This past week, I had the fabulous opportunity to meet with the three main designers of all of the Natori brands (Josie, Natori, JN, N Natori, and Ready-to-wear) for lunch. It was an incredibly educational experience for me and I learned so much, as I walked away with a much deeper understanding (and appreciation) for all the work that goes into designing clothes. It is such a complex process! There are so many different steps it takes to get a finished product sold in a store.
At Natori, there is a main design theme each season (for us non-fashion people — there are two main seasons — Fall and Spring) which gives the designers a better sense of direction and inspiration for the lines. Although there are many collections at Natori (Josie Natori, Natori, Josie, N Natori) — they all work within the same theme for a given season. The themes are often destinations or exotic places of the East– the current Fall 2012 theme is Mongolia. They are currently working on Spring 2013, the theme of which is the Philippines (very appropriate). Once they are given the theme, the designers research in depth — history, culture, traditions, textiles, costumes, colors, mood etc. They look at every part of the theme for inspiration and guidance in their designs.
Then, together as a team, they work on finding the right prints to use in the collection. Prints are what drive the collection, and are what Natori is best known for. Finding, tweaking, changing and making the print is a huge task on its own. In addition to the prints, each collection tends to have color themes for each month’s delivery (two main colors per delivery with various supporting colors). As the stores keep the past month with the current month’s collection on the floor, it is important that the colors blend together well and look good next to each other (who knew all this thought went into choosing colors?!?!) The colors change each month and each season. Holy shmoly — lots of work!
Once the colors and prints are established, the team works on creating the prototypes of the bodies, sourcing the fabrics and trims, and coming up with the ultimate design. At the beginning of the process, hundreds of designs are created, and at each stage, the number is dwindled down — to 80 to 50 to 30. Just because something is in the showroom during market week does not mean that it is going to be bought by the stores. So a lot of beautiful designs that take so much time to create never turn into actual clothes. So much work!
So as you can see, it is not as easy as sketching and then sewing an item together. Having a collection — a cohesive and dynamite whole composition of dozens of pieces — of multiple lines — takes a tremendous amount of time, skill, artwork, motivation, inspiration, direction, creativity, and passion. The Natori Company thrives on this passion and love, and as a result, its products are beautiful, wearable, fashion-forward, comfortable, and true pieces of art. Natori truly brings art to life.
Until Friday, have a great week! I hope you appreciate each article of clothing more, now that you have a better sense of all the work and thought that goes into everything.
Anika Yael Natori, aka The Josie Girl.