Ahead of New York Fashion Week last September, WWD shortlisted Manonik as a brand to watch off the runway. There were a number of reasons for it — namely designer Yoshiyuki Minami’s seamless ability to weave pillars of sustainability, labor-intensive textile design and slow, considered production into a genderless, artful collection. His process relies heavily on the loom, where both intentional imperfections and spontaneous snags are not only commonplace, but a hallmark to Minami’s design m.o.
Last summer, the textile artist was experimenting with local and internationally sourced fibers such as hemp and silk-covered steel to create his own unique fabric swatches, simultaneously utilizing discarded threads with an eye toward zero waste production. To recall just how laborious a process Minami undertakes, fibers can take up to a year to become available, and once so, will require the designer about four months of nonstop weaving to craft a 12-piece collection.
His 2020 collection, which he debuted during Paris men’s market, has utilized almost all the swatches he was toying with (roughly seven). Not classified to any gender, pieces focus on tailoring, oversize fits and ease to wear despite their elaborate construction.
“I was thinking about what I was really interested in when I started making cloth,” Minami said during a preview. “It was embracing imperfections and the second thing was textures and using alternative fibers that are not commonly available. I think that’s the theme behind this collection.”
Alternative, and unique, indeed. The aforementioned rough hemp was woven into a lightweight knit with elongated sleeves that will soften after each wash and when applied with heat, while the silk-covered steel was made into a cool semi-sheer double-layered shirt. The more experimental dressers will appreciate the various conceptual ways to wear the latter — as a sheer T with the tank hanging in the back, or alternatively with the T hanging in back. “Once you wash it you can mold it however you want,” Minami said of the fabric’s reaction to water. “Shrunken left as is, or stretched out for a looser fit.”
Outerwear proved to be a strong category and included a blazer made with washable Japanese washi paper, a salvaged bull denim jacket with thousands of hand-done French knots akin to an ostrich pattern, and a denim coat topped with nontoxic paint and personalized Japanese messaging, including one character representing being in the middle of a space, another meaning to go forward, and the designer’s personal motto, “Make reality.”
Rounding out a collection sitting at the intersection of sustainability, craft and casual-yet-refined design were pieces made with zero-waste patterning, including a drape-y merino jersey top with hand-cut holes, indigo denim jeans and baggy hand-woven hemp trousers.
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