There were so many things about Japan that I was able to relate to during my time there. Prior to the trip, each person who I chatted to said: "You will definitely love it!" I did not quite understand what they were talking about until I started to explore the streets and meet the people of Tokyo.
For me, the attention to detail in almost everything Japanese people do made me so happy! First, the women in Tokyo are immaculately put together head-to-toe. The attention they put into their outfits make me think they are either born this way or it takes them forever to get ready in the morning. I appreciate detail because of what we do in the studio and I try to pass along my attention to detail to each I meet everyday. But to be in a city of millions who shared the same appreciation, my heart felt full and grateful.
This was just the beginning! Read on to find out more about my textile and fashion finds.
Nippori Textile Town
A culture that dedicates a specific area to textiles tells you how important creating clothing is to Japanese people.
First, it makes me super jealous that we don't have a textile town in Vancouver. Then I realize, Vancouver does not have the population to hold up an area like this. But....one or two blocks of JUST textile suppliers would be lovely in Vancouver.
Nippori Textile Town is just a 25-minute train commute from Shinjuku Station. Simply having the accessibility to supplies and the variety of textiles makes the design process so much more inspiring.
Just a glimpse into one floor of one fabric store's offering.
There are currently over 88 stores for fabric, machines, trim, supplies and more in Nippori. I will definitely be back and plan on dedicating 3 - 4 days to just explore the streets and shops of Nippori town.
For those of you planning on going, give yourself at least 1-2 full days in the area and pack an empty suitcase. How amateur was I thinking a duffel was enough?!
Street view in Nippori. Sewing patterns right out front.
To my surprise, I did not purchase as much fabric as I thought I would. I bought much more fabric in New York.
The one thing that really stood out were the prints - the Japanese really love their prints! There was animal, floral, geometric, everything! I'm not really a print kind of designer, so this may have contributed to the lack of fabric purchase. A reoccurring print I saw were macarons, which made me hungry more than anything.
Below are the three fabrics that made their way back to Vancouver. All cotton or cotton/silk blends. I foresee a dress out of the floral print and two tops out of the others.
Supplies & Trim
The vast amount of supplies and trims Tokyo offered was outstanding. Most of my supplies were purchased outside of Nippori Textile Town in random shopping centres I wish I documented. Sorry! Just an excuse to go back, I guess.
Here are the top three items I had to purchase: hand sewing thread, decorative trim and thread snips that never need to be sharpened! All made in Japan.
Fashion Books & Magazines
Japan has this seamless effort of balance, especially when it comes to technology and old-fashioned physical objects. Many book stores, including large box chains like Chapters, have closed in Vancouver as many people transition toward e-books or online book retailers. It made my heart so happy to learn that the Japanese people still love the feel of a book in their hands.
It was by complete chance that I found Flying Books in Shibuya, Tokyo. It happen to be in the same building as Postalco, a leather goods designer I was originally checking out.
To my surprise, I found a large stash of vintage magazines and fashion design books I have never seen before. I spent at least two hours in this shop chatting up the owner. I ended up purchasing two fashion design books to add to our studio library. I would have purchased more but my luggage was already overweight!
Japanese-inspired motifs in my designs is nothing new, so I knew I would easily find inspiration during this trip.
Fun fact: my fashion design graduation collection was inspired by Japanese kabuki theatre!
During this trip I was inspired in so many ways that I foresee long hours in the studio executing new designs. Below are some of my top inspirations.
This umbrella, located inside Haneda International Airport, was atop our heads as we ate brown tea ice cream at Iteon.
A stunning piece of fish served during omakase at Sushisho Masa in Roppongi Hills.
Tile artwork in Shinjuku train station.
Matcha tea at Mikawaya Ryokan in Hakone. This picture I feel is the sum of the entire trip - serene yet energizing all at the same time.
Created and written by Sheila Wong
Edited by Samantha Quon
Arigatou Gozaimasu and Happy Sewing!
Sheila Wong Studio Team