By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern
The 2016-17 FEW year ended with our monthly meeting on July 13, where we were joined by guests and members to hear about the endeavors of longtime FEW member, Melanie Uematsu.
Melanie was born in Germany and studied fashion design in Berlin and London. Fascinated with Japan, she first came to Japan as an exchange student, interning at Tsumori Chisato. Another scholarship brought her back to Japan in 2003, this time as a Uniqlo designer. However, just as they had mentioned in her interview, Uniqlo was a clothing company, not a design company and she “wouldn’t be a designer” but rather a merchandiser. Bored of handling just numbers and craving for more creativity, she began working at graniph, a clothing design company. While they gave her an unlimited travel budget to connect with artists from all over the world with graniph, here she was a communicator rather than a designer. When she started to feel out of sync, questioning what her niche was, she decided this was not the place to be either. After quitting, Melanie went freelance and joined Jurgen Lehl, working more at her own pace, especially after the fast paced fashion companies she had come from.
This wasn’t enough for her, however. From trends, style, color and material to sizes, the fashion industry has to dress all people from around the world. Truth be told though, Melanie asks, how many of these mass produced clothes really suit us? To Melanie, trends did not feel inspiring and she did not feel committed to the women on the front page of Vogue magazine. Her style was not what magazines and websites for her age group told her to wear. She did not want to be limited to only 3 colors per piece, restricted by the trends and seasons and she definitely would not allow herself to fit into one of 3 sizes, small, medium or large when there were at least 12 different body shapes — not considering the different lengths of limbs and more. 40 and more different body types should not be forced to fit into a S, M or L, so in 2010, Melanie decided to open her own atelier.
With “Your ideas as inspiration, my skills to tailor it into reality” as her motto, she has helped clients from over 40 countries to make their ideas for shirts, skirts, wedding dresses and more, come true. Most have come in for her sewing classes called “Sewing Circle” where you learn to tailor in order to better communicate with your seamstress and make your own clothing, costumes and more. She not only tailors for individuals but also uses her skills to help furniture companies, advertisers or stage professionals. Each has their own individual back story as to why they are making what they are, what these clothes mean to them. Much more than just a fabric wrapped around their bodies, clothes are able to reflect us as a person which is why it is important to find your perfect fit.
Planning to utilize a new computer program this summer, Melanie hopes that her currently hand-drawn patterns will become easier to make and improve the whole outfitting process. We are excited to see what new projects Melanie will take on next.
Find out more about Melanie’s atelier at https://melanie-uematsu.com/.
Q&A with Rina Bovrisse, activist and founder of the Chateau School
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting – The Accidental Activist : From Chanel to Governor of Tokyo? – we’re featuring a quick Q&A with speaker Rina Bovrisse. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Join us for an insightful discussion next Wednesday, September 12, as Rina […]Published on 9th September 2018
Insider Intel on the Japan Market Expansion Competition
When the opportunity to apply for a Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) scholarship through FEW arose, FEW members Jane Szafraniec (pictured center left) and Nina Cataldo (pictured center) jumped at the opportunity. To understand the full extent of why this was such an amazing space to be in, they’ve shared what JMEC is, their experiences […]Published on 7th September 2018
Event Recap: TELL & FEW Presents The Feminine Eye
On Saturday, August 8th, a group of 11 people interested in learning more about photography gathered at the National Art Center in Roppongi for a women-led photo walk by Selena Hoy, TELL Outreach Coordinator and FEW Community Services Director Tia Haygood, who also is a professional photographer of TopTia Photography.Published on 3rd September 2018
September 2018 Strategic Partner Member Offers & Other News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners and other FEW Community Events here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also […]Published on 27th August 2018
How I got Here: Kirsten O’Connor
I decided at age 7, quite resolutely that I wanted to be a teacher. All my decisions thereafter created the path to a teaching qualification, a first teaching post in London, a promotion and then the biggest decision of all – to apply for a teaching job overseas. In Japan no less. Accepting a […]Published on 27th August 2018
Masterminding – Supporting your Success
People buy things because they like the story behind the brand. YOUR story is a key element to your success. Join us as we kick-off the fifth season of the FEW Women's Start-Up Club focusing on the overarching theme of shaping Your Business Story.
FEW Fundraiser Event with Strategic Partner Mom in Balance Tokyo
Start your Sunday with an energetic and fun workout in Yoyogi Park hosted by instructors and FEW members Julie Mangen and Tanja Kinnen from Mom in Balance Tokyo.
October 2018 Members Exclusive Wine Night
Join FEW for our twice-yearly members-exclusive wine night, courtesy of our Strategic Partner Oakwood Premier Midtown. Come along, network, and share your stories around a nice glass of wine in the stunning ambiance of the resident's lounge!