Growing up in an artistic environment in the UK, fashion-designer Hana Tajima has always been fascinated by aesthetic and expressive freedom. Perhaps its for that reason that she seems to blend her three cultures so effortlessly. The British-Japanese designer is a Muslim revert, a strong element that is present in her designs, particularly in the new Spring/Summer HANA TAJIMA FOR UNIQLO collection. This collection, which features pieces that are simple, elegant and versatile are perfect for women of all backgrounds but also highlight Tajima’s own blend of cultures.
We spoke to the designer about her latest collection and where she see’s modest fashion going in the future.
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What do you think is the biggest misconception about modest wear?
People have an idea of what modest wear looks like and who it belongs to. But almost all of these are cultural assumptions. I enjoy blurring those ideas, of trying to questions some of those prejudices. Just because abaya and shalwar kameez are ‘modest wear’ doesn’t mean ‘modest wear’ is only abayas and shalwar kameez. These are cultural interpretations of those ideas.
At the same time, there are a lot of mainstream brands that are making ‘modest wear’ clothing, even if they aren’t marketed in that language. Women are smart, we know when we see a piece of clothing if it speaks to us or not if we want to wear it or not.
What’s special about your latest SS21 collection?
The theme for the 2021 Spring/Summer collection is “Changing lifestyles”. Living environments are changing, blurring the boundaries of daily activities. As societies become more diverse and mature, clothing is evolving away from stereotypical styles for particular occasions toward universally accessible items for all aspects of life.
The Spring/Summer 2021 collection reflects these considerations in making every day more comfortable. Rayon linen is in everything from bottoms to outerwear because it is firm while draping well. Cool, wavy seersucker allows ankle pants to follow body contours and summer dresses to accentuate femininity with flared silhouettes. In-trend blouses are finely detailed and softly translucent. The line also features iconic soft geometric patterns. Organic lines and colours embody fabric textures, all to underscore the collection’s elegance and comfort.
You’ve designed a couple of collections with Uniqlo so far, is there a particular piece or collection that you hold dear? Why?
A lot of the prints are special to me. Each season I’ve painted and drawn these designs, and they come from different parts of my life. In an early season, I used an element of my father’s ceramic design in one of the prints, in a more recent season I was inspired by the lining of my grandmother’s kimono. I don’t think a lot of people know that. But I think that’s part of what makes it feel so personal, these secret ‘notes’ to the people I care about.
While the world has been in and out of lockdowns, how do you stay creative through it all?
Just by making things. If I didn’t feel inspired to design clothing then I would paint, if I didn’t want to paint I would make music. I think it’s important to have other outlets for creativity because it allows you to develop new approaches that you can bring back to your work.
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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I don’t know that I’ve been given a whole lot of explicit advice. My parents just let us sort of figure it out, and I left school at sixteen. I know I’ve learned a lot implicitly. Most importantly I’ve learned how to learn and ask questions. Information is there if you want it. For example, just by looking at a chair, you can figure out how it was made, in what order it was constructed, and if it was made with hand tools or by machine. Now, if you’re willing to mess it up a few times, you can make a chair.
Who inspires you?
I always say that my favourite artist is my father. He’d taught me that if someone can make something, then you can make it. That sentiment took away all the boundaries and allowed me to feel free to experiment. He has worked with so many different materials and changes his style so easily, but it always feels like him.
This article originally appeared on Singapore Women’s Weekly