Skip to main content

Your Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Click here to continue shopping.
Free ground shipping is available on purchases over $200

[WELL-MADE] JUNICHI NAKANE OF #KUMANOKOIDO

JUNICHI NAKANE
OF
#KUMANOKOIDO

What is #kumanokoido and how did it come about?

 

I traveled to Mali, West Africa and visited the Dogon Community. When I was talking to the locals I found out they had a low supply of water. They told me that it costs around 15 thousand (US) dollars to build a well. I wanted to stay connected with the people that welcomed me, and thought, maybe I can do something positive to support them. I didn’t want to just give a donation or start a charity, I wanted to find a creative way to work with the locals, and this is how #kumanokoido started.



 

"I kinda freestyle and trust my eyes and just go with the flow. A lot of Wabi Sabi happens to bring out the magic."

 

 

How did you end up making handcrafted bears?

 

So I was always into Ralph Lauren, Polo Bears, and that was one of my biggest inspirations for making these bears.

 

What is the overall process in developing and producing each bear?

 

First, I select the materials which could be garments, a roll of fabric, a tarp or anything that catches my eyes.  

Next I try to utilize the material in the best way I can while coming up with an interesting way to emphasize the pattern and details in order to give unique character to the individual bear.

This process is the most fun and challenging.

I kinda freestyle and trust my eyes and just go with the flow. A lot of Wabi Sabi happens to bring out the magic.

Once I get the layouts ready I go into the pain in the ass stages of cutting, sewing, stuffing, and hand sewing.

But it's a great feeling when I have a finished bear in my hands and all the work paid off.

I get excited to think about where those bears are going and who their new family will be.  

 

How do you choose the materials?

 

So I started with Wax print, which is a Batik fabric that is used daily in West Africa. I’m super into camouflage so I use that a lot too. Nowadays I use a lot of different materials. I repurpose garments that catch my eye, and I use a lot of vintage fabrics. I love using fabrics from different cultures, especially kimonos since I am Japanese. My mother is a seamstress and she collects vintage kimonos and I often steal some from her. Now I explore other materials when I can, such as Gore-Tex and Hi-Vis. When I do collaborations with brands I often get to use their fabrics as well. It’s always a fun challenge.

 

A lot of the fabrics are often repurposed?

 

Yes, that’s fun because it’s not just about the fabric and it gives unique character to the Bears, and makes them one of a kind. I recently made a custom bear for a client. He sent me a family member’s U.S. Navy Sailor’s Uniform and I used it to make a bear and it came out really nice. I love making bears with fabrics that have deep meaning/story to someone, I feel like I am giving the fabrics/garments new life.

 

When/how did the relationship between #kumanokoido and Nepenthes NY begin?

 

Nepenthes has been supporting me since the early stages of #kumanokoido. I'm really grateful for their support and friendship. At first Miki-san, a Nepenthes NY OG staff member, introduced me to Daiki-san (Engineered Garments Creative Director) and her teammates. That was back in 2013 or 2014? Since then I became good friends with the team at Nepenthes NY and the bears have had residency at their store. I sometimes get to use EG fabric or garments as well so if you are lucky you might be able to pick up a super rare one-of-a-kind EG bear at their NY store.

 

How did this project with Engineered Garments come about?

 

So Daiki-San reached out to me and told me that he would like to incorporate my handcrafted bears into the Spring/Summer 22 collection. The SS22 collection has an animal theme and so I thought my work would fit in.

 

#kumanokoido is known for handcrafted bears but you’ve added more animals to the collection, What’s the reason for that?

 

Daiki-san asked me to make some new animals. I wasn’t really planning to expand the collection but I think this was a good opportunity to try something new. I chose to add the Elephant and Giraffe since they are animals that depicted on the fabrics in the SS22 collection.

 

How were the fabrics chosen for this collection?

 

he fabrics were chosen by Daiki-san. Our first choice was to use the fabric with the animal patterns. But the size of the patterns were too big and so it didn’t really show in the finished pieces.

 

 

 

Which animal was the most difficult to make?

 

The bear (Laughing).

 

The bear is still the most difficult?

 

I think so, it requires hand sewing, as with the other animals I can make it all with the sewing machine.

 

What are the future plans for #kumanokoido?

 

I just want to do something interesting, challenging and whatever I can have fun with.


Interview - Teddy Tsubasa Pichado

Photo & Video - Thitipol Samuttha