Hakobu Brand Designer Miho Suenaga Browne on Japanese Design, Work and More

I discovered Suenaga Browne’s stylish handbags online and I knew I had to talk to her. This was a great opportunity. I’ve always admired the natural simplicity and philosophy of Japanese aesthetics. I find this particular designer’s fusion of traditional Japanese and Western cultures quite interesting.

Here is what she revealed about herself and her work:

Tell me more about the function of your products.

The name “Hakobu” comes from the Japanese word “hakobu” or “to carry.” I chose that name because I wanted to make products that people could easily carry with them whenever they left the house. I want people to look and feel stylish with products that are well-designed and easy to use during their daily routines or when they go somewhere special.

Hakobu designs bring together elements from Tokyo, Japan, where I grew up, as well as elements from the US. Combining these elements, I focus on creating unique designs that have a friendly, familiar feel to them. I create designs that are sophisticated and Japanese in their simplicity. And I think one of the true charms of Hakobu is that all of our products are handmade and unique. Each is made only once. That allows our customers the joy of having a one-of-a-kind item, something truly personal they can add to their look.

Describe your creative process.

My creative process for Hakobu involves several steps.

hakobuFirst, in order to design a sewing pattern for a product, I do research and gather lots of information. Hakobu designs involve adding American and European elements to Japanese elements, as well as adding contemporary elements to traditional elements. I therefore spend time researching Japanese and Western traditions and fashions, both online and on paper, to bring those four areas together.

For example, my Azuma bag is a contemporary approach to a way of carrying goods that was used in the Edo period in Japan. And my Hakobu bag is a contemporary approach to kinchaku drawstring bags that were used for personal items also during the Edo period; this I have made into a true handbag. Both meant designing original patterns. And I have altered both types of bags to make them contemporary and easier to use. I have added magnetic snaps, changed sizes and combined Japanese and Western fabrics.

Most Hakobu products are based on traditional Japanese items, while the fabric patterns combine both Japanese and Western elements.

When I select fabrics, I look for different characteristics. When selecting Japanese fabrics, I look for those that are reminiscent of traditional designs and those that convey a sense of the four seasons and Japanese culture. When selecting Western fabrics, I look for things that inspire me, things that remind me of American television shows I watched as a kid, movies, European art and places I have visited.

Bringing Japanese, Western, traditional and contemporary elements together, ideas tend to come to me when looking at fabrics. With the shapes decided, I go from there and create each Hakobu product. This is something that is intuitive and therefore hard to describe… but in the end, Hakobu products represent my personal experiences.

Have you ever danced in the rain?

I have not, though I have been dancing since I was a student! I used to do cheerleading, and I have also learned hula. 

The question reminds me of the film “Singing in the Rain.” Dancing so smoothly and singing “I am dancing and singing in the rain….” I really like that scene.

What is your perfect breakfast?

I love the breakfasts you get at Japanese hot spring ryokan (hotels). Rice, grilled fish, miso soup, seaweed, and Japanese omelets. This is a traditional breakfast in Japan that is so simple and so good.

But honestly, usually I do not have time, so my breakfast is often just coffee and toast.

What question do you hate to answer?

I tend to be rather straightforward, and rarely am I embarrassed or feel the need to hide anything, so no question really bothers me. I don’t like attacking, negative questions, though.

In general, Japanese people are said to be quiet and shy. But personally, I do not think that’s quite accurate. I think that Japanese people tend to say their opinions when appropriate, but also resist being self-assertive when it is not appropriate.

The film you can watch over and over again…

“Roman Holiday.” I feel really drawn to Audrey Hepburn’s character (Princess Ann), who is so beautiful, yet playful and unpretentious. This character embodies the kind of women I admire.

As this is an old romantic comedy, this movie does not have the sexual elements of contemporary movies. This, together with the beautiful streets of Rome, the fashions and expressions of characters, and how it is filmed makes for a beautiful movie. Watching it puts me in a really good mood. I will never get tired of it.

The best piece of career advice someone has given to you is…

That would be “You should open your own store.” My husband, who did something similar with his own artwork, encouraged me to start.

Starting the Hakobu brand was a big decision and required a lot of energy. I had plenty of questions early on: “what kinds of things do people like?;” “how can I explain my products simply so people understand?” etc. I had doubts, too: “Will people buy this?” When I opened Hakobu, it took time before the first product sold, and I felt quite a lot of frustration. But my husband encouraged me to look at it long-term — “make good products and people will come.” And my family and friends have always been there, supporting and cheering me on. I have made it this far because of them.

Having started this brand, it has connected me with websites like this one, with people on social media and has allowed me to see things and meet people I never knew before. I am really glad I decided to take that first step and start.

