SUSTAIN PREVIEW: Kumiko Tani
Style director of Re-Cycle-Style and costume designer, Kumiko Tani is a Japanese-born graduate of Central Saint Martins. Having worked on Re-Cycle-Style since 2008, Tani’s work has garnered enormous attention globally for its focus on producing ethical clothing on a theatrical scale. With work featured in Dazed & Confused, helping to produce projects such as Secret Cinema and designing costumes for various musicians, Tani’s not been one to wait around for trends. In an interview with Brighton Fashion Week’s Victoria Rodrigues O’Donnell, she talks about exactly which projects she’s working on now, her biggest influences and what we can expect from this season’s collection.
How has your experience in theatre/costume design affected your current work?
I’m still in the position between costume and fashion, and I learn a lot from both sides. There are many different elements to work with for each, but there’s also a similarity to both like needing to think and understand human psychology: who wears what and sees what.
Would you say your Japanese heritage is a strong feature of your work or do you prefer to develop a more Western style? Or, do you combine the two?
I grew up in Japan and moved to the UK, so I really think my base is Japanese thinking. But, I have learnt and experienced a lot about European and other cultures since then. I can see those with an objective view alongside my Japan side. My position is in there between these two ways of thinking.
What has inspired your current collection?
I’ve been doing this recycled project a long time, and still continue to do so. The project’s concept is:
"An enormous amount of waste is produced everyday and re-cycling is one way to reduce waste. I will try to change the image of re-cycling by suggesting new ways of doing it. This collection is profoundly connected with the city and its inhabitants."
Have you always been drawn to collaborating with artists?
I sometimes collaborate with photographers, media artists, contemporary artists and many other people who have the same interests in sustainable work as well as showing our work at galleries within the ethical community.I like these collaborations because we get to inspire each other and make interesting work together.
What other designers influence you?
My favorite designers are Jean-Paul Gaultier, Viktor & Rolf, Alexander McQueen and Christian Lacroix. Their catwalk shows have always been theatrical and surprise the audience - that inspires me a lot.
What are your thoughts on working with BFW?
I am very excited to work with such a big team. I hope I can get lots of advice from different areas, such as the music, lighting etc. Like making big theatre production, all areas are very important for the full effect and I love collaborating with every different aspect.
What’s next for your career and brand? Where do you see your designs in five years’ time?
I would like to keep doing what I am doing: costume installation, costumes for musicians and for theatre but in an ethical way. It would also be nice if I could show an ethical accessory brand too, alongside my costume installation but with additional products.
Kumiko Tani will be showcasing her latest collection at the Sustain catwalk show on Friday 10th October. Find out more about Kumiko at her website. Tickets for Sustain are available here. See the rest of the schedule here.
Victoria Rodrigues O'Donnell
Brighton Fashion Week blogger
Images: courtesy of Kumiko Tani