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The Style Line x Brand Assembly: Meet Yoshimi Radstrom of KABAN+

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Photos by Karen Hernandez for The Style Line – in partnership with Brand Assembly

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

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Merging vintage clothing with contemporary design KABAN+ is establishing itself as a leading brand in the sustainable fashion space. Founder and designer Yoshimi Radstrom is leading the charge in this personalized and expressive approach to design as each piece is meant to give empowerment to the wearer to style it in whatever fashion they see fit. This responsible and somewhat bohemian ethos is having a moment in fashion, as brands like KABAN+ are championing clothing of all kinds by revitalizing each piece with a breath of fresh air. To learn more we sat down with Yoshimi in partnership with BRAND ASSEMBLY) to learn more about how KABAN+ came to be, her thoughts on building a brand in Los Angeles and what role creativity plays in her endeavors. Discover more below and also visit The Assemblist for a deeper look into Yoshimi’s process and studio.

HEAD OVER TO THE ASSEMBLIST TO SEE PART TWO OF THIS FEATURE AND MORE FEATURED DESIGNERS AND TASTEMAKERS.

I moved to the U.S. from Japan in my 20’s and

have been working in the fashion industry as a textile, graphic and fashion designer ever since. I chose the U.S. because I admired American culture and was inspired by its music, cinema and fashion. I value the relationships and friendships I have built here over the years, and am always looking forward to the new people I will meet. My friends and family make me who I am, now and going forward. Having a great support network is very important to me.

Tell us more about the sustainable aspect of KABAN+ – what does sustainability mean to you and at this point in your life how would you define it in relation to KABAN+?

As many now know, the culture of throwaway fashion harms both the environment and garment industry workers. KABAN+ embodies the idea of sustainability in fashion by using vintage, deadstock, and discarded source materials and giving them new life. All of our pieces are reimagined and reconstructed from existing clothing and materials. I like to maintain the integrity of the original material while adding something special and unexpected.

Walk us through the reconstruction process of KABAN+ pieces. Where do you usually find the vintage pieces, how would you describe your design process and what is the most rewarding aspect of seeing each final reconstructed piece?

I hunt thrift stores and flea markets for my source materials. LA is the perfect location for this, as flea markets are held every weekend somewhere new. My favorite is the Pasadena Rose Bowl Antique Market. I also hunt for vintage in Kyoto, Japan about once a year, and come home with a big haul. Sometimes I know what I am looking for at flea markets, but other times I encounter interesting vintage pieces that give me new ideas. I originally started KABAN+ as a way to design clothes for myself, so I love each and every one of my final pieces. It makes me happy to share my designs because I put a lot of thought, time, and love into every KABAN+ piece. Knowing that others appreciate the designs and the unique stories behind them is very rewarding.

How would you advise the next generation of designers, makers and creatives to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love?

Future designers, makers, and creatives should find something that they are passionate about and incorporate it into their brand. Stay true to what you love and surround yourself with supportive people that lift you up.

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

I love explaining the story behind Japanese boro textiles, which I often use in my reconstructed denim pieces. Literally translated as “rags” or “scraps,” boro is antique fabric that has been repaired over and over again. Japanese peasants could not afford new clothing, so whenever something wore down, they repaired it. A single piece of clothing would be repaired over one’s lifetime and beyond. We often throw things away at the first sign of damage or wear, but it doesn’t have to be this way. People often ask me, “Can I rework my old clothing by myself?” The answer is yes! I love to help people get inspired to make their own creations. I’ve actually just started doing small workshops, called “The art of reimagining your clothes,” to encourage people to do their own reworking projects.

How do you think creativity contributes to some of the world’s bigger conversations and what role is KABAN+ playing in this?

I think creativity contributes to making the world better place in many ways. Creativity is the base for science, art and life. It is the driving force behind innovation and discovery.

We can use creativity to help reduce the use of environmental resources, create fair working conditions for garment workers, and cut down on waste in the fashion industry. KABAN+ is a small example of how you can repair or reuse something to increase its value – extend the life of what you already have instead of discarding it.

“I like to maintain the integrity of the original material while adding something special and unexpected.”