“The trend of the times is in a state of time leap and loop.” It was discovered by a philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who represents German idealism in the 19th century.
As we view a spiral staircase from the side, it rises from the bottom to the top, but viewed from right above it, it spirals forth from the centre. The spiral progress put forth by Hegel asserts that as things change and evolve, in the process they steer towards the origin.
Changing the viewpoint, looking back and returning to the origin may be a great hint for designing the future.
Yuya Kobayashi was deeply inspired by Hegel’s concept of spiral progress. In 2019, he named his production house RIFATTO, meaning “remake” in Italian. Using traditional boro and the sashiko method, coupled with dying, washing, shaving, sewing and other such crafts, he remakes and creates humbly in his tiny studio. In 10 years, and with only his mere hands and self-taught stitching skills, he has remade about 1000 pieces of clothes!
“The 1960s gave rise to counterculture in the United States. In the 1970s, people became hippies and began this movement. The civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the anti-war movement… and naturalism, anti-intellectualism, etc. This power that went against existing cultures and postures at the time and the idea of questioning all common knowledge gave me great enlightenment. As such, my favourites are the culture, music and art of hippies and military clothings. The Japanese Zen spirit had a huge influence on hippies at the time too. Wabi-sabi, a kind of Japanese aesthetic sense, and the kind of natural, free ideas of hippie culture, carried with Japanese pride, I want to express this aesthetics to the world through the items I remake.”
“I imagined a man who roams the world when I created this jacket. There are 18 countries hidden within, the country flags on the jacket were those used during the 1972 Sapporo Olympics. They were repaired with a sewing machine and given a rustic treatment with sashiko.”
“I think the stories behind any old clothes are never the same, even the same vintage clothes have different histories. It all depends on the people who wore them – it could have been worn at work, or worn on a first date, or bought with someone’s first salary. I want to create a sustainable fashion cycle through my remaking, to add new stories and connect them with the people to come. When I am on Instagram DM conversations, listening to clients’ requirements and sharing pictures and moods at the same time, what is most intriguing is when a client raises ideas that never crossed my mind. That is a moment that I take pleasure in.”
Last year, the studio quietly hoisted a flag in Nanjō City, Okinawa. It was expanded into a shop that occasionally holds events and produces short videos to promote the ideas of 4R + Remake (Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair + remake).
“I would look for vintage fabrics across Japan, especially tattered fabrics with more than 100 years of history, and I would use the crafts of sashiko and boro to alter them.”
“This pair of jeans was custom-made with bandanas and vintage Japanese fabrics. How splendid it is to use an item over a long period of time, it is great for the environment too! Although things have their lifespan, I believe that we can extend it through remaking. By presenting the aesthetics of boro, I transcend the limits of these jeans’ lifespan.”
“The amount of items I have remade is indeed too small for the improvement of the environmental problem worldwide, but I think to create an opportunity for even just one person to reflect on environmental sustainability is nonetheless a great thing.”