24 April 2015

Meet My Maker: Kumi Tani



- MEET KUMI -
When I decided to begin upcycling vintage fabrics with eco-friendly components to create my first collection of clutches (which took about a year), I put an ad up on Central Saint Martin's website for a seamstress to help me sew them in a way that would make them last long enough to one day earn these creations their Vintage title again. I interviewed about 17 applicants all of whom were lovely, talented and kind, but the moment I met Kumi, I knew I'd found Leotie Lovely's girl.

Kumi (pictured above) is from Kumagaya, Saitama in Japan but has lived in London for most of her adult life. She is an eco designer herself creating jaw dropping costumes with her ethical project and fashion brand, Re-Cycle Style. Her Newspaper Collection caught the attention of numerous galleries and magazines in the U.K. & Japan including Dazed and Confused, Fudge and Untitled.

Currently, on top of working with me, she designs costumes for several theatre production companies and musicians including Secret Cinema, a performance for Friends of the EarthSonja Kristina (from Curved Air), Gabby Young, and Joji Hirota. Despite her elevated designer status, she's re-enrolled herself in school, and for the next two weeks will be attending Ethical Fashion College in Japan.


- HOW EACH LEOTIE LOVELY CLUTCH IS MADE -
Before Kumi sews each bag I add embroidery, hand fringe the leather, braid the tassels, or paint and bead the steerheads/driftwood. Because the bags are limited edition or one-of-a-kind, each bag takes about 12 hours, and an injection of Love from both Kumi and I, to create from conception to completion. The delightful definition of slow fashion.

Though my production is not without its flaws (LL labels and the embroidery thread used for tassels aren't eco friendly), a huge amount of work goes into ensuring each item going into the clutch is as eco friendly and waste free as possible. The design sketches are done on the backside of paper bills, the exterior fabric is upcycled from charity shops or vintage stores, the lining come charity shops or the deadstock bins of fabric stores, and the zippers are from estate sales or bought new from YYK organic.

Kumi has sewn every Leotie Lovely clutch (apart from the few I did myself) since the collection launched and I'm so honoured and blessed to have her on board. She's not only an awesome seamstress who ensures each bag created lasts a lifetime, she's also an incredible person with a beautiful heart and kind disposition.

You can follow Kumi on Facebook, Tumblr or keep an eye on her website here.

Find out more about Fashion Revolution, #WhoMadeMyClothes and what you can do to make a change in the fashion industry here.




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