Collaborations and partnerships in the fashion world is always buzzing but a certain retailer has always taken a unique approach to brand partnerships. With a dazzling resume of collabs under its belt, UNIQLO has worked with small labels to big names like fashion designer Jil Sander, textile designer Celia Birtwell and French fashion icon, Ines de La Fressange. Now, the brand has teamed up with fashion designer and blogger, Hana Tajima on a collection that redefines practical, modest and stylish style. The U.K-born beauty converted to Islam at the tender age of 16 and is part of a big group of Muslim women who have mastered the concept of personal expression while covering up. Whether you’re a Muslim woman or just Sassy Girl who loves modest ensembles, Tajima’s collab with UNIQLO is all about celebrating the individual beneath her ensemble.
Hi Hana, congratulations on this amazing collaboration with UNIQLO. How does it feel being part of a project this huge?
Thank you! It’s been a wonderful experience, more so even than I had expected. I had to just look at the things in front of me rather than focus on the big picture. When it comes to designing and working on the collection, my attention is focused on nowhere else but the process. Whether I’m working for a single client or on a project like this I can’t help working it the way I know how.
Are you a personal fan of UNIQLO?
I’ve been a fan of UNIQLO since before their first UK store. Anyone coming back from Japan would have a good portion of their suitcase dedicated to UNIQLO. On any given day, it’s safe to assume that something I’m wearing is from UNIQLO, even if it’s just their socks and tees. They do wardrobe essentials better than anyone else.
What is it about the UNIQLO brand that resonates with your personal style?
They have such a specific philosophy behind ‘LifeWear’ that really resonated with me: you don’t have to think about the clothes, they just fit into your life and wardrobe.
What was the design process like for this collaboration?
I wanted to start from the absolute beginning. Throw out any ideas of what this collection should look like and explore the simple notion of combining function with perfect fit. I played with new ways of cutting and using layers as a way to add depth and comfort, and at the same time this very beautiful aesthetic concept started to develop.
In fact most of the design process is complete before my pencil ever gets to paper. It’s more malleable when it’s all in my head, I can play with the designs, adjust the construction, make huge changes, and when I do finally draw them I get to discover them in a whole other way. It keeps the element of discovery and newness that is such an important part of the process.
What are the highlights of the collection?
The fabrics that I got to work with are so light and fluid, they embody this idea of being beautiful and functional. There are also details, such as the layered sleeve, that I developed specifically for this collection.
What are your favourite pieces from the collection?
My favourite pieces change almost on a daily basis. There’s something forever classic about a white shirt and the Fly Front Shirt is my homage to that. There’s something almost masculine about it (and I am a sucker for men’s shirts), but the cut is distinctly feminine.
The Kebaya is so versatile, and because you can ‘chop and change’ it you can get a lot of wear out of it. You can even do as I did in the photo shoot and mix and match to colour-block, so the top is one colour and the skirt is another.
When I got the finished samples back for the first time I was most excited to try the Rayon Wrap Tunic. It was such an exciting piece to make because I didn’t use a sketch, instead I draped it on the stand. Because of that, it has a very organic quality to it, so whenever I wear it I feel like I’m discovering it all over again.
The collection features some hijab styles. Was there an intention for this collection to specifically target Muslim women?
I always come back to this idea that a woman is not defined as one thing. I think the modest aesthetic appeals to a lot of different women. These are very modern silhouettes, sometimes very feminine, and sometimes a little androgynous. It’s all in the way you choose to style the pieces.
While there are items which are very suitable for Muslim women, the Hana Tajima x UNIQLO collection is catered for all women who appreciate modest wear.
We know that you’re good friends with Yuna, how does it feel like to have her front the campaign with you?
Yuna and I working together on something together has been a long time coming. It was really a perfect fit, and like everything with this project it was the most natural way to do things. Watching her try pieces from the collection at the fitting for the shoot was wonderful and a little surreal.
What is the most essential piece from the collection that everyone must buy?
When it came to styling the photo shoot, the slim tapered ankle pants were incredibly useful. This is because there are no pockets or fastenings at the waist, which makes them perfect for layering under tops and tunics and maintaining a sleek silhouette.
I also have a thing for the Kebaya. I’m a sucker for anything you can wear more than one way, and with the detachable skirt you have a jacket, wrap skirt, and Kebaya in one.
Do you have some styling tips for women who’d like to try modest dressing yet look stylish and edgy at the same time?
Finding a style that reflects your personality is the most important part of building a wardrobe. If you find one perfect look that you feel confident in, use it as a uniform. Slowly, you can start to build on that and experiment knowing that you have a strong base.
Are there any other projects that you’re currently undertaking?
There are a few non-fashion projects that I’m working on, such as artwork and video collaborations.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m going to keep making things because I can’t seem to stop, but I typically like to keep projects to myself until the creative process is done. Once you let an idea out it belongs less to you and more to the world, and you have to get that timing right.
The Hana Tajima x UNIWLO collection is available at 313@Somerset, Bugis+ (selected items), OneKM (selected items) and online.
*Special thanks to our favourite PR peeps over at Word of Mouth Communications for coordinating the interview!