Interview with Eco Fashion Designer Michiyo Hayes Kuramochi

Tell share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

My grandmother was a kimono maker. She taught me how to sew by hand. She always gave me the off-cuts of kimono materials, mainly silk. I started to make doll's clothes out from it. I also loved spending hours to draw girls in detailed dresses, I think I naturally become obsessed by sewing and designing garments in my childhood in the way.

I understand your studied fashion design at F.I.T.? Why did you choose this school?

I always admired people who studied how to make garments properly. I went to an art school in Tokyo called Setsu Mode Seminar but didn't learn to make garments.

After I moved to NY, I met an Asian girl who was studying hard to get a high score in TOEFL; she wanted to apply to F.I.T. Until the point I didn't think it's an achievable target but she made me think if I also try my best I might be able to make my longtime dream comes true! Then I made it happen!

Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

I enjoyed being surrounded by friends who loved fashion as much as I did. However, to me, most of the classes were challenging on the language side. But I learnt mostly by eye I did the quick drawings of procedures my professors showed us. I especially loved draping class. I couldn't believe how the yards of fabric become a wearable sculpture! After F.I.T. I went to another school in Holland called ArtEz. It was seriously hard to be in the Dutch-speaking environment, However, the totally different way of teaching fashion was a great experience. It's become a strong element of my work: improvising.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic?

My inspirations often come from social matters I get interested in. I grew up in the family continuously talking about politics. I also love the miracles of nature the universe offers us. Not just because of their beauty, also the sense of synchronicity that it is the perfect final form.

I understand the majority of your garments are produced through upcycling. Where do find the raw materials?

As I used to be a U.S vintage clothing buyer for a store in Tokyo, I can still sense where I can find good materials for my works. Even though I rarely buy something from current productions, I have enough sources. Also, during my family visit to Japan, I find kimono materials and unusual roll-ends so on. I never stop looking for my kind of materials wherever I go.

Where does inspiration come from? Do you have an idea for a look and find the materials to make it come alive, or does your inspiration come from the materials you find?

Either way. As I mentioned above, I'm always looking for materials and continuously inspired by social matters, politics, and nature (universe) surround me everyday basis. I have a huge collection of materials never get smaller only becoming bigger and bigger and my interests in social, political and nature things are getting bigger all time so I need to work much harder to use up my materials and inspirations.

Do you have a favourite look from amongst your body of work? Why this one?

I like most of my looks for different reasons, but if I choose one, it might be the pink~purple gradation kimono coat. It is made out from 60's~70's deadstock curtain material. I used 1950's Disney print cotton and transparent duvet bag material at home to make many circle patches to create the bubble effect on the hem of the coat. My inspiration for the coat was kimono trader(it was a topic around the time) and economic bubble in 80's-90's in Japan, which was under the huge influence of United States. I also love to make my kimono-style jackets out from deadstock British & Europian suiting wools deliberately showing the embroidered salvages to state the origin of the materials. I find the salvages are beautiful. It's not easy cutting but surprisingly so little waste, one handful for 3m. I will execute this way of less waste tailoring.

What's next for you as a designer? Where do you go from here?

I hope one day in the very near future to showcase my collection in LFW or wherever I can be a part of. I also hope to have international stockists, I'd love to see real people wearing my works.I do what I do is because I'd like to show that "LESS WASTE, ethical, sustainable and so on, can be very creative and desirable as any great designers/ fashion houses' work. I know I've not even made the first step but I could have quit many years ago if I hadn't had such a strong feeling so I just have to keep doing, I guess!

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