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Beauty from the inside out

Mame Kurogouchi X UNIQLO

In a world that is ever-evolving, shifting the way we perceive beauty is integral. Whether it be what we see in the mirror, media or within ourselves and others – there are many pieces that make up this conceptual puzzle. Fashion has forever been a point reference when it comes to actualisation, and building our armor of protection; a concept Mame Kurogouchi in collaboration with UNIQLO reflects on within their latest collection. In bringing us back to our essence, the designer has created the ultimate inner-wear, encouraging women to dress, choose and style themselves however they want! We spoke with the renowned Japanese womenswear designer about the earthly and how it “is centered around the most intimate items in a woman’s closet”, igniting the “most significant changes”.

Your designs for this collection with UNIQLO intersect fashion and functionality; enhancing the female form whilst also maintaining comfortability. Why do you think this balance so important for women today?

Up until now, it was necessary to feel relaxed, but I think functionality is also required. During the pandemic, the boundaries between personal time and work time have been eroding. Functionality is crucial to meet the demands of any situation.

 What do the notions of Inner and Outer beauty mean to you?

They are intertwined. I believe each person’s individual goodness is very important. Inner beauty comes from confidence (and through what I make). I want to give women confidence, which ultimately results towards the liberation of woman.

 …and how does your collaboration with UNIQLO convey this liberation?

My wish in designing clothes is to give women an extra boost of confidence, to help them stand tall and proud as they go about their days. This collection is centered around the most intimate items in a woman’s closet, and I thought about which elements would best bring out a woman’s inner confidence and beauty. I wanted to create garments that would help each individual woman feel beautiful, without worrying about anyone else’s standards. I pictured that special moment each morning, when a woman adorns a piece from their collection and revels in the joy it brings them.

Your work has always hailed traditional Japanese craftsmanship through a contemporary lens. What makes this practice so important within your creative process? 

Applying traditional ways of making garments allows me to create truly beautiful products. Artisanal craft-making is a result of impeccably delicate (yet tremendously hard) work, alongside first-hand experience gained through years and years of services. As a fashion designer, I need to make a modern collection that can appeal to contemporary, well-educated and independent customers. I only want to make things that I wholeheartedly believe to be beautiful and to do so, fusing traditional technique and savoir-faire and the latest technology is the only way I have found to make things that I believe in that last long time.

Mame Kurogouchi’ as a brand is known for engaging with the world around it. In what ways does this collection mirror 21st century living?

Now, more than ever before, women are active. Personally, I travel a lot so I encounter various demands depending on the places and occasions I go. Because my life is constantly moving from one place to another, I quickly became inspired by the demand for comfortability.

 How did you take this inspiration and apply it to your designs?

In the last few years, I began gravitating toward items that bring comfort, but I could never find the matching underwear that fuses design and functionality. The feeling of liberation comes from the feeling of inner freedom. I wanted to update the most intimate piece of garments to encourage women around the world to feel confident from within.

The colours within this collaboration are so beautiful! What inspired such a neutral palette?

When I buy inner-wear, I don’t choose red or blue, but black, nude, beige, or dark brown. And that’s because earth-tones simply match with what I wear! Since UNIQLO has stores all over the world, I wanted this collaboration to feel timeless and simple, and ensure everyone could feel comfortable whilst wearing this collection.

Did ensuring every skin colour was catered to therefor play a large role in diversifying the underwear game?

Though these basic colours do complement skin tones, this wasn’t the only reason for this colour-way choice. When I envision UNIQLO’s woman, I imagine active, lively person. With that in mind, I wanted to choose something that draws on the energy of the earth, and the layers of the earth. Even if the brown and beige tones look similar at first glance, there are slight differences amongst the materials. The fun of this collection is styling by layering items like the layers we see on the earth.

That’s such a cool concept! The fashion industry is continuously adapting and changing; what do you hope to see in the future of design innovation?

Big changes don’t happen in a day. The accumulation of small actions eventually leads to a significant shift. To know that a garment is not only comfortable but also looks beautiful on the curves of your body can add a little ease to the day. I hope people don’t lose focus on small daily challenges.

Shop the limited-edition capsule collection here.
Mame Kurogouchi X UNIQLO

Spring/Summer 2021.
Now available online and in selected stores

Words by Grace Powell