News

July Meeting Recap: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

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/. 

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