Yuima Nakazato Spring Summer 2023 Haute Couture Collection at Paris Fashion Week
Creating a better future through garment
The production of this collection began when 150kg of used clothing was brought back to Japan from Africa. Most of the clothes did not have proper labels, and so their origin and component materials were impossible to ascertain. These sorts of clothes are generally very difficult to recycle, but with Seiko Epson’s dry fiber technology*1 we were able to convert them into new textiles for creating new garments. It was almost as if we were rescuing clothes that had nowhere else to go.
For this project Yuima Nakazato Spring Summer 2023 Haute Couture Collection, I selected graphics and color pallets based on the scenery we encountered in Africa. I was moved by many things seen during our travels: the sight of colorful plastics reflecting the sunlight on a trash heap mixed with smoke from a spontaneous combustion; people wearing bright textiles and beads in the dry desert air; and colorful old clothes scattered on the ground as people trod them underfoot. These scenes reminded me of both the ugliness and the beauty of humanity. During this trip to Kenya, I also visited areas struggling with severe droughts, and experienced firsthand the preciousness of water.
Seiko Epson’s digital textile printing technology allowed me to transmit the impressions I gained from my travels in Africa onto fabric while also helping to reflect on the importance of adopting water-conserving treatments and processes. The photographs taken from the mountains of garbage were printed on the fabric of a paper installation presented at the show venue, designed to express Earth’s destruction at humanity’s hand.
We also gathered stones from the largest desert in East Africa and ground them down to nano-size natural pigments using submicron/nanoparticle technology developed by the Japanese Painting Laboratory at Joshibi University of Art and Design. These pigments were used to make dyes, which were employed to color the synthetic Brewed Protein™ materials developed by Spiber Inc. that feature in the collection. Witnessing the reddish-brown landscape from the desert being dyed into the artificial protein fibers was quite beautiful, as if the hot, dry African air itself was being carried into the fabric.
Tribespeople living in the interior of Northern Kenya showed us their traditional costumes made of livestock skins.
They eat livestock, use it for clothing, and even make their homes with livestock-derived resources. I was impressed by the extreme simplicity of their life, where all food, clothing, and housing are obtained from livestock, and I felt keenly that this is where we human beings first had our beginnings.
The way tribespeople wrap cloth around their bodies is reminiscent of the Japanese kimono. Clothes made almost entirely using the fabric as-is are worn by men and women, young and old, in accordance with their own bodies, and with evident enjoyment found in the art of styling. Similarly, YUIMA NAKAZATO drew upon inspiration from the kimono to further evolve its original pattern-making technique of creating three-dimensional shapes from rectangles, thereby attempting to reinterpret fashion’s approach to size and gender.
The story of this collection’s production will be made into a documentary film by director Kousai Sekine to be released this summer, exploring questions concerning the future of the fashion industry. Moving forward, YUIMA NAKAZATO will continue to confront important social issues while seeking new questions and solutions through the art of clothing.
The amount of unwanted, disposed-of clothing piling up in Kenya is almost beyond counting. Left untreated, these discarded garments are a shameful epitome of the social issues we face today. As someone who is responsible for designing clothes, I felt an urgent need to visit Kenya and witness this situation with my own eyes.
My journey began with coming face-to-face with a vast amount of leftover clothing, an experience that left me feeling completely overwhelmed. Gazing upon mountains of discarded garments, I was tormented by a sense of despair. It was undeniably obvious that cheap and generic attire such as denim and T-shirts had become utterly universal. A simple yet fundamental question arose in my mind: “Do we really need to make any more clothes?”
Traveling from the country’s capital to the hinterland of Northern Kenya, I encountered tribespeople who live in the desert, enduring severe and widespread water shortages caused by climate change. I was particularly captivated by their clothing: against a backdrop of reddish-brown desert sand, the tribespeople wrap their bodies in many colorful fabrics— utilizing oranges, greens, and purples—and wear beaded necklaces and earrings. I was moved to realize that people still strive for decoration even when living in such perilous environments.
Handcrafted beaded decorations, which require considerable time and effort to create, are handed down from parent to child amongst the tribespeople, and in a sense could be said to embody the opposite of modern approaches to clothing. I wondered, suddenly, how long the beautiful beaded decorations I saw in the desert would continue to exist.
The title INHERIT comes from the experiences I had in Kenya. Through meeting the tribespeople and witnessing their primitive, inherited way of living in the midst of an extreme drought environment—wrapped in traditional garments and tending their livestock—I caught a glimpse of how we can leave our planet in better shape for future generations.
Rather than allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the many issues we all face, this collection represents my determination to continue searching for ways to make our world a better place.
Designer profile of Yuima Nakazato
Born in 1985, Yuima Nakazato graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp in 2008, before founding YUIMA NAKAZATO Co., Ltd. in 2015. In 2016, Yuima was formally selected as a guest designer for Haute Couture Week. Since then, he has continued presenting his collections at Paris Fashion Week, offering his trademark fusion of technology and craftsmanship.
From 2021, Yuima initiated the FASHION FRONTIER PROGRAM, an educational project for ambitious, next-generation fashion designers. Yuima seeks to address social issues while pursuing cutting-edge fashion through his collections presented at Haute Couture Week.
All images Yuima Nakazato Spring Summer 2023 Haute Couture Collection by Yuima Nakazato
PR Agency KCD Worldwide Paris