Fashion Creative Roots

The Significance of Creativity for the Fashion Industry

In the wake of Giancarlo Giammetti’s observations, the discourse around fashion creative roots gains further depth when considering the overarching exits of industry creative giants like Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, and the perspectives of Akira Onokuza, the mind behind Zucca. Their departures were not only about individual choices but symbolic of a larger shift in the fashion paradigm. Specifically, the industry moved from creativity to financial metrics.

Creativity & the current fashion industry:

1. Financial Focus versus Creativity: 

Put into perspective, Martin Margiela, Akira Onozuka, or Helmut Lang’s exits resonate with Giammetti’s comments. Their departures from the industry were not merely personal decisions but reflections of a system that prioritises sales forecasts and mass production over artistic expression and innovation. This departure of creative visionaries underscores the broader trend affecting the industry’s core.

2. Consequences of Overproduction: 

Akira Onokuza’s statement to Brutus Japan in 2021 about pervasive overproduction: “People are overproducing anything and everything,” further accentuates the problem. In fact, the industry’s obsession with churning out excessive quantities, fueled by consumerism, has led to environmental degradation and a devaluation of creativity in the pursuit of profit margins.

3. Reinforcing the Commitment to Change: 

These departures and insights reinforce our conviction that the fashion system must undergo a radical reevaluation. By advocating for limited production, emphasising quality craftsmanship, and prioritising sustainability, we stand with industry leaders who focus on creativity and conscientious consumption.

Creative essence: the core of fashion

In short, the departure of iconic designers and industry voices like Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, and Akira Onokuza (to mention some of the true geniuses) serve as poignant reminders of the urgent need to shift the fashion industry’s focus. By staying steadfast in our commitment to a redefined value on creativity, craftsmanship, and sustainability, we aim to contribute to the revival of a meaningful fashion.

As fashion strayed from its creative origins, its essence eroded into a pursuit solely driven by financial gain. Therefore, restoring a connection with creativity, its core – is the first step toward achieving sustainability. Only through the reclamation of its creative roots will the fashion industry find purpose and direction.

Fashion Creative Roots Read More »

Tabi (足袋) shoes, cool Japan?

Culture, traditions and fashion

The Tabi in today’s fashion

These days some high brands produce split-toe shoes called Tabi. Originally, Tabi are Japanese traditional socks with a separate section for the big toe and the rest. In Japanese, Tabi is written in “足袋” – literally meaning foot-pouch.

During the fashion week in Milano, I saw many Tabi boots and shoes from different brands. As a Japanese person, it was very interesting to see how Tabi shoes are becoming more and more fashion-iconic items nowadays.

Its simple, yet unique shape, is truly cool. I agree!

The history behind the Tabi

As you might picture, Tabi socks are usually worn with Zouri, footwear for Kimono. That is probably the most common image that people have of this item.

Yet, Tabi is not only for Zouri. It was used traditionally for various Japanese traditional footwear, such as Waraji (草鞋). Waraji is the rice straw rope sandals commonly worn during the Edo period.

In my 5th grade, I spent all my summer knitting 3 pairs of Waraji. My elementary school had a tradition that all the 5th graders hiked for 9 hours on “Kyu-kaido Ishidatami” – the old highway in Hakone, with their knitted Waraji. Of course, Tabi was a must with Waraji.

Tabi and waraji hand-knitted sandals
Photo courtesy: Kotono Sakai

A mere traditional style?

It is intriguing that some high brands, such as Margiela, are inspired by the Tabi shape. Yet, Tabi has its own value and history behind it. It is culture, and it is tradition. Tabi is not just a trendy item.

So it would be disappointing if the people would consume Tabi as a mere fashion icon with simple “Japaneseness”.
Imagine if the fast fashion brands would mass-produce Tabi shaped shoes, making them even more accessible to general consumers. The value would no longer matter.

I am very pleased to see that Japanese traditional culture is being internationally appreciated and more recognized throughout different mediums. But if I saw an overuse or overconsumption of Tabi shaped shoes, I would perhaps get mixed feelings.

I encourage you to tell what is mass and what is special!


A piece written by Kotono Sakai, a Japanese girl studying history and fashion at Cattolica university in Milan and interning for suite123

Tabi (足袋) shoes, cool Japan? Read More »

Fashion is culture

With the word fashion, we mean the appearance and behaviour of a social community according to a particular taste of the moment. It refers to all the style and life elements that identify a society during a specific era.

Fashion is just another way to scan our society and culture. Another lens through which we can investigate human behaviour.

We can use clothes to hide aspects of our personality or, instead, to show and express our identity. As an overall concept, we can use clothes to analyze different cultures.

Fashion, creativity and finance

Fashion is the result of a creative process that talks about our culture. The reason it became mistreated and demeaned as a vain or silly field, lies in the system itself and some external factors.
Since finance took over the industry, during the 80s and 90s, the creative process has been forcibly accelerated, pushed to an extremely fast-paced model. Very little space was left for creativity.

Later on, when the internet and social media entered the scene, the creative side of fashion became completely distorted.
Fashion has undergone such strong pressure that valuable designers, like Martin Margiela, one of the greatest innovators and game-changers, decided to leave. Too much pressure, a continuous request for something new, too many products to put out in a short time. And then also, an obsessive hunger for information, in the form of silly poses and clownesque outfits.

Rather than a place for creativity, fashion became all about budgets, money and clowns. Pure business without a soul. Tangible examples are the rise of fast fashion and fashion bloggers.

But all that fast-paced overproduction, overconsumption, massive show-off was just a bubble, a system that couldn’t sustain itself in the long run. In fact, during the pandemic, it exploded.

Now that the world is re-awakening, we need to bring a new level of consciousness that puts creativity and ethical work at the heart. Slow fashion and smaller-scale production are the basis on which we can build sustainable models.

Fashion is culture Read More »