Tamaki Niime creates truly unique garments through transforming traditional "Banshu Ori" textile techniques into the tamaki niime® original production method.
Tamaki Niime is a designer as well as a maker of garments. She shared us her story and passion to create garments when she showed us her weaving atelier in NIshiwaki, Japan.
Tamaki Niime studied fashion at university and then in fashion school. Her passion is not just for designing, but for the total creation of beautiful and comfortable garments.
She told us, "It struck me that this is what I was looking for," when she encountered Banshu-Ori (Banshu-weaving) textiles at a Tokyo textile trade show. Banshu-Ori is a traditional cotton fabric weaving production method practiced in Nishiawki for over 200 years. The wide range of variations in patterns and colors is created from the signature “Dyed-yarn weaving” technique.
She moved to Nishiwaki and launched her brand “tamaki niime”. She learned the Banshu-Ori technique using a vintage Banshu-Ori loom. Her oldest vintage looms are made in 1965. There is no instruction on how to use or maintain these looms. They require lots of human skills which are acquired over many years. She said that new weaving machines do not produce the same benefits as vintage looms. She said that she is still learning valuable lessons from technical errors and from fixing problems.
While she loves Banshu-Ori’s technique “Dyed-yarn weaving”, she was not in love with the texture. Traditional Banshu-Ori is mainly used for men’s shirts, smooth to the touch. Initially, she was also making a shirt. She was working with a man from one of Bashu-Ori textile companies, aiming to develop a softer quality of textile but she was told that there are limitations. She sought someone who could show her a better way, but she could not find anyone who could develop the softness she wanted. She then tried again and again by herself until she has finally developed own method of creating feathery light fabric with a soft touch quality, still using the same vintage loom and dyed-yarn weaving technique. It is too soft to use for a shirt, so her shawl collection was born. Each shawl is woven as slowly and loosely as possible in her weaving atelier. She and her team monitor every step of the weaving process with as much care as hand weavers would use. tamaki niime’s world is also about color. She creates beautiful and unique world of color. She does not design for any particular ethnic, age or gender group. When she studied at fashion school, she was told that you must have a specific target market and that you must design for them. More specific is better. However, Tamaki Niime said that her desire is to create garments which are for everyone. It does not matter which ethnic group, age or gender you are. Because she creates many different unique color combinations, anyone can find the color they like.
She produces different color combinations everyday – a different color combination every single day. So her new collection is released every day.
It is significantly unique that tamaki niime’s “only one” items are woven using a unique combination of thread colors. This means that no two items have identical colors.
Although non “only one” items have a few identical copies, tamaki niime creates up to four or five (depending on size) shawls using the same combination of thread colors. She simply does not want to mass produce. Since she has own weaving atelier, she could technically create more copies in order to maximize productivity. However, it is not her desire to create the same color combinations. Furthermore, it is her policy to sell non “only one” items through different stores in different locations so that you won’t see the same item in your city.
While her collections are not made to order, you will feel a special attachment to the garments you choose – because no one else is wearing the same item!
Everyone is different and has unique tastes. tamaki niime wants to bring dynamic color variation to create delight in your daily life.
Tamaki Niime approaches creating high quality, beautiful and unique garments in a wholistic way. For example , she cares about the material she uses in her collections. She is curious about cotton.
When we visited their atelier in November, she showed us her cotton field where she started growing cotton for the fist time. She wanted to know how to grow cotton organically. During her research into growing organic cotton, she met people growing green tea, called bio-tea, in Miyazaki, Japan. She traveled to Miyazaki and learned the method of growing bio-tea, growing tea in a natural way. She instantly thought it would work for growing organic cotton, following natural biorhythms and optimizing natural energy, sunlight and water, using a field she borrowed from a local resident. This field is in front of both her home and her weaving atelier. She is researching the importance of good quality materials not only for the benefit of her collections but also for our health and for the environment.
While it is currently still small scale, her original cotton crop is used for one of her collections called “tocoton.” She tries to understand the whole process of making her garments. She said that she can’t make them without knowing.She told us her vision. Her central concept is to create comfort. Clothes, Food, Living Space – those things that everyone needs. She wants to create more variations and to improve the quality of her garments. Her vision includes creating a space where people can have healthy and comfortable experiences in the future.We had an opportunity to spend some time with her and her great team at her weaving atelier. They work, eat healthy vegetarian lunches together every day (lunch is made at their studio!), and share Tamaki Niime’s spirit. We certainly feel comfort while we were there.
Creating comfortable and healthy things for people and for the earth is a central vision for her. We are continuously keeping an eye on her ideas and progress.
View the tamaki niime collection