Product Introspection: Handiworks FW19

19.10.01

Dissertations

HAND-STAMP

visvim WMV FALL AND WINTER 2019 introduces original stamp work, as seen on the season's cover image; the letters of "PEERLESS" impressed on hand-woven red striped fabric.

The stamps have been created with the help of specialized craftsmen in Kyoto, utilizing rubber to update designs based on vintage stamping tools belonging to designer Hiroki Nakamura's personal archive collection.

Perhaps often thought of as common stationery which most people have used, one can't be blamed for having difficulty imagining stamping as an artisanal approach. However, upon considering the difficulty of imprinting a clean, complete stamp design on flat paper with consistency, you can appreciate the skill and challenges of this process on various textures and fabrics.

visvim products undergo stamping during the final stages of the production process, often just prior to the application of componentry to complete a garment. Given the precious quality of all our custom-made fabrics, the stamping requires a high-level of concentration as any mistake would be considered irreparable beyond use for any products.

It should also be highlighted, that the number of stamp imprints on a product are not simply one word at a single position; a tote stamp marked "THIS IS THE LIFE" includes thirteen individual letter stamps in thirteen specific locations; a shirt stamped with the PEERLESS detail; seventeen imprints on front and back gets stamped in a total of thirty-four places across the garment. Depending on the product, dozens to hundreds of stamp impressions are meticulously processed, requiring focused attention and careful hands.

Understanding this process, we invite you to compare the nuances of each product's stamp print and admire its unique characteristics. While maintaining the quality of standard that defines a visvim product, each piece naturally differs in expression of the handwork applied each time by the craftsman.

left: 0119203003053 CANVAS RECORD BAG (T.I.T.L.), right: 0119205011004 HEMI SHIRT L/S PEERLESS

BADGE SILVERWORK

There is an old apartment in the back alleys near Kameido, Tokyo that stands out from its neighboring houses; considered to be one of the last traces of an area that flourished as an entertainment district following the war.
"There are more visitors for the historical sites than customers with interest in my main business!" says Mr. Hiroaki Kojima with a laugh, an artisan metal worker and engraver, whose workshop lives on within the walls of a 70-year-old apartment building. Given the nature of his work and manual processes, similar to the "special" history associated to the building, he only accepts exceptionally special orders when producing his silver accessories.

"This badge requires numerous processes, and even when it is done efficiently, I'm limited to making about just 10 per day."
Mr. Kojima details his step-by-step process for FW19's 0119203003010 N BADGE 80MM SILVER:]

1. Cutting / polishing

When catering to special and often smaller production orders, in order to accommodate the request of making each piece truly unique Mr. Kojima believes there is simply no other way than cutting each piece manually, in his own words "The use of press molds and post-distortion is too obvious."

By using various sized saw files to cut each badge, the ruggedness gives the product the essence of handiwork.

2. "N" sculpture

An acrylic guide original was made based on the letter "N" hand-drawn by Hiroki Nakamura. Installed on the workshop table, this guide works as a template for Mr. Kojima to trace along each groove "N" shape while a sculpture drill replicates "N" on a silver plate.

While digitally controlled machines common today, create exact copies of the grooves of a guide, the design often ends up uniform and lacking any unique expression from each piece produced. By using an ancient manual engraving machine you have freedom over each groove, similar to that feeling of the original hand-drawing.

3. "N" convex processing

After applying heat with a burner to soften the silver plate, it is then placed within a brass press to accentuate the "N" convexly.

4. Dot processing / curved surface processing / sulfur coloring

A predetermined number of dots are struck onto the badge surface using bladed tools and then struck along a wooden block to form a curved surface.

The backing silver pin parts are applied by soldering, then immersed in hot water containing sulfur to create a black-shaded oxidation on the badge's surface.

5. Scratch processing / finishing

As opposed to sandblasting or finishing with machines, the manual process continues with each silver badge as they are placed in a pumice-filled box and shaken to scratch the entire surface, while being repeatedly monitored.

A gold brush adds larger, uneven scratches. Lastly, a file is carefully used to polish finish the badge.

left: 0119203003010 N BADGE 80MM SILVER, right: 0119203003011 N BADGE 50MM SILVER

It took approximately 3 hours to make just one badge, albeit the work being done while conversing. "If I were to be seen by a craftsman who produces in a more efficient manner or utilizes convenient machinery I think they would laugh at my process, but this is the only way I know how to do it, taking my time to make each and every one."

The time and energy spent to make each silver badge displays a uniqueness in appearance with a warmth only found in his work. We encourage you to feel the difference by holding one of these in your hand when visiting our stores.

HAND-KNIT

The concept of "hand-knitted" may seem familiar to most, perhaps like "stamping" mentioned above, so it may be difficult to distinguish what makes this process special. Knitting as a hobby is quite common and many wear sweaters and vests knitted by their mother when they were younger. In conversation Mrs. Akie Yanai explains the differences of a seasoned knitter considered to be a craftsman while recollecting on her experience spanning over 48 years.

"Technically, the hardest part is to finish a product in accordance to specific dimensions." Mrs. Yanai explains that is a challenge for even the most skilled craftsman. In the case of knitted fabrics, the stitch tension can change any given day depending on the feeling, similar to the feeling of the knitter himself. To reach the ideal softness and dimensions, very minute and accurate adjustments are made during each step to the thickness of the yarn and size of the knitting bars; even seasoned knitters will often find that it is very difficult to knit several items of clothing in the same way, because of the many adjustments required to complete just one.

"The important thing is having an exact understanding of the beauty within the work, but also knowing what makes a bad product, bad" says Mrs. Yanai. "Almost all knitters work alone at home, so if you don't have a firm understanding of this, you simply won't be able to do it."

Understanding the finer details as the creator with an ideal finished product in mind, the knitter grows closer to a process of envisioning a soft and attractive sweater that can be enjoyed over many years of wear.

0119205012002 GALWAY CREW HAND-KNIT (N.D.)

"The main thing I would like people to understand, is that this process will take time." regardless of advancements in technology, reiterates Mrs. Yanai. When discussing this season's 0119205012002 GALWAY CREW HAND-KNIT (N.D.), particularly about the technology and production time involved, we learn it would take the hobbyist knitter two to three months to knit this product.

Simply studying the knitting pattern adds a considerable amount of time, hence not making it feasible as a job nor sellable in larger quantities. Despite utilizing the talents of a seasoned craftsman with advanced skills and dedicated time, it takes two weeks to complete knitting on one piece.

0119205012003 TOLEDO V-NECK VEST HAND-KNIT (N.D.)

"Therefore, while hand-knitted products will continue to be expensive, these well-made items can be worn for a lifetime. It would make me so happy if more people begin to understand that value, and thoroughly enjoy wearing these knits for a long time.
Recently, there has been an increased interest towards handicrafts as a result of a renewed appreciation of folk art, which is encouraging. However, within the current climate of consumption, hand made products of this caliber have not enjoyed a level of comprehension allowing the creation of sustainable business opportunities which celebrate this craft.

Just like the traditions of hand-knit pieces made at home for loved ones, is there a way to pass on the artistic expressions of hand-knit pieces created by skilled craftsmen, who's' aims are to make a difference for future generations?
It is with great hope we strive to make advancements in this challenge for preservation. For many seasons now, visvim continues to explore these truly exceptional and unique one of a kind hand-knit products.

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