I want to thank Lena for this opportunity. Truly, thank you!

Currently, the designer resides in Tokyo and continues to develop her brand. If you’d like to learn more about Hakobu and its creations, visit www.hakobubrand.com 

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10 CLASSIC WARDROBE BASICS EVERY WOMAN MUST HAVE

In this post, I’d like to share things I learned while studying in Italy and working as a shopping assistant. Incorporating trendy pieces into the wardrobe and shopping at a fast fashion retail is fun. Yet, you must consider investing in quality pieces as well. I mean classic, timeless basics. These garments have  high-quality tailoring that compliment your body shape, as well as your personal style. Each basic must be practical and versatile for day and evening. Here are 10 items every woman must own. Splurge on these items, even if  you have a tight budget.

Trench coat. Invest in a great quality trench coat. I recommend Burberry with its distinctive tartan pattern lining. Company founder Thomas Burberry designed this item.Trench

Leather jacket. Splurge on a great leather jacket. Loewe, Spanish luxury fashion house based in Madrid, is world-famous for its leather craftsmanship. Its clients have clothes and accessories tailored to their own personal requirements. Also, you can find great quality leather jacket at good value at www.yoox.com

Leather Jacket

 

Striped shirt. Traditional striped cotton shirts (“La Mariniere” or Breton shirt) originated in Brittany, France. Sailors wore these uniforms throughout Northern France. The distinctive block pattern on shirt made them easier to spot in the waves. The traditional Breton shirt usually has a boat neckline. The uniforms inspired Coco Chanel and she introduced the design through her nautical collection in 1917. For more information about Chanel click here. For info on how to pull off a stripe look click here. STRIPES

Little black dress. Coco Chanel also designed a timeless classic piece that every woman must have. The little black dress is worn during the day and evening.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1981): Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy LBD

Capri or cropped pants. Numerous celebrities, including Audrey Hepburn, Jane Russell, Kim Novak, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, wore the capri. They were designed by the Sonja de Lennart. She named those pants after her favorite holiday destination ― an island on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy.

Capri

SABRINA (1954) Audrey Hepburn in capri designed by Sonja de Lennart

Pant Suit/Skirt Suit. Based on your body shape, you must have a pant suit or skirt suit. Avoid buying yours in fast-fashion retail strips. I can instantly recognize a cheap product from a high-quality tailored one. A great suit is timeless and worth of splurge. I personally recommend choosing from Hugo Boss, Emporio/Giorgio Armani, Balenciaga, Costume National or Calvin Klein.

Balenciaga SS 2013

Balenciaga SS 2013

T-Shirt. You must have at least one high-quality designer T-Shirt. This item will go through multiple washings but always look like new. A great T-shirt gives a youthful touch to any outfit and can be combined with other basics. Choose one that can be worn during the  day and evening.

T-SHIRT

Street Fashion: Givenchy

Pencil Skirt. The right pencil skirt flatters any body shape when combined with the right pieces. Choose one that has  a lining, which indicates quality, especially in suits and pencil skirts.

Pencil Skirt

A pair of jeans. No commentary needed. You must have a pair of great fitting jeans.

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White Shirt. If you purchase the right one, a classic button-down shirt looks amazing. It is necessary, however, to choose a high-quality fabric and a style that has a well-tailored design that compliments your body shape. It’s a versatile piece. Pair it with jeans and it’s polished and casual. Wear it with a pencil skirt and high heels for a chic office look. Accessories and jewelry will change the appearance of just one simple classic shirt. Click here for more details.

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The Perfect White Shirt

The classic white shirt has been in fashion for quite some time.

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Vogue writer Franca Sozzani indicates that in the 19th century it was a symbol of wealth. The wearer was making a statement that he or she didn’t have to worry about soiling his or her clothing.

In the last century, fashion icons Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn wore the white shirt with elegance, simplicity and grace. They popularized the item, as fashion always seems to follow cinema.

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In creating your wardrobe, it is essential to invest in this basic, which can be worn many different ways.

Of course, there are variations of the white shirt. It can be fitted, textured or stretched. It may have playful ruffles in the front or back. You may find a tunic that ties at the waist. The cuffs may be French. The material may be cotton, linen or a silk or elastane blend. Find the shirt that  flatter you the best and can be easily transformed from day-wear to evening wear.

White Shirt Girls


 
White Shirt Girls


 
Celebrity Street Style


 
Street Style Aesthetic » Karen Gillan


 

This is a guilt-free purchase. The white shirt will never go out of style and can be accessorized in numerous ways.

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Jewelry For Tops