shrink-washed, acid dyed fuzzy red cloth. We want to know who collected all the camel hair!
As Japan is well known for its technological advancements, we expected to see some interesting works in this category. Our favorite was the shiny silver fabric made from threads of spun glass created by Chikara Sato and Kyohei Doken from Sakai Obex Technical Center. This highly durable fabric is actually intended for industrial purposes, although the manufacturer hinted that it might also find a good use in the world of fashion. Fancy an industrial strength belt or bag?
Among the student entries, we came across the moody painted piece titled Step from Bunka Fashion College student Tatsuro Hato. Look closely and you’ll see that there are actually overlays of frayed, gauzy cotton on top for a nice subtle texture.
As for prints, we certainly wouldn’t mind sporting the 3D style print Les Dinosaures by Bunka Fashion College graduate student Tomonori Azuma, or the idyllic camouflage of Leaf, from Tama Art University’s Risa Nakamura.
Next, we headed to the “Design Collaboration” section to see the results of a project that had Japan Fashion Week designers work closely with textile manufacturers in order to develop new materials and designs simultaneously. This would hopefully raise the profile of textile manufacturers, not to mention help them understand more deeply the needs of the designers and encourage more designers to work with them in the creation of original fabrics.
Previously mentioned Mint Designs teamed up with Ichikawa Co. to produce the delightfully named Murray Spangle, a printed crystalline fabric studded with translucent sequins. This surprisingly light and supple water-resistant material is designed especially for rain gear.
The designers also collaborated with Kishu Pile Fabrics Industrial Association to create a ribbed mohair coat dotted with colorful pop-out bobbles, an eye-catching design.
Both the scarf and the lining of the tailored jacket contain an entire story! Marumasu Co. worked on the printed material, with Nakae Embroidery doing the stitching.
The design duo of Keiichi Muramatsu and Noriko Seki from Everlasting Sprout worked with lace manufacturer Charmant Co. to create a nostalgic antique-finish lace. It follows in the footsteps of the exciting sculptural dresses from the duo’s show held at the Puk Puppet Theater in Shinjuku earlier this year.
Lastly, we leave you with a few colorful samples from the main floor. Don’t they make you wish you were a fashion designer, so that you could play with them?
So there you have it, some of the textures and prints we can look forward to wearing in the not too distant future!