Red Dot Design Museum Singapore and Noriko Masaki discuss matters closer to the heart....
What was your inspiration behind starting Sumire the Violet?
The biggest inspiration is of course, my son. After moving to Singapore from Japan when he was a baby, I found it a bit challenging to find clothing that was suitable (style-wise and budget-wise). I tend to be on the lookout for clothing made of natural fabrics, that is suitable for the climate here, easy to put on and take off and still remain playful, yet stylish, within an okay budget. The kind of clothing that I wanted my son to wear and hence purchase for him weren’t easy to find here in Singapore. Having a bit of background in sewing and designing, I decided to make a few of them on my own for him, and this marked the birth of Sumire the Violet.
Why did you choose to maintain your focus on Japanese clothing?
I am half-Japanese and half-Singaporean. People sometimes ask whether I am more of one side or the other. Usually I feel more Singaporean when I am in Japan and I feel more Japanese when I am in Singapore. Having said that, I am fascinated by the aesthetics of Japan, both old Japan and new Japan. I love Japanese style and fashion but I don’t think it can work just about anywhere in the world if you just imported it all directly. I wanted to bring aspects of it over to tropical Singapore and do our own interpretation of Japanese silhouettes, materials and patterns and to make them relevant to the people here.
What is your favourite thing about being a designer?
Being able to flex my creative muscles and being able to make people look beautiful as well as confident, in their own skin. This in a way, is the ability to make a positive difference in the world. But, truly, the best thing is that, inspiration can be found anywhere and it can come to you at anytime. I find that very refreshing.
What are your long term plans for your brand? In terms of expansion, hopes, reach, etc?
Right now, my sister and I work for the brand right in the middle of our living/dining room. We hope to one day in the near future get a workspace, whether an atelier or a production studio, we just need a bit more space! We also have hopes to transplant our work back to Japan, whether it is to use the regional silhouettes, styles and fabric and have them translated into life over there. We are also now focusing on vintage kimono fabrics as well as designs and turning them into clutches and formalwear for adults, and hope to have a wider, regional, if not global, reach! After all, as a brand, we want to craft meaningful Japanese items and make them accessible as well as relevant to everyone.
How did you first find out about MAAD, and when did you first join?
Our friends invited us for a night out to check out MAAD a couple of years ago and a little bit after that, we had a neighbor who actually suggested that we try out by having a booth there as she participates in MAAD quite regularly herself! We first joined MAAD in June 2016.
What is your motivation in joining the event?
We feel that the best way to reach people is to talk to them. We believe in communicating and educating people about our brand and our products. We want them to touch, feel and understand what we are selling and the best way to do this is to be present at fairs and pop-ups.
As part of the MAAD community, how do you think MAAD can improve and continue to grow?
We hope MAAD will continue and at locations that wouldn’t be too far off. We hope there will be different themes or causes of MAAD that we could take part in. We would also like a different system established to better be able to get the space that we'd like, as vendors. Perhaps MAAD could also consider having networking sessions for people in the industry or hold workshops for us to learn from one another and also from other people and professionals.
How has MAAD affected your art and craft?
Because MAAD is/was quite regular, we appreciated that we could always know when we can do a pop-up this helped us with our operational and production flow. Also because of its regularity, we can study and learn about the audience and actually have our own regular customers that we’ve built a connection with. All these points actually play a part in inspiring our products and art.
instagram + facebook: @sumiretheviolet