Manonik - The making of 'D' for dreamers




The unbeaten path.

The unexplored possibilities.

The only way to the land unseen.

Those who take the unbeaten path.

With reason.

The kings and queens

of the burning youth within.

The luminaries.




We are born to be.



Uncon: Yoshi, let us begin by exploring your childhood, what kind of a youngster were you?

Yoshi: Until Jr. high, I was an "exemplary" kid, playing the piano and koto, going to regionals and nationals in swimming, practicing Japanese tea ceremony. etc. As soon as I began high school, I became rebellious beyond control. I was harshly rebelling against my parents, institutions, formality, traditions among many things, but I really didn't know why.


Uncon: Could you recall a unique moment that perhaps served as a trigger for you to explore garment design?

Yoshi: It was when I met an old lady in Sasayama in Japan who was growing her own cotton to spin, then to weave, to make small things like tote bags. I was always interested in garment design, or design in general, but it was then that I realised I could make my own cloths to make garments.


Uncon: Your work is deep, meaningful and so rich in craftsmanship. How reflective are you in your craft? 

Yoshi: Thank you. I'm reflective in a sense that I constantly think about what I can do that other people can't, not just in terms of the techniques I've come to learn and develop, but also on a conceptual level. I constantly ask myself: what is it that I can offer through garments because of my unique set of experiences, since my childhood, through education and inter-personal, cultural experiences?


Uncon: How did you define your particular style or approach to fashion? 

Yoshi: I never intentionally "defined" it, per se. I'm just following my subjective judgements, the gut feeling. Through trials and errors, I’ve discovered – and still am discovering – the expressions and techniques I feel “at home” with, which I use consistently in every garment one way or another. So I guess the aggregation of these findings is manifesting as style?


Manonik - The making of 'D' for dreamers


Uncon: How would you like for your designs to be appropriated, when they journey onto your clients?

Yoshi: I'd love my clients to feel empowered that through the garment they've invested in, they helped those involved in the process to keep living their dreams. If my designs could somehow shift their perspective on garments, from them being purely objects, to an amalgamation of relationships and passions, I'd be very happy.


Uncon: What do you believe is the most important characteristic of a garment?

Yoshi: I have two: function and intention.


Uncon: What are the main influences of your design process, and what guided you to this way of design? 

Yoshi: Locality, materials, and methods. They influence one another. If I limit myself to using, let's say, local dyestuff, I need to figure out the most “appropriate” methods to use them, and also to explore what sort of expressions I can achieve by using these materials and methods. 

The lack of thoughtful locally-made clothes was the starting point of Manonik. In retrospect, I think critical thinking I learned through my education and conceptual design through my previous career in advertising paved the way to this way of design: finding an art-design solution to a self-identified problem that is unique to our time. 


Uncon: Originality and authenticity are important factors in your design process, How do you stay at forefront of contemporary fashion?

Yoshi: I just don’t! I grew up experiencing modernist/post-modernist cultural artifacts, along with traditional ones. The “expression” may be contemporary for that reason, but the methods, because the fundamental nature of my inquiries, tend to be traditional or nostalgic of the past. I just focus on identifying what other people are not doing, then try to cultivate that little niche. 


Manonik - The making of 'D' for dreamers

"Shape-woven pattern pieces before being hand sewn to become the Rick Pants."


Uncon: We spoke of inspirations before. I am intrigued to ask you more about the artists that you feel drawn to emotionally? 

Yoshi: The Winged Victory for the Sullen. Lubomyr Melnyk. Infinite Body. Rival Consoles. Georgia O’Keeffe. Basquiat. Cy Twombly. Jackson Pollock. Michael Ambron. Robert Szot. Those are the artists that came to my mind right away. I’m drawn to artists who can abstract an idea, then recompose it through their own unique voice. 


Uncon: What makes Manonik, truly Manonik? 

Yoshi: Honesty.


Uncon: If you could wear and repeat one of your designs eternally, which one would you pick?

Yoshi: I’m not trying to be cynical or mean, but I don’t want to wear and repeat any of my designs. I think that will defeat the purpose of the brand.


Uncon: What advice would you give young designers starting out?

Yoshi: Be honest with yourself. Understand what’s important to you. Think about what’s important for our society and how art and design can co-create. Then the result will inevitably follow.


Uncon: What does Manonik as a brand hope to contribute to the future of emerging fashion? 

Yoshi: I’d love for the brand to help transform our social and economic systems, not just Fashion as we know it. I want the brand to help create a place where thoughtful production and consumption are the basis of our economic life. I also want the brand to induce people to question the obvious (like how clothes are made) and to examine if and how we can improve it. If all this leads to “critical design” in the future of emerging fashion, I’d be very grateful.


Manonik - The making of 'D' for dreamers

"The finished article, the Variation Two of the Three Variation Series coat"


Shop the current collection here: M A N O N I K