indieberlin: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Umasan: …Earlier at the age of 16 we start creating our own clothes…so it starts to become a dream to study fashion design and work as a designer. We have different professional backgrounds in fashion, me as a photographer and Anja as a designer, and we came together through our passion for ethical fashion and created Umasan in 2010.
While Anja Umann went on to study fashion design to become a designer in the high end avant-garde world of fashion, working successfully for Strenesse, Wunderkind and most impressively Yoshi Yamamoto in Paris and Tokyo. Me – Sandra Umann – decided to follow my passion for visual art and media and became a well-known photographer (published in Vogue, Gala, Bunte and many more) working as an artistic/creative director for many forward-thinking global projects.
indieberlin: What triggered your passion for fashion?
Our motivation was to create something new which goes far beyond the production of clothing and establishment of a fashion brand
Umasan: Our demand and at the same time our motivation was to create something new which goes far beyond the production of clothing and the establishment of a fashion brand. As innovation in the fashion industry also means to correct luxury mistakes, to re-define collective values and to increase individual values.
indieberlin: What are your sources for inspiration generally, and/or for your new collection specifically?
Umasan: We’re inspired by the day-to-day life of down-to-earth, working people, from various cultures — by artists and travelers who are not simply into glamorous allure. We look at the human body and how it moves. With our collections we search for and strengthen the relationship of the self and the self’s inner world, and one’s dedication to it, in which one refuses any form of dogmatism.
UMASAN Collection shows that the natural asymmetry and irregularities followed the shape of the beauty of nature
Umasan is an aesthetic homage to an unpolished and functional design. The creations are sincere and natural, a subtle phenomenon. They melt together with the body and harmonize it into its infinite variety. While a generally applicable ideal is that a whole perfect symmetryl illustrates perfection, the UMASAN collection shows that the natural asymmetry and irregularities follow the shape of the beauty of nature. Our goal is to develop a collection which has always been part of the person who wears it. Clothes which seem somehow familiar, help you to be yourself.
indieberlin: How would you describe your unique style?
Umasan: Umasan represents individual fashion linked with a perfected design language in the style of Japanese cutting art. It focuses on timeless beautiful looks, to adhere to an individual statement. Umasan is a sensual experience, combining flattering silhouettes and precise lines into harmonic balance. Fashion with the highest standards of innovation and sustainability. Umasan’s collections pay tribute to the individuality of its wearer and and are perched on harmonious silhouettes and high performance materials, which flatter the body’s natural shape. A maximal wearing comfort is provided by the functionality and floating of Japanese inspired cuts.
indieberlin: How would you describe your new collection?
Umasan: Inspiration of the new umasan ss 17 collection: Wabi-sabi, the Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated and trimmed away. Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered – and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of quiet, undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered. Symbol of the collection: The Japanese zen symbol “enso” represents the “circle of enlightenment,” the “infinity circle,” “circle of togetherness,” the oneness of life, the beginning and end of all things, and the connectedness of existence.
indieberlin: Which would you say is the best piece in your current collection?
Umasan: A black jacket.
indieberlin: Do you work nationally or internationally? And if internationally, what difficulties do you find exist for doing that?
Umasan: We work internationally. Since the USA is a potential market for us, because of their role as opinion leader and Avantgardists. especially in the health style and vegan sector. But it’s a different culure so we need to select the styles that fit into this customer profile.
indieberlin: What advice would you give for fashion lovers?
Umasan: Be individual and authentic. Do not follow any trend, just your own.
indieberlin: What projects do you have planned for the future?
Umasan: We don’t want to be a just a niche label. We want to communicate our message globally and inspire others to follow in our footsteps when it comes to sustainability.
indieberlin: Do you have any upcoming shows, or is there anything you’d like to let people know about?
Umasan: We are thinking about having a show in NYC this summer.
indieberlin: How can people find you – online and in the real world?
Umasan: You’ll find a stocklist at our homepage and sure we have an online store and international shipping .
indieberlin: What is the difference between UMASAN and other lines ?
Umasan: The question of what is behind material decadence?! Energy is fabric and movement. In each fabric there is movement and all movement is energy. Each thread is energy. Each feeling is energy. All thoughts are energy. Life is energy. Once this energy can flow without friction it will be endless and without borders. Once we understand the concept of this energy flow we are able to allow each fabric to unfold freely in its universal and true natural state. The movement we call “life” should not be inhibited and must flow easily, without any restraints. If this is not possible any idea will become a stagnant idea without reality.
It is Umasan’s goal to free this pure, honest energy in every collection. It’s important for us that all of our quality materials are sourced from European mills and production facilities. We are very concerned, engaged and constantly supporting the most humanitarian and eco-conscious production facilities available. A switch from conventional to vegan and organic with certification for organic cotton and other organic yarn and innovative new protein fabric properties – soy, tencel and bamboo are innovative, extraordinarily organic and healthy materials derived from vegan fibre, that stimulates blood circulation, is a natural antibacterial agent, and allows the skin to breathe. Methods created to respect healthy, safe and environmentally positive production. We are noticing that the world is starting to be aware of the food they eat and we are certain that they will be noticing what their clothes are made of too.
Interview by Gloria de Grossi | Edited by Noel Maurice
Photos by Gregor Hohenberg
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.