The Inoue Brothers.
Sustainability and exclusivity.
Touch a piece of clothing by fashion label The Inoue Brothers and you will find yourself hooked on the haptic sensation: their fabrics feel enticingly soft, warm and light to the touch. My own first-hand experience with these tactile delights took place during Men’s Fashion in Paris where the two brothers and designers presented their impressive Autumn/Winter 2013 collection to international press and buyers in a showroom at the city’s Bastille Design Center. When asked about their choice of material, their eyes immediately lit up. They have, after all, chosen to work with one of the world’s finest fabrics, vicuña wool, otherwise known as hair of the gods to Peru’s indigenous population.
A sustainable business model.
In their quest to unearth the best possible fibre, they eventually found a suitable manufactory in southern Peru. The cooperation with the local research institute Pacomarca as well as indigenous producers has enabled them to develop a sustainable business model, and to produce their collections – sold mainly in Japan and Europe – using the finest Supreme Royal Alpaca and vicuña wool. Simultaneously, the label’s standards, requirements and production volumes allow the local population to produce this high-quality material at a profit, boosting the traditional method’s financial viability and thus ensuring its continuance.
Interview with The Inoue Brothers.
To this end, the two brothers – raised by Japanese parents in Copenhagen – work together, albeit in separate locations: while Satoru continues to enjoy Copenhagen’s creative comforts and moonlights as a graphic designer, Kiyoshi lives in London where he also works as a hair stylist. The Paris show saw the release of their seventh knit collection, their most focused work to date, according to the siblings themselves. At the same time, an intriguing variety of knitting techniques also reflects the sheer diversity of the craft on display. After all, the Inoues’ mission and message goes far beyond the products themselves. It is all about the story behind their eclectic range; a key message they would like to convey to consumers and industry alike.
One recent afternoon in Paris, I had the chance to ask the two brothers about their creative approach, what it is like to work together as brothers and what the future might hold for their label.