Encyclopedia of niime

Being "新雌(niime)."

2019 . 07 . 01

”To create a new society where women can shine.”

That’s Tamaki Niime regularly mentions. She puts her heart and determination into the name “新雌(niime)” that she would like to express and propose “the new female image.”

This time, the talk session is about being a woman; being “新雌(niime)”. And about the meaning in depth and value that the only creation has.

“The other day, Dr Nobuko Igaki of Kwansei Gakuin University visited us with Motoko Ide, author of the book “Secretarial Power.” After enjoying a tour of the Shop & Lab, We, three women immediately started conversing right there about various subjects. The key concept was “Women should keep challenging in the new era.” She said she felt in tune with the name 新雌(niime) .”

 the name 新雌(niime) made her heart jump

– It must have been a conversation between three women with great awareness. Would you tell me the reason you named yourself 新雌(niime) again?

“I’ve always elicited an unusual reaction to the phrase because of men or women. I don’t know why. Someone said because I was a persecuted woman in my previous life. Anyway, you usually don’t talk about making a new female image. You don’t have to mention it, but my father had “雄(male)” for his name, so I felt I needed “雌(female)” for mine. It was like a rivalry with men. I always asked myself; why do we have discrimination? I think equality is good. I’ve been struggling to know the answer. This is how I feel, but what do you think? That’s what I would like to ask people, so I guess I use “雌(female)” specifically.”

– If you dare to call it “新雌(new female)”, it would also lead to everyone’s awareness of the way women should be.

“I have not particularly been persecuted as a woman, though. I am a generation who has not been told to get married or not to work because I am a woman. My parents didn’t say such things while I was raised and I’ve been left to my own choice. However, realistically speaking, I think there is still problem with discrimination against women in society.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Law was revised in 1999. Until then, it was an effort goal; however, it became prohibited to give gender differences in working conditions such as recruitment, initial appointments, job placement and promotions. A few years later, Tamaki got a job at a textile trading company.

“When I was an employee, however, serving tea was a female role. It was an unspoken rule back then. Eventually, it was fading out, and I experienced that time was changing; women gradually not to quit their job to get married. Even if they get married, they can get back to work after maternity leave. I felt it would become a social trend. It doesn’t mean that women should be stronger than men but to be independent; women used to rely on men. It should be not a dependent relationship that women cannot live without men, and women should be strong enough to stand on their own feet to survive in the new era. That’s I would like to express with my name.”

– From the way of creation and the brand as tamaki niime, I feel the attitude that you are trying to draw out the value only from women have that men do not have.

I’ve never thought of being a woman or being a man; however, when it comes to choosing colours, more women have better colour identification. Not only Banshu-ori but in the world of the apparel, even though customers are almost all women, the president, sales and weaving artisans are most likely men. So I wanted to ask them if they understood. It is clear for me if customers like it or not if they’re going to pay for it or not, because I am a woman. I have a third eye. I have to follow it to create; however, men have to ask if their wife would buy it or not. To create things from zero, we have to make various choices, and everything is a combination, right? If you make a mistake in the process, it will not be a satisfying creation any more. So I felt that women are superior because they understood sensuously. Of course, I do not think that it is suitable for women to do everything, and I understand each person’s strong point and weak point, and good points that men or women have. I thought that it was kind of wasteful. For example, salespersons are women at the store, but sales reps are not. Or even making and weaving fabrics should be linked to female sensibility to create more comfortable clothes. So I don’t understand why only men think about the idea. It would be faster if we let the saleswomen make their own favourite clothes (to wear).”

– Their original ideas that are directly related to female customers, right?

“It used to be that way clothes were made. Mothers hand-woven for their children at home. They wove for the children and husband in their own favourite way.”

– My mother used to make children’s clothes in my family as well.

“Mothers used to make a decision about clothing a long time ago. That was an original form.”

– Thinking in that way, we’ll get to the concept of creating clothes focusing on life.

“I guess it’s the original. It is a gift from parents; the only one.   People love something that is loved. It faded out because of the mass-production trend. When I was in kindergarten, people were jealous of children whose mothers made handmade clothes.”

– In my case, I grew up during Showa’s high-growth period when Japan became a consumer society, so I was jealous of the children who got ready-made clothes.

“On the other hand, I was raised when the mass production and consumption systems were already set. So, I felt it’s more wealthy that full-time homemaking mothers who have more time to make clothes for her family.”

– That’s totally opposite.

“It’s not because mothers had to make them, but it is because mothers have leisure time to do it. So, when we were children, we had a sense of quality things that are not mass-produced. Not many people had that kind of thought. Back then, however, there was still a sewing machine in the family and mothers could do hand-sewing. Even if mothers were busy, they could sew clothes if they were a little conscious. That was the time. Now, however, there is no longer a sewing machine at home. Home economics class is being reduced, and some people cannot use sewing machines any more. “

– Listening to your story, I realized that tamaki niime’s trials as a brand are the cutting edge of the era and also fundamental to the origin.

“Actually, it’s definitely the “fundamentals”. I think that the origin is absolutely better.”

– The only creation is to return to the “fundamentals” of people’s lives.

“I think that mass production and consumption are good for business because efficient; however, the affection and the feelings to cherish things are… fading away…maybe because in terms of business, it would be such an inefficient thing.”

The only creation, which leads to traditional handmade products just like mothers’ sewing clothes for the family. Viscerally, Tamaki has a certainty about its value.

The whole concept of tamaki niime may be a soft rejection of society; the current course which has been driven by a patriarchal initiative with an emphasis on rising and efficient priority in Tamaki’s way.

“Even with looms, the idea is that to develop the latest machines to avoid mistakes and to weave perfect textiles efficiently in the fashion industry. I felt that soft and comfortable creations will not be born from there …it’s kinda interesting.”

– When the shawl was released, I believe there were a lot of people who felt “Oh, yes, this is it!”

“They might have felt the same way. I think they were waiting for it.”

– It’s a big hit, isn’t it? Like the Big Bang.

“I really appreciated it. I used to believe everybody was thinking about what I was thinking. I thought we had 100% same mindset; however, I was surprised to know that it was not like that at all. I had a strong self-confidence because I believed in it.”

– You have embodied what everyone had thought potentially, haven’t you?

“I’m very glad people like it.”

Tamaki’s enthusiastic pursuit of creation was unknowingly overlapped with the soft texture and feelings, the various colours, and something comfortable that many women had been longing for.

Tamaki always asks herself that how women should stand and live in a society now and in the future, and that is strongly reflected the various practices in which the way of the tamaki niime brand and creation.

And as an icon, Tamaki, who continues such efforts, is taking on the form of a new female image.

tamaki niime (玉木新雌) will continues to evolve, making women lively and shine.

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