In 2023, the fashion brand “YUIMA NAKAZATO” presented a collection inspired by the experience at a garbage dump in Kenya for the second consecutive season at “Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.” “I couldn’t depict my experience in Nairobi’s garbage heaps in one sitting,” says Yuma Nakazato, the designer who leads the brand.
Nakazato visited Nairobi’s garbage dump, where clothing waste from all over the world ends up, and which has the infamous nickname of the “clothing graveyard.” Nakazato describes the scene, which is filled with the smell of rot as waste other than cloth is mixed in, as well as flames and smoke from spontaneous combustion, as “representing the end of the world.”
However, when he squinted his eyes at that gruesome place, he recalls seeing a slightly different landscape. “The colors of the clothes and plastic felt strangely beautiful. Only the strong colors caught my eye, and they began to look like jewels.”
This scene is the origin of “COUTURE AUTUMN/WINTER 2023-24”, which YUIMA NAKAZATO announced in Paris in the summer of 2023. “Trash becomes trash the moment you think it doesn’t need people anymore. So, I thought it might be possible to reverse that meaning.”
Represent the garbage mountain in red
The theme of Nakazato’s collection is “red.” Nakazato says that the inspiration for the colors was Katsushika Hokusai’s “Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, Clear Wind,” commonly known as “Red Fuji.” “By painting mountains in red instead of the familiar blue and white, Hokusai replaced the meaning of Mt. Fuji. He wanted to express the same thing with a mountain of garbage.”
The red color of the collection is silk organdy printed with a red image of Kenya’s trash piles. For printing, a new digital printing machine from Seiko Epson, with which YUIMA NAKAZATO has been partnering since the Spring/Summer 2023 collection, was used. Compared to conventional textile printing, this printing machine requires fewer steps, waste, and water usage, and has improved color development, abrasion resistance, and flexibility.
In contrast to the lightness of silk organdy, jackets and coats made from non-woven fabrics had a heavy presence. The raw material is 150 kg of used clothes that Nakazato brought back from Kenya (not from the garbage dump mentioned earlier, but rather the sorted clothes before they reach the dump).
Seiko Epson’s Dry Fiber Technology, which can loosen and process fiber materials, was used to create the nonwoven fabric. This technology, which processes textile materials using almost no water, had already been put to practical use by upcycling paper, but this was the first time it was made from used clothing. Using this technique, used clothing was cut into small pieces, dyed black, and processed into 50m long non-woven sheets.