Based at our head office in Tokyo, Akiko Kiura (Ako) has been a designer with the company for over 20 years.
Here, she gives an insight into life as a member of the Yaccomaricard design team and discusses her design influences.
1.When and why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Ever since I was little, I enjoyed styling clothes. My mother was a designer with a boutique, selling her own designs and other brands. I would spend a lot of time playing with clothes and accessories, which eventually became an interest in design.
2.You studied fashion in Japan and London. How was the London experience?
I studied in Osaka and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in womenswear at Central St Martins in London. I found the course fascinating, and I was able to experience the work of classmates from all over the world. I could also share my different perspectives and ideas on design with them.
That experience was priceless and still informs my design work today.
3.What's a typical workday like?
Most of my day is spent on design conception, which involves developing new techniques and details. I work on an idea and request the production team in Thailand to make a small piece of it, and then we think about how to incorporate it into future collections.
A typical day also includes design checking and approving toiles and samples with the pattern cutting and planning team. I have daily online meetings with our Thailand team to talk about fabric development, which can involve discussions on screen printing and embroidery.
4.What's the best part of your job?
I get a lot of enjoyment when a flat design drawing is understood by our pattern cutting team and then actually transformed into a three-dimensional toile.
5.What are your design influences?
It comes from various sources; it can be an art piece in a museum or gallery, a style from fashion history or a style I see on the street.
If I had to choose one, I would say I am most strongly influenced by past and contemporary fashion, especially from film.
Rather than simply being influenced by the costumes in the film, I am more interested in looking at the costumes of a film's cast and seeing how the director wants to present the main character.
It may be better to say that I am influenced by how the creators express themselves.
6.What is your favourite piece of design?
If I wasn't a fashion designer, I'd work in interior design. I admire the interiors of cave dwellings, particularly in Cappadocia, Turkey, and Matera, Italy. I personally like the wilder ones. The houses are designed to retain most of the natural material (rocks and stones) with their bulges and curves and use them to blend with practical interiors. I am strongly attracted to organic shapes and textures that are not artificially designed.
7.What womenswear designers do you admire?
I have chosen two designers who are very different from each other: Miuccia Prada and Jil Sander.
The Miuccia Prada collection makes you feel as if you are looking at the main character in a movie. This pinpoint focus and the fusion of the old and the new are unique. I am stimulated by originality while also respecting the inheritance of past identities.
In contrast, Jil Sander works without regard to past fashion. She has a real "never before" approach. It's modern and avant-garde and specialises in materials, cutting, and craftsmanship. Even though there are many menswear-like materials and clean, minimal cuts, It's somehow incredibly feminine. It's because of the silhouette and the effect of accessories that stand out against minimalist clothes.
8.What's your favourite style from the Yaccomaricard autumn and winter collection?
I love the off-body shape of our Deco Raglan Blouse. The sleeves end perfectly at the hemline, and the raw-edged jersey on the raglan seam is a neat detail. I also enjoy the volume, length and applique detail of the Geo Applique Trouser; they have a real impact.
9.Describe your own style?
I aim for a quiet luxury in my clothing; there must be a sense of effortlessness and minimalism with a hint of quirkiness.
10.What are your favourite Yaccomaricard shapes to wear?
I like to be slightly oversized in my clothing; those shapes work well for me. The volume and firmness created by pintucks, and especially the natural bounce and shape created by micro pintucks, are favourites of mine. I also enjoy the garment dye colour range of washed silk.