For British-Japanese designer Hana Tajima, making clothes has always been more than just fashion to her.
As a Muslim woman, Tajima started designing after seeing a gap in the market for fashionable and modest clothes that fit her own personal style. Since then, she’s designed three collections for Uniqlo that have met success in Southeast Asia and the U.S. Now, she’s ready to launch her brand new Spring/Summer 2017 collection in Canada.
To celebrate the release of her latest collaboration with Uniqlo, which launches in store today, we caught up with her to learn more about making the collection, her favourite pieces and her identity both as a woman and a designer.
TELL US ABOUT THE AESTHETIC OF THE COLLECTION.
The idea was to examine LifeWear from the perspective that was more about modest fashion. It plays with the idea of movement and femininity and how that also could be paired against the more sculptural sense of androgyny—it’s an interesting mix of those two things. Hopefully, that translates as really wearable pieces that are versatile and comfortable.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE?
Something I always come back to that’s really easy to style is the tie-back light coat. It has that lightweight and slim silhouette but also this sense of movement with the slip panels. The ability for it to be tied in the front and the back makes it a really adaptable and versatile piece. Depending on your personal style, there are lots of ways that it can be interpreted and that’s going to be an interesting thing for me to see.
HOW DO YOU USE CLOTHES TO EXPRESS YOURSELF?
Clothing is an expression of self—if you take away the idea of fashion as being something that is really fast paced, it’s just sort of a personal story line. If you look at someone’s wardrobe it kind of encapsulates who that person is.
HOW DID YOUR OWN JOURNEY TO SELF-DISCOVERY INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGNS?
I think they’re really interconnected. Both my parents are artists—so growing up, the way I knew how to express myself was by making things, and I kept coming back to clothing. There’s this really interesting balance between an item that is engineered and something that’s just purely art. Through that journey, and as I changed when I became Muslim, this whole story is shown through what I was making at that time. For me, there isn’t a distinction between those things; one is just part of the other.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER YOUNG FEMALE CREATIVES–ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH DIFFERENT AND DIVERSE UPBRINGINGS?
The path that I took was non-traditional. I left school when I was around 16 and started out on my own. You need to have that sense of motivation and have a really clear idea of what you want and an inability to stop. There’s such an internal motivation for these things, and I think even more so when things aren’t so laid out for you either in an educational way or because of your background, there’s something more to fight for.