When I first came across Maki co. (@makico.art.jp) on Instagram, I was blown away by the creativity and homage to Japanese culture that the brand embodies. Ethical and sustainable, Maki co. is about revitalising pre-loved kimonos into versatile pieces that can be worn by people of all ages around the globe. Maki co.’s creator took the time to talk to us about her inspiration and philosophy of sustainability that encompasses what the brand is about.
Q: Could you please introduce yourself to us? for example, who are you and what is maki co. about?
Hi Olly! And lovely people who are reading her blog! Thanks again for offering me this interview 💕My name is Makiko and you can call me Maki. I am turning 22 next month, and I’m a senior uni student majoring in linguistics in Japan. My major is completely different from what I do for my shop (haha). I’ve always been passionate about creating beautiful things and being in nature since I was a little kid. My hometown is a small city that has beautiful sea and rivers where you can swim and fish. I’ve also lived in a gorgeous mountain village, and I miss that sustainable, simple life so much..(especially because we’re living in this chaos right now, haha)
Maki co. is an ethical, slow fashion brand that provides reworked pieces that are made from pre-loved kimonos. All items are handmade with love by me. I do all the processes by myself from making to web designing, photography and marketing. My purpose is to bring pre-loved kimonos back to our daily lives, and share the beauty with young generations all around the world.
Q: you specialise in revitalising vintage kimonos into modern pieces, right? what inspired you to start doing this?
Yes. I’ve always loved kimonos. They’re just so unique and beautiful, I could even spend a day just staring at them (lol). My grandma used to wear them as daily outfits even though many people had already stopped wearing them at the time. Although they’ve been slightly coming back as a trend in recent years, they are worn mostly only for special occasions like summer festivals and celebrations. Well, it’s good that they’re not completely gone and lots of young people enjoy wearing them, but I’ve had this thought, “If we could wear kimonos way more casually and easily, that’d be amazing!” Because as you might know, it is pretty complicated to wear a kimono. It’s quite tiring and time consuming if you’re not used to it. So that was one of the inspirations for creating dresses and jackets that still look like the original kimono.
The reason why I only use vintage kimonos is that I do not want to produce new products since garment waste has already been a huge issue. I try to make my brand as sustainable as possible. Each kimono was loved by the previous owner and has many stories, so some of them have some minor stains or damages, but they are absolutely too beautiful to go to waste.
Q: you’re based in japan; foreigners often hear about kintsugi and from my experience there are a lot of second hand stores like off house and second street. From your perspective is there a strong culture of reusing/remaking in japan? did this have any impact on your decision to start maki co.
I am based in Japan, and I’ve also attended schools in Australia as a kid. I think there’s definitely a strong culture of reusing things here in Japan. In terms of fashion, thrifting has always been popular, but I feel like as more of like a fashion style, than for environmental reasons. When I made a decision to try to live more ethically, and be committed to sustainable fashion, I was actually in Australia, studying environmental science and business at uni there for a year. I was so impressed by how people and the society were conscious of our environmental impacts. I think that was one of the biggest impacts on my decision to start my ethical brand.
“If we could wear kimonos way more casually and easily, that’d be amazing!”Makiko, of maki co.
Q: how do you source your kimonos?
I purchase most of the kimonos from Kyoto. They were worn by the previous owners, or likely to be rented out by lots of people including tourists at kimono rental shops. I purchase those kimonos that are no longer in use. And some were donated to me since they had just been sitting in the back of their closets.
Q: sustainability has always been important, but it’s been growing as a movement in recent years. WHat would you want to see from the fashion industry regarding this?
This is kinda difficult to sum up because there’s a lot of things to discuss about this topic… I would like sustainable, ethical fashion to be ‘normal’. Well, I’m really glad to see more people realising the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry, but seemingly it’s still a movement or a trend and far away from being ‘normal’ yet. Fast fashion is still in great demand all over the world, and I think this needs to be over to make the fashion industry more sustainable and ethical. And in order to do that, the entire world needs to know how fast fashion and the whole industry impact on the environment and people. And I hope there’s going to be many more people who join our sustainable, ethical journey and can make better choices in the near future.
Q: what’s your process for deciding which products to make?
First, I look at the kimono and think about what kind of design would be the best for its unique features. When the kimono is in great condition inside out, it can be transformed into a dress or jacket. Some kimonos have to be unstitched and separated from the linings to be made into other items that don’t have the kimono features, such as shirts and tops due to the conditions. I mainly take custom orders to avoid overproduction and to create something that the person would love and wear for a long time. And I also make something that I personally think it’s so pretty and would like to wear 🙂
Q: there’s a lot of social media activity in japan and around the world where young people (Especially young women) are talking about societal issues. in your opinion, what can young people do to make positive change?
It only takes a second for everything to be spread all around the world on social media, and it’s getting more and more difficult to identify if it’s true or false. So in my opinion, sharing all the things we find on social media doesn’t always have a good influence even when you’re trying to make positive change. I think it’s important to do some research by yourself and learn what you can do to make change, and most importantly, DO something you can do. It doesn’t matter if it’s tiny thing that doesn’t seem to be making change. Because small steps add up to big results!
Q: finally, what’s your most important piece of advice for people who want to start remaking?
Hmm, try to make whatever you like!💞Maybe start with something easy and choose gorgeous fabric (or whatever you would like to remake ) that can make you happy by just looking at it (lol) so that you can enjoy all the process of making. And keep on creating beautiful things because you only get better at it!