The Japanese brand Individual Sentiments focuses on the expression of the wearer’s own self through artisanal garments. We recently met Yoko Ito, creative mind behind the brand, to find out more about Individual Sentiments and her approach to clothing design.
Yoko how would you describe your creative process, starting with the feeling that drives the initial selection of materials to their gradual evolution in garment pieces?
It’s almost like a cycle. Everything starts with an image or a feeling which triggers the creative process and influences the design, then materials and colors come into consideration. The pattern making is crucial to me and after having defined the initial lines and details I usually go through it many times before testing the layout on fabrics. Although it might sounds like a series of separate moments, in reality everything happens at the same time, as each single step is part of a bigger organic development that leads to the realization of a new collection. I could never deal with aspects one by one because the design process is a whole and in addition I wouldn’t have the time as we are always squeezed between deadlines and new seasons.
Your knowledge as a designer counts several years of fine clothing making and has been enriched by your experience at Carpe Diem with Maurizio Altieri. Since you started approaching design, how does your shape and construction’s conception changed through time?
With Maurizio we were not working on garments, we worked on concepts. I never felt I was actually making clothes, it was more like creating objects by experimenting with different manufacturing techniques. None of the things we did together have ever been produced. That time has been the best school for forming my own self. I really respect Maurizio Altieri.
Now I make clothes and I feel it. Looking back at the Carpe Diem period, I am working on feelings and garments in a more conscious way, also because I am the only one responsible of my work.But what I wanted to do was there since the beginning. Of course the shapes and the construction of my pieces became more mature and defined by achieving more consciousness about my work.
Treatments are one of the aspects that make your creations truly unique. Considering the very beginnings of Individual Sentiments, how did you developed your experimentation with fabrics to obtain such a rich range of different textures?
When I started Individual Sentiments I did not know so much about textiles. Ignorance leaves room to freedom and experimentation which allowed me to develop inventive textures. I was not able to do everything just by myself, but craftsmen believed in me and helped me a lot. I am lucky to have people that help me to turn my creative ideas into real thigs.
Individual Sentiments is well known for reaching a deep interaction with the human perception of the wearer. How do you think garments can appeal to all senses?
By removing all the unncessary and obstructive information; keeping simple designs and not exaggerated patterns.
The inner self is somehow involved in every creative process. In your opinion how does floating entities as thoughts, memories or emotions are able to evolve into something solid and concrete as a piece of clothing?
It is really difficult to express. It’s like a day dream worked through technical experimentation. I have the shadow of an image in my mind, bare with no details… During the making process this shadow becomes more and more clear until it turns into something concrete, embodied within the garment piece.
Fabrics play a great part in all your designs and their true organicity has a sort of outstanding vitality that clearly emerges when in motion. Could you tell us which is your favorite material to work with, explaining the reasons why?
Linen and silk, because when mixed with other materials they alter the texture and make it more interesting.
Which are the main things that determinate your crafting process?
Experience, knowledge and imagination.
Each of your creations shows off a sartorial attention to detailing and proportions. What do you consider first when you work on the construction and the silhouette of a piece?
Functionality and wearability. Experimenting with pattern making it’s really important to me though.
As raw yarns, leathers have always featured your collections, which kind of treatments did you use to achieve their particular textures?
When I try to achieve some special textures I follow my instinct rather than established techniques. What I usually look for is an exquisite imbalance.
In this so called times of fashion crisis, where the lack of novelty is largely felt as paralyzing, could you give us your own definition of innovation?
It’s hard to tell…Innovation is something you discover creating and experimenting on your own which provokes a changement in the status quo perceived as new and innovative.