⟨ Misc ⟩

Continuity and connection

minä perhonen/Minagawa Akira Tsuzuku

Text / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

日本服裝設計師皆川明成為品牌之初,已定了目標:Mina,亦即是後來的Mina Perhonen將至少擁有百年歷史。他眺望著一百年後來設計,想到如何讓品牌持續經營,不只是品牌得收支平衡,替他造刺繡的工匠、替編織布的人、替編布者造線的人、替造線者種植棉花的人,種植棉花者仰賴的大自然,當然還有為他顧店的人、來光顧的人,他/祂們都得過得安好,品牌才能延續。萬物的能量相聯互通,因此皆川明在營運品牌時特別小心翼翼,不受潮流左右,主張長年穿著,不作鼓勵消費的促銷活動,不為多謀利潤而跟工匠壓價,設立修補衣服的工場,當顧客的衣服穿舊穿破了,能夠為他們修補……他堅信,所有細部都健康,品牌也就健康。

Mina Perhonen由創辦至今,已踏入25個年頭,除了衣服及布藝外,還推出了家品、餐具等,皆川明亦將他的事業,從設計師擴展至企劃者,替酒店及展覽等擔當策劃。而不管在哪個領域裡,皆川明都秉承著他一貫的價值觀,展現他堅持的信念。

東京都現代美術館,現正舉行Mina Perhonen及皆川明的回顧展,題為Tsuzuku,即是延續的意思,展覽中展出了品牌的出品、設計原畫、錄像、印刷品、皆川明的筆記等,讓我們透過皆川明的眼睛,重新審視這個消費社會。

When the Japanese fashion designer Akira Minagawa first founded the brand minä, which was later rebranded as minä perhonen, he already set the target that this brand has to last more than a century. With this vision in mind, Minagawa designs with consciousness on sustainability. Balancing profit and loss is not the only criteria to measure success. Instead, he wants to make sure that every stakeholder involved in the production can benefit from the production itself, from the embroidery craftsmen to the fabric weavers, thread braiders, cotton farmers, and tracing all the way back to nature where the cotton is coming from. Everything is connected with shared energy, therefore, Minagawa takes extra care when it comes to running the brand. He tries not to be carried away by trends, and focus on something that is never out of fashion, as an effort to fight blind consumerism. Their ethical approach to craftsmanship means the brand would never use unfair pricing towards providers only for the sake of profit. A workshop was even set up to help their customers to repair their broken clothes when worn out. Minagawa believes that if all details are done properly, the brand itself will develop healthily as well.

It has been 25 years since the launch of the brand minä perhonen. Apart from clothing and fabric art, the brand also produces homewares and cutlery. In the meantime, Minagawa extends his designer’s role to lead design projects for hotels and exhibitions. No matter what fields he’s in, Minagawa always stays true to his values and applies his beliefs.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is currently hosting a retrospective of Minagawa and his brand minä perhonen under the theme “tsuzuku”, which means “continuing”. This exhibition explores Minagawa’s mind through the display of minä perhonen’s work, design sketches, video works, prints, and notes. All these are meant as an invitation for us to ponder on the meaning of consumption in our times and the relationship between design and society.