The Keishin Hoshiko Interview (A Jinbei Online Shop Owner)
Welcome to our first post on the Hoshiko Clothing Blog!
We hope that this can be a space to get an insight into our brand, interests, and values. Our first post is an interview with Keishin Hoshiko (Founder of Hoshiko Clothing).
How did the brand start?
It has started in my little workspace at home. I graduated from a degree in Fashion design with the purpose of going into womenswear - but soon after graduating some important dots from my life connected and I made the transition into childrenswear - specifically Japanese clothing.
How did you get into clothing/fashion?
My mum said that from about 3 years old I was very eager to choose my own clothes and had an interest in clothing. A lot of my childhood memories and memories about books are related to clothing, but apart from that, I learned to sew from my mum at a young age. My mum studied Kimono making and I used to watch her sewing using a traditional Japanese hand stitch and cleverly tying neat knots. One of my first creations was a little Kimono for one of my teddies and sewing became a skill I felt confident in and clicked with - so pursuing a career in clothing was where I was consciously headed for a long time.
You were first designing clothes for women, what happened to them? Why the pivot to kids clothes? And will the womenswear be back?
Going into womenswear was almost default because there aren't many options for childrenswear degrees in the UK even though I had considered it. I really enjoy designing womenswear because I enjoy wearing clothes myself. I didn't however, always feel a complete click with the world of high-fashion. After my degree, I tried designing a few collections but for a small entrepreneur with little resources, building a whole collection became a big expense and unsustainable as much as I enjoyed it.
Around the time I became pregnant with my first child a few things clicked. I remembered how much I loved childrenswear and uncovered children's pattern books I had bought from Japan a long time ago but never had much reason to use. I remembered how much I loved Japanese traditional clothing from my own life. Finally, I realized that children's clothing was a lot easier to work with (I didn't need as much space and a lot less material). On top of that, I had my own little person that I could use as a fit model ;)
Why traditional Japanese products? What does the clothing mean to you?
I grew up in London being half Japanese and Japanese products weren't easy to access or were very expensive. Japanese products became very precious to me, as did memories from visiting Japan. Some of my strongest memories from being in Japan as a child are from staying in a Ryokan which is a Japanese style hotel/spa. You are given traditional Japanese clothing, a Yukata (a light cotton Kimono), Haori (an overcoat to wear over the Yukata) and Geta (Japanese style slippers) which you can wear around the hotel to take a bath in the spring water, eat your beautifully prepared meals and even go out. Those are nostalgic memories filled with family, relaxation and delicious food. I have my own Yukata and Jinbei which I wear at home which is so comfortable and reminds me of those feelings.
Now I have a daughter and I love seeing her comfortably pottering around in the Jinbei. It makes me so happy when people admire her outfit and ask about it which happens quite a lot when she’s in a Jinbei.
Many of the products are quite pricey, why is that?
The Jinbei's we make are made lovingly by hand in small batches. We use high quality and natural fabrics which means that we offer products based on quality. I believe that the world is moving in a direction where fashion is slower and we invest in products which really inspire us and bring us joy day to day.
What does your husband think of the store & products?
He is from the Japanese countryside and has never really had an interest in fashion or clothing :D. However, he loves his country and the quality of its products and is proud of our products also. It is interesting for us as a couple to act as a bridge together between Japan and the UK. When we are in Japan, he contributes a lot by being the communicator with suppliers and contacts.
Why do you think those outside Japan would be interested in or would benefit from Japanese clothing/products?
Japan can be a bit of a bubble, which is difficult to access. If you ask most people to name a type of Japanese clothing they will probably only know about the Kimono, however, there is a lot of other comfortable, practical and beautiful Japanese clothing which I know people would love.
What are some positive aspects of Japanese culture that has shaped you?
It is hard to say exactly. I think the way in which I am aware of and respect others might come from my Japanese cultural influence, but English culture can be quite similar in that way... I highly value quality, the beauty of simplicity and modesty not just in design but in my life as well.
Which is your favourite product?
I love the Starry Night Jinbei (Black and White Kurumegasuri Jinbei with the dots). It’s the one where you can best see the way the dying and weaving technique is done and is just such a beautiful and unique fabric (https://hoshiko.co.uk/products/childrens-cotton-jinbei-in-starry-night).
Any plans for the future for the store? Any new products or ranges?
I am intending to start introducing other types of Japanese clothing as well as bring in a few things for adults. People often ask me to do adult sizes for them!