When it comes to re-working traditional fabrics for a thoroughly modern result, UROCO are the masters. Boticca sat down with the husband and wife team to talk all things vintage, traditional and most importantly, eye-catching.
Hello Lala, can you just tell us a little bit more about yourself.
I grew up in Osaka, Japan which is a lively vibrant city that has lots of different fashions and great food! My grandmother was a kimono tailor and my mother always made clothes for family and friends so I was always around different fabrics. When I was very young, I used make clothes for my dolls and started to make my own clothes from left over fabrics and kimono swatches. This was the start of my journey in discovering the beauty of kimono fabrics and vintage material.
What are your inspirations?
When I was teenager I was into Punk, Vivienne Westwood and all types of unique clothes from vintage shops, but I never found any bags that I really liked so I started to make my own. Then I joined a design company and worked as a designer; I designed so many different styles of bags, shoes and accessories. From there, I went from working in my fathers art gallery to studying art but my passion for designing bags kept growing so when I met my husband we set up Uroco. Uroco means a fish scale in Japanese, as we believe in recycling as much as possible which is why we like to use vintage fabrics as much as possible.
What have been your greatest challenges as a designer?
Our hardest challenge is finding vintage or antique kimonos in a good condition. Sometimes they are very hard to find, so we always keep our eyes open for other interesting materials. Another challenge we face is making sure our bags and accessories are strong when we are using such delicate fabrics.
Could you tell us a bit about your design process?
We start by finding the fabrics and the parts and then from there we make the design. Inspiration comes from everywhere; sometimes from people, films, art, travel or even from when we are working in our allotment, touching the vegetables and finding so many different shapes and colors. We make all our products by hand; we work hard to keep our uniqueness and individual style.
Do you have a favorite item from your past collections?
My favorite pieces are the Kimono Clutch Bags especially ‘Colorful Crane’. I like clutch bags that make me feel elegant and special, like I’m carrying a little bit of treasure. My advice for people is to go for vivid colors that catch the eye; this has been our customer’s favorite style for years.
The Obi Belts are another of our popular items, for example the ‘Flying Gold Crane’. I am lover of birds and the Japanese crane is one of my favorite birds as they are so dramatic. Also real Japanese Obis are meant to be only for the kimonos and are actually quite difficult to put on so we create them a different way. Our Obi belts add life to simple ensembles, they give you an instant Geisha look and add a rich oriental essence to your outfit!
Who would you say the Uroco woman is?
We always design our pieces for people who love art and design, who have original style, who are always challenging new things and who want stand out from the crowd.
Which other designer on Boticca do you admire most?
It is so difficult to choose as there are so many talented designers on Boticca, but one of my favorite designers is Krista R. I like her unique way of mixing beautiful materials with many different colors, almost making them a piece of art. I also like MANOLO, her hand painted cameo style brooches go very well with my vintage clothes.
So what’s next for Uroco?
In the next few weeks I will be going to Japan, with the help of my mother, to search for new fabrics and materials. When I get back to the UK I will use these to work on new ideas and begin designing for the new collection.