Fresh off her recent partnership with UNIQLO, the British designer shares the deets on her new modest fashion collection, Hana Tajima LifeWear
Joining the ranks of fashion luminaries like Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, Pharrell Williams, and Ines de la Fressange is Hana Tajima – the latest fashion designer to team up with UNIQLO for an exclusive modest wear collection. Fusing contemporary design with traditional values, the Hana Tajima LifeWear collection is a study in simplicity and sophistication with a selection of casual pieces ranging from long, flowy skirts to traditional wear like the hijab and kebaya. We chat with the British designer on the inspiration behind the collection and highlights of this life-changing experience.
Hi Hana! How did this collaboration with UNIQLO come about?
The partnership felt so natural, and even in the timing there was something very serendipitous about it. I was at the end of a very long convalescence from a concussion and I was told that UNIQLO was interested in working on a project together. At that point I had been hauled up and out of the scene for almost a year with my recovery and had spent the last few months with ideas of designs and concepts running in my head.
I know that UNIQLO is really invested in understanding the people they’re designing for and for us to work on a line of modest clothing was a way to reach a lot of people who are very often overlooked.
How did you manage to balance the approachable styles common to big retailers like UNIQLO and the intricacies and specifications of apparel that’s infused with cultural and religious references?
I worked with a fantastic team at UNIQLO who gave me a lot of trust and freedom to explore what LifeWear meant when starting with a more modest aesthetic. They really took the time to understand what the constraints were and why.
I was lucky in the sense that I was starting with a blank canvas without preconceptions of what the designs should look like. So I really did start from the very beginning, taking away even my own ideas of what the collection should be. I worked with how a piece should feel, and how it would function. What we ended up with were simple, beautiful designs that were inherently practical and comfortable to wear.
Were there any challenges you encountered during the development of the collection? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Fabrics are always a great challenge because you have so many issues to take into account beyond the way it looks and feels. Bearing in mind that we are launching in countries that are hot and humid all year round, I was very aware of choosing fabrics that were lightweight and breathable. Fortunately, fabrics are one of UNIQLO’s real strengths and getting to sort through so many performance fabrics and natural fibres with UNIQLO was a rare pleasure for me.
What were your style inspirations for this collection?
The inspirations for this collection, like a lot of my designs, were not necessarily aesthetic. I try to find the feeling I want to communicate and translate that into something wearable. A lot of that translation is done in dreams or very close to sleep. I start to see details, I start to understand the landscape that I’m drawn to and the concept is born out of that.
For this collection I had a recurrent dream and thought of walking a long corridor underground with skylights that would let sunlight flood in and collect in pools of rectangular light. Sometimes the floor would be wood and sometimes metal. It was this series of juxtapositions; light and dark; wood and metal; man-made and organic, that fed into the designs. You will find that some pieces have these opposing qualities in them, perhaps an angular cut that on the body that feels fluid.
What has this partnership with Uniqlo taught you? Would you consider it as one of the highlights of your fashion career?
For many reasons working with UNIQLO has been one of the best experiences of my career. I have always worked small, so to be behind the curtain (so to speak) of such a large company was incredible. What I managed to find was the reason that so many people love UNIQLO. There is a dedication to the pursuit of perfection, to evolve even the simplest pieces into something you’ll love like a second skin but not quite know why.
The talent throughout the departments is so impressive and getting to see how all these pieces fit together is equally so. Most of all I have such a respect and affection for the people I’ve worked with. They have shown me such support and kindness, and this project is as much of a labour of love for them as it is for me.
Source: CatMag Feed