Reimagining Recycling

We are pleased to introduce fashion designer Kumiko Tani who is exhibiting three key dresses from her ‘Re-cycle Style’ Collection at the Museum of Brands this summer. We met with Kumiko to find out more about her work.

Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-30
How did you come to the idea of making dresses out of chocolate wrappers?
I am interested in up-cycle material. I have made dresses out of newspapers, PET bottles, shopping bags and used fabrics, coffee packaging. Chocolate wrappers are also one of the many materials I use.

Normally my dressmaking starts with collecting material myself or asking people to collect it for me. The material of the dresses I’m showing at the Museum of Brands was sponsored by Lindt Hello chocolate for the Berlin Alternative fashion week. I had more pressure than ever before to not waste this material. I tried to make dresses that would gain value through their production and how they looked. They are very delicate and intricate creations. The dresses were originally shown at the catwalk show at Berlin Alternative fashion week titled “Lindt Hello Chocolate Collection”.

Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-28 Who or what is your inspiration for the work?
Many people make amazing work using recycled material, and sometimes they also recycle the material itself. Those people are all an inspiration to me. I’m also interested in themes surrounding ethical fashion and sustainability, which I make use of in my own creative way. Of course, I like art and fashion, nature and industry. Basically, all my daily life inspires me.

Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-69
Tell us about a bit about how the dresses were made. How long did each dress take to make? Was there some particularly tricky sections or materials you worked with?
I like to use non-fabric material to make dresses, even though they are not very wearable. It’s always very tricky to make them. Before I make the dress, I make many samples to experiment and test the material. For example, I try sewing with the sewing machine, I fold the materials and I also sew by hand. Sometimes I stick the material to paper or fabrics which is the most difficult process.  For the dresses on show at the Museum of Brands I have worked with chocolate packaging, which is the most delicate material. It splits easily and I have had to change the design in the process of making them. The material does not take well to the sewing machine so I have had to hand-sew most of it. It took quite some time to make the detailing of the dresses.
Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-64
Do you think the dresses can change ideas around recycling and make it more fun and creative?
I sometimes visit recycling factories to get a better understanding about waste and recycling. For instance at the Eco park, in North London, almost all of their waste is remade into new products or restored and sold on.
If each person can gain a better understanding about waste and over-production, such as fast fashion, free newspaper, over-layering wrapping paper in product packaging, then I hope the amount of waste can reduce.
My approach to recycling is just one of way of doing it. If people who see my work become interested in recycling, and perhaps start to reduce waste, that is very nice!!

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