Mame’s Memory of Homeland

September 30, 2021

Maiko Kurogouchi spent several years designing women’s wear for Issey Miyake before founding Mame Kurogouchi in 2010. Her collections embody contemporary femininity grounded in timeless design, which she develops season after season by merging traditional savoir-faire and cutting-edge technology. 

How do you define the future?

The future is in the past — which means we must learn from the past and take action from the closest world around us. If we think about tomorrow, for instance, the hope is that we can change the distant future. 

Why is the future such an important element of fashion?

Because innovation and improvement are always important for every industry.

How do you imagine your brand evolving over the next decade?

To continue what we’ve been doing. It’s been 10 years since the inception of Mame Kurogouchi, but every day is filled with discovery and learning.

I get more and more inspiration from Japanese culture and history and I very much enjoy experimenting with how to fuse this into garments. I also want to focus on translating what I have learned into new materials and technologies. I’m eternally in love with natural materials; but at the same time, I’ve been working in new ways to find materials that meet the demands of the future.

What is one thing we can start doing now that could positively impact our future?

I think it’s extremely important for fashion to find and cherish the beauty in the inner circle of your daily life. I really wish our customers will love what they buy and have, and to cherish these pieces for a long time. I always tell my self I should never stop looking after beauty in life.

What concerns you about the future?

Fear and concern exist in the past too. I try not to sink into negative thoughts because there are so many things that excite me in my life. One should never forget to keep dialogue open. 

What excites you about the future?

There are so many ideas I want to try but have never been able to, so I’m opening the door of ideas one by one, embarking on research, or communicating with artisans across Japan about new, original fabrics. I’m very happy that I’m able to do what I like with my incredible team.

Do you think about the future when creating a collection?

I don’t think about the future when I create a collection. When I’m working on it, I live in my dreams, my fantasies and my memory. I think about the future when I switch on as a company president.

What is the most defining idea or look in this collection?

Regarding texture, it was interesting to contemplate on how to materialise my foggy memory into fabric. There is a transparent silk fabric with a field flower jacquard pattern in which I mixed shimmering, transparent fibre and dyed it in a beautiful gradation colour. In terms of the shape, I focused on curved lines. I have always been mesmerised by how this small detail makes a woman’s body look so elegant. When I was preparing for our 10th year anniversary exhibition, I was reunited with my old archives. So I updated the cut, pattern and silhouette and wanted to introduce them once again. You can see iconic holes on many pieces this season, which I introduced in 2011. I tried to communicate with my memory through these holes. The curved holes bring out the beauty of a woman’s body and praise it. 

How does this collection compare to your past collections?

This season I got inspired by my own past, my memory of homeland Nagano through the preparation for the anniversary exhibition. By this means, I see this collection as an answer to my past and to my hometown. The whole process reminded me of the importance of remembering the past, not to be trapped in the idea of creating new.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

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