Interview with the Creative Director Behind Kabukimono: Edward V
When did you realise you wanted to go into the fashion industry?
It began with years of personal creative research, starting a clothing label was always in my mind. I’ve gradually harnessed my vision since secondary school. Now, artistic expression through the medium of fashion comes with ease.
Why did you choose to study at Manchester University, and how has this directed you to where you are now?
Manchester University has a rich and diverse textiles heritage. My degree in the design fashion business school certainly gave me a foundation and taste for the more structured, retail driven aspects of the business. However during the final year Business Project module, creative freedom was endorsed and I naturally began to find my own by launching Kabukimono as part of my final project.
What led to you deciding to spend some time travelling (in between your time at university) to Uganda? How did the experience affect you and influence your work?
I travelled to Uganda in 2011 to kick start a life of thinking for myself. Travelling shouldn’t be something we consume, it's like breathing, without it, you would cease to exist.
In Jinja, I met people who are enthused by life and learning. School children cherish knowledge, each tailor respects their craft. Dress isn’t just something you throw on and off; the clothes have meaning and this interested me.
It was in Jinja that I created a collection with the assistance of a tailor (Annette) and a knitter (Unis). Knowing the people who make my clothes is important to me; this value is embedded into Kabukimono.
Did you do any internships/work experience whilst at university or after you left?
I interned in London with Olivia Deur and Alexandra Groover while studying. Olivia's couture dresses incorporate hand-stitching, a skill I honed while interning. Alexandra has a distinct artistic aesthetic, this type of fashion I am drawn to.
You’re now living in London, what was the transition like moving to London?
A lot of my family and friends are from London so I have familiarised myself with it from a young age.
What has been the most unexpected part of turning your degree into a career?
The speed at which things are going.
You only launched in April 2014, how did you begin the process of establishing your own brand?
I shared the concept of Kabukimono with digital artist and close friend, Vicki Dang. We are now business partners. The launch night in Manchester was a turning point, selling over 80 tickets to people who wanted to see our show was inspiring.
Finding suitable studio space in London was a big step, I love the D.I.Y atmosphere at DIG Space. Building relationships with photographers, stylists and models has helped a lot. Seeking out opportunities such as The Hackney Shop residency has increased Kabukimono’s exposure.
Kabukimono is Japanese for “one who is individual or eccentric, leaning away from the norm” What made you choose this name?
I saw the term at the Barbican Centre 3 or 4 years ago. Deeper research led me to discover the Kabukimono were bored 16th century Japanese Samurai. They’d dress in a daring and flamboyant manner, dancing in the streets, drinking and behaving wildly. Men would wear women’s kimonos hence we’ve translated this into a contemporary context with unisex fashion apparel.
How did your collaboration with Moran Chen, David Yang and Daniela Monasterios-Tan for the ‘Lonely Faces’ Capsule Collection happen?
Daniela Monasterios Tan (@a_dna_lie) is a designer, embroiderer and co-founder of Mash-Up; we met when I travelled to Singapore in June and agreed to collaborate on her visit to London in December.
Moran studies Creative Direction for Fashion at LCF, we connect artistically and this laid the foundation for collaborating. David regularly works with Moran for online zine: @Raw_Kids_Club, so the two already have a working relationship.
Kabukimono embraces collaboration as a way to express the different facets and ideas we have. Vicki connected Kabukimono to other artists and creatives in Saigon to create a digital magazine which we launched in December.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your ‘Lonely Faces’ capsule collection?
Conceptually, I and Daniela believe “Lonely Faces” is about the effects of separation. In life people feel alone, often isolated. It’s not until they discover a person who reciprocates and understands their love that they truly begin to feel whole. Being apart from this person can be unsettling; hence the faces and their idiom inspired names.
Artistically the Spanish painter Joan Miro is under my skin. The Kabukimono aesthetic is always inspired by the abstract; you can’t beat those utopian modernists. The t shirts are hand painted on an easel and Daniela finished them off with hand embroidered eyes and beaded, sequinned embellishments.
The first pieces will be stocked and sold at SUPERSPACE in Singapore and online at adnalie.com.
Was it difficult to find a manufacturer to hand make all your garments in the UK?
It wasn’t that difficult. We established a business relationship with The Fashion Studio in London as it was recommended to us by industry professionals. There is no minimum order which is great for emerging labels. The studio delivers quality work at speed and is supportive of young local designers. However the majority of the handwork is completed in house by Kabukimono.
With the next general election coming up soon, will you be taking part/voting? Do you think it’s important that everyone takes part?
Good question. Yes, anything that effects people’s lives significantly should be given due consideration.
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