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Beyond the Bale : March 2019
LAUNCH OF MILLER'S WINNING COLLECTION As part of Matthew Miller’s International Woolmark Prize win for 2017/18, he travelled to Tokyo to unveil his awarded collection at leading department store Takashimaya. Founded in 1829 in Kyoto, this heritage Japanese store has an impressive presence across the country and particularly in Tokyo’s central business and luxury district, Nihonbashi. It was here that Miller’s garments were prominently located for two weeks in a special International Woolmark Prize pop-up space on the ground floor; a space usually reserved for high-turnover cosmetics and women’s accessories. “The city itself is going through a revolution and it’s great to see that first hand, and something I’ve experienced before in London in the run up to the 2012 Olympics,” explained the designer. “Retail is booming and it was great to meet with some of the people behind forward-thinking retail spaces such as Dover Street Market, Takishimaya, Hankyu Men’s, Beams and United Arrows.” As part of Takashimaya’s retail partnership with AWI’s marketing subsidiary The Woolmark Company, this pop-up store also featured the womenswear and Innovation Award winning garments by Bodice Studio and DYNE, respectively, as well as those of one other International Woolmark Prize finalist, Le Kilt, whose wool-rich collection was also bought and commercialised by the department store. MILL VISITS IMPRESS MILLER After a series of media interviews, Miller then travelled to the Bishu region, known for its long history and continuing innovation in Japanese textile manufacturing. Matthew visited two mills to learn first-hand how some of the best textiles in the world are made. Firstly, Nakaden, which impressed Miller with its scale and scope given it makes both knitted and woven fabrics in a large, multi-site operation. This contrasted greatly to the second mill, Kuzuri, which uses exclusively hand-operated ancient looms in a small wood-beamed factory also housing an archive of fabric swatches – mostly wool – spanning almost 100 years. “The mills in Bishu were phenomenal, and Kuzuri blew me away. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it in the world. It was like something from a steam punk manga comic, whizzing, whirring and clattering all in a Victorian-Japanese collaboration with a post- punk soundtrack. And then at the end came out the most beautiful wool I have ever seen.” The designer also visited a state-of-the-art printing lab situated in a modernist concrete building in the middle of rice fields outside of Kyoto. “S.C Design Lab is a homage to the future of Japan,” he stated. This company is highly specialised in digital ink-jet printing on wool textile. Relative to screen printing, which is a more common method of getting patterns and images onto fabric, digital ink-jet printing is able to feature an infinite variation of colours and tones on the one textile. Screen- printing only allows for a maximum of 13. This digital methodology is relatively common for cotton, other plant-based fabrics, and of course synthetics. Wool, however, being protein-based requires different treatments for the ink-jet dyes to penetrate and stay on the fabric. S.C Design Lab, however, has researched, tweaked, and fine-tuned this extensively and has a highly-protected methodology to work with wool. For a young, experimenter like Matthew Miller, this was the designer’s equivalent of finding the golden fleece; “what they can do with digital printing is by far the best I have ever seen.” S.C Design Lab specialises in digital ink-jet printing on wool textile. Nakaden impressed Matthew Miller with its scale and scope. Last year’s International Woolmark Prize menswear winner, Matthew Miller (centre), at the launch of his winning collection at the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo. Kuzuri uses exclusively hand-operated ancient looms. British fashion designer and last year’s menswear winner of the International Woolmark Prize, Matthew Miller, journeyed east to launch his capsule collection and see how Australian wool is made into fabric, the Japanese way. OFF FARM 15
In the Shops - March 2019