Fashion’s Future

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Fashion has always had a way of marking time. The archaic and medieval Victorian corset or the repression of the mid-century housewife’s dresses and pearls serve as mile markers for the progress of humanity. We scoff at standards of fashion from our past and proceed to congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come. But for Tamae Hirokawa, it isn’t far enough.

This Japan-based designer has re-imagined the concept of dressing one’s self and reshaped it into the pinnacle of modernity through the innovative use of digital technology. Her collection, titled Second Skin, uses a digital process where the inner structure and the outer design are created simultaneously and molded together, denying the need for old fashioned thread and needle. To view this collection is like glancing into fashion’s bright, efficient future and fashion of the past instantly becomes outdated. Following her highly successful runway show at Tokyo Fashion Week, we spoke with Tamae and discussed Somarta and the future of couture as it begins to unfold before us through her revolutionary work.

Can you describe what defines Digital Couture and why it seemingly remains under-utilized in modern fashion?

We are entering a new era in which digital technology is in our everyday lives. The definition of Digital Couture means striving to make the highest quality garments while utilizing various forms of digital technology.

Although digital technology is found in our everyday lives and even contemporary fashion, I would like to suggest that by creating the definition of Digital Couture signifies that we have entered the age of Digital Couture.

Many vendors maintain hand-made production processes in order to convey quality and attention to detail, in what ways do you think Digital Couture is and will continue to revolutionize this way of thinking?

Based on the system of Prét-å-porter and mass production, the twentieth Century was a time of development in mass-production systems. However, this has put all other forms of creative production on the verge of extinction due to the declining number of skilled craftsmen paired with the lack of people to continue the business.

Digital technology aids in the development and spread of information and will likely lead to more development and newer technology.

Of course, there is something special about things that are handmade. In actuality, most digital technologies are highly influenced by the developers’ own intuitions, so I don’t see much of a difference with handmade items. I understand that we are in an age where this is a difficult thing to see, so I feel that it is very important to get this message across.

Tell us about the tribal influence and other aesthetic styles represented in the Spring/Summer Somarta collection.

We are the Native Digital Race that was born at the beginning of the digital era. I am expressing my idea of a digital race that transcends borders and has no nationality.

Where do you see the future of the fashion industry going with the continued development of new technology?

In an era of material abundance, I feel that we need to re-asses what we really need. People are seeking things within the oversaturated fashion offerings that express themselves. The digital technology age allows us to once again create one-of-a-kind items and expanded the possibilities of creative production.

If designers think of new ways to express their ideas, then I think there is a future for creative production.

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Text by Jennifer Moulaison
Photography by Sinya Keita