Regenerate the earth while enjoying fashion
The future that Yumi Komori is aiming for
We spoke with Ms. Komori, the designer of "Liv: ra" and the representative director of "TSUNAGU", about the reason for launching the brand, her thoughts on the product, and her future goals.
Good for me = Kind to earth
- Please tell us the origin of the brand and the reason why you decided to start this company
When I graduated, I got a job as a fast fashion designer, and was in the fast fashion industry which is known for "buying in large quantities and selling cheaply".
At first, I was surprised how much clothing was being disposed of ... The disposal has been attracting attention, but as a consumer, you don’t have the chance to know about it but it’s been a common practice for a while now. When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011, I began to want to know how things were made, and I became conscious of what to buy.
I started choosing organic products and consciously choosing products that were transparent but the history of my job was still very unclear. I felt uneasy with spending the money I earned from such industry on products that are good for earth, so I quit my fast fashion job and started Liv: ra in 2013.
―Please tell us your thoughts on your products.
I had doubts about buying and selling in large quantities, so I did wish not to waste any products. Therefore, we mainly sell made-to-order products aiming for almost 100% waste-free so that there are no leftovers.
I believe in “what is good for me = eco-friendly” to the earth and the environment ... The products I create are very simple, for example the silks are dyed with plant dyes. Silk is really comfortable, and plant dyeing is also good for the environment.
The first thing we want our customers to feel is what is good for them and as a result, hoping that they will learn that they are also helping the environment to improve.
―The products of "TSUNAGU" that started in 2018 use genuine indigo dyeing. What was the reason behind that decision?
I had done indigo dyeing in India, but I never pursued it because indigo dyeing is expensive.
A few days after I had a dream of going to Tokushima, and coincidentally decided to go to Shikoku, where I was introduced to the craftsman of "Aizen" for the first time.
I was impressed by the culture of Aizen and the kindness of the people involved in the process, and I wanted to make something with it, so I incorporated Aizen at TSUNAGU, which was scheduled to launch a few months later.
-I think that awareness of environmental issues in Japan has changed since the company was started, for example you need to pay for plastic bags, but has there been any change in the way products exist?
How they are sold has changed. There was a time when I was focusing on selling to as many people as I can,, but now I am selling made-to-order products mainly on the Internet.
By changing it to this, the stress I put on myself was reduced. No matter how good the products you make for society are, if you choose a method that is not sustainable for you, you will not be able to continue and will become a burden to the people around you.
By being able to continue with less complication, the recognition of the product has expanded as a result, and it circulated more efficiently.
Observe your inner self and make your own choice
-I felt that you were a person who had a strong "self". Where do you get your inspiration and maintain your style?
I think that ethical and sustainable activities have problems on the outside, but when you want to create change, I think that it’s important to know the outside situation.
If you don't go through the process of facing your inner self, you won't be able to make your own decision and, you'll end up making choices based on someone's values and common sense.
No matter how much you think about environmental issues, unless it's your own choice, it won't change the world.
I think that you not only need to gather information, but also be able to observe and hear your inner self is an important point to make a difference in the world. That's why I try to meditate, go on a journey, and capture my heart in different ways.
-While we, Millennium-Gen Z, are very sensitive to ecological and sustainable lifestyles, fast fashion has become mainstream, and we choose clothes and underwear with an emphasis on affordability. Is there anything you would like to say to those who make that decision?
The problem I feel is that while many people want to participate in ethical activities, the places they can go are limited. It makes me wonder if the path to pursuing ethical and sustainable development is often difficult for Generation Z.
Therefore, when you want to get involved, it is important to "exercise your creativity". I think that continuing to take action will shape the future, so I want you to believe in yourself and create for the long term.
The more you enjoy fashion, the earth will get sustained
-How do you want to develop your brand and products in the future?
Liv: ra works on the theme of expressing personal creativity, but I think that the world of fashion will improve if more brands like Liv: ra are created.
What I aim for with both Liv: ra and TSUNAGU is "regenerative fashion."
The mainstream of sustainable fashion is to "reduce the burden as much as possible", but regenerative fashion has a mechanism that the more you use materials that naturally reduce itself, the earth will sustain itself.
When I wanted to solve the fashion waste problem fundamentally, I felt that it was important to create a system that would not cause any problems in the first place, as well as not cause problems for the people around me. Silk is good for our body and it will be a good cycle to improve the environment, so I would like to revive Japanese silk, and I would like to complete both mechanisms within a few years.
“The goal is to improve the global environment and make people happy as they enjoy fashion,” says Komori. The future where we live in a place where it’s both kind to the earth and people might be just around the corner and where clothes are returned to the soil - just like plants.