Modest, Intriguing, Sophisticated - Natsumi Zama
How did you get into fashion design?
Since my childhood, my interests are handicraft and drawing. I was interested in fashion since I was a teenager and wanted to do something creative, as well as a functional job in the future, so I decided to pursue a study of clothes making.
Becoming a fashion designer was not my lifelong dream because I had a longing for the backstage personnel artisans as a pattern cutter and machinist. Through the final year at London College of Fashion, I realized the charm of designing a collection and decided to aim to be a designer.
What’s the story behind Natsumi Zama?
I studied fashion design at Bunka in Japan and graduated with BA Fashion Design and Technology, Womenswear, from the London College of Fashion in 2009. My graduate collection was showcased at an exclusive press show and received a lot of positive attention. The collection is inspired by the Traditional Japanese garment, the Kimono. After graduation, while I started to work as a freelance machinist and designer, launched my own label. The release of the collection was irregular and just on my own website for the first time. Since 2014AW, Natsumi Zama collections are released in presentation style at the twice a year Fashion Week basis.
Describe the Natsumi Zama aesthetic in three words
Modest, intriguing, sophisticated
As a designer, what are your major influences?
I think my Japanese-upbringing background and cultural experience are one of the major influences on my designs. Since when I was a child, I have been taught a way of thinking “not to waste things” and “simple is the best” from my parents. I'm not sure whether they are directly relating to it or not, but I am always attracted by simple and functional designs typified by the kimono and Japanese traditional crafts.
As for fashion, I was influenced by innovative or experimental designers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela, Hussein Chalayan etc...
What is your design philosophy?
For the first few collections, the themes were more experimental. Through the clothing design, I searched how a garment interacts with a body in my own approach. Each collection was inspired by minimalism and the aesthetics in cloth itself.
However, the design philosophy has gradually changed since I started to present my collections in exhibition style. Seeing and dealing with the customers in person, I realize that it’s more pleasure if I can make clothes which get close to the person's life. Through that experience, my designs came to be more wearable and casual. So I design clothes by imaging not only itself but also the wearer nowadays. I wish the piece to be cherished by the customers and worn throughout their lives.
How would you describe the typical Natsumi Zama wearer?
I suppose the person is a minimalist who values uniqueness.
To be honest, I do not have any particular image of a person in my mind. When I design clothes, I imagine various generations of women (or sometimes even men) wearing my design, so I welcome a diverse range of models to wear my work adding a fresh dimension to the look.
Tell us about your AW 18 collection
The theme of this collection based on the actual story that a man stole the Mona Lisa from Louvre museum in 1911. I wanted to present the 1910’s classic style and mysterious atmosphere in the collection.
While keeping the clean and simple lines I put some essence from the story such as a smock, a runaway, green colour etc… I also researched 1910’s men’s and women’s fashion and applied the silhouettes in the pieces.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on the next collections and planning for the next anniversary year.
What can we expect from Natsumi Zama over the next few years?
I started up NATSUMI ZAMA as a brand in 2009 when I graduated LCF. The next 2019 will be a big year. We’ll be launching our online shop with limited items. Moreover, it’s pleasure if we can connect with overseas customers by increasing stockists.