Encyclopedia of niime

niime History Chapter 3

Just the way it is and the Only One

2019 . 04 . 01

“Our brand philosophy is not like the one of the so-called fashion industry giants. ” As Sakai says, ‘tamaki niime’ embodies the passion of creation, the value of the one and the only works with its spirit of freedom.

Let me pick apart the words Ms Tamaki dropped throughout the interview about her own theory to mirror the beauty found from moment-to-moment. A dissection of her ‘just the way it is, no-frills style’ journey on how Ms Tamaki has ended up with her non-mass production and the ‘Only One’ creation style.

No frills, no embroideries

In the fashion world or in other industries, in my opinion, there’s a tendency to do excessive “directing” to show off their brands and products. I don’t say we don’t do that at all. We do consider how to display our products on Instagram, and so on. We can overexaggerate our products, for example, on a website if we want to because it is a virtual world. It is not impossible to make products look luxurious using high-end models in catalogues and websites. But think about the environment of manufacturing, that no one cares about. I feel there is a kind of gap there. You know what I am saying. Like showing the front entrance, which is products and brands, beautifully, but the backyard is full of mess. That kind of fake world seems to be meaningless to me.

Show as it is

Like women do make-up daily, I understand why they need to put the make-up on when they know they need to remove it again every single night. Of course, I am not totally forcing our staff to come to work without make-up on since it is historically, and continuously, as traditionally they put make-up on to exhibit beauty in women. However, honestly, I feel that make-up is kind of a waste personally. You know, they’ve gotta wake up early to put make-up on, then they gotta remove it at the end of a long day, again and again. I’m a woman who is as it is. Ideally, I wish people would recognize themselves as glorious and nice people inside without putting anything on.

Bridging the gap between the real and the virtual

In that sense, what we have been trying to do since the beginning brings the real world closer to the Internet and media world. Paying attention to how to exhibit our creations realistically, such as the layout and lighting of Shop & Lab is an important matter to us. Of course, when shooting them, we must adjust the amount of light and want to make it look more beautiful. As well, we want to make sure the Internet and media versions are not entirely different; instead they are consistent and seamless between them.

Unlike the places where products are sold being luxurious and fabulous, where to create, eat and sell should be be darker or less tidy. That is not what I want it to be. Of course, I know, there are many things we could do better, and I am hoping our brand levelling up succeeds; I also want to focus on how to exhibit our creations. Because I want to avoid the gap between realistic and promotional exhibition, I am approaching how to elevate our brand as a whole. That is the thing I really am concerned about. I’d be happy if people say, “there is no gap (between the real one and the promotional one.)” I hope people say that it is exactly the same site they saw on Instagram. I don’t want to show our products to look weird on Instagram, which is kind of uncool.

How did I come to such an idea? I thought that if we don’t know where it is made and who made it, we couldn’t feel that glue to the products we enjoy. Like how knowing how the fruits and vegetables we eat are harvested and grown helps our enjoyment.

The day to set the goal to create the Only One.

When I was a little girl, I observed clothing as a consumer. I enjoyed choosing outfits when I went to wholesale stores with my parents, who were boutique owners. It was such fun choosing my own outfit. I was very into coordinating different outfits every day. But, one day, I noticed that there were tons of the same clothing displayed in the store. When I realized that what I had was already everywhere, I had a strange and unpleasant feeling. I was just a little girl but wondered why so many of the same things are needed. I searched for something special to me and enjoyed doing it, but in reality, those same things will be worn by so many people out there…oh, no. That was how I felt. I guess I have been seeking “the one and the only” from then on, somehow. From then on, I started wishing to get my own clothing, just only for myself, that I really fell in love. So, there must be others who wish the same. This idea has led our current business philosophy, “our business style = the “Only One” (the one and only)”.

The pursuit of the perfect pattern for clothing

When I started working as a pattern maker, I was hooked on amazing patterns. Years later, when I launched my own brand, I was seeking the perfection of a pattern that was so irresistible that other people couldn’t resist. And still, I have been thinking about what the beautiful pattern really is. That is why our brand was started as “select-made” (similar to “made-to-order”). I was trying to make a perfectly fitted shirt with a beautiful silhouette for that person. However, no matter how perfect a pattern is drawn, because the body shape of each individual is different, strange wrinkles will come out, and it will not be like the silhouette you imagined. So, I felt that drawing a perfect pattern is wasteful. I feel that is nothing but self-satisfaction.

The transition to the real clothing that anyone can wear

Although the unique body features that all of us can be different, no matter how hard we create the perfect patterns, we realized that it is impossible to pursue true beauty without going to the haute couture and tailor worlds, so we shifted our mindset 180 degrees. Our design has come together because we did not give up the exploration of the perfect pattern concept, that is gender, age, and size-free: anyone can wear and look good, kind of clothing. After we designed “only one shawl”, we realized that not only accessories but all clothing can be like “only one shawl”. I guess, in other words, the shawl pulled our design up to the next level.

While the opposite approach is evident, in terms of the one and only creation, the pursuit of the made-to-order silhouette and Tamaki’s creations after the “only one shawl” has been consistent.

Selecting and purchasing the one and only items. Then, wearing them. Imagining such a special relationship between the client and the work is an uplifting feeling that the client has when they acquired one.

Tamaki Niime is a creator who naturally does not lose the common consumer mindset. This is key as to why her creation has never been about self-satisfaction and kept her a widely supported artist.

As for staying the way it is, the evolution of her creation by being genuine and authentic in how she exhibits her creation with a no-frilled real voice. This is the brand, “tamaki niime.”

Original Japanese text by Seiji Koshikawa.
English translation by Adam & Michiko Whipple.