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Komatsu: Spotlight on Fabrics

Dazed chats to J.Lindeberg's Pierangelo d’Agostin about his shoot with the brand's textile manufacturers in the town of Komatsu

For J.Lindeberg, artists, art directors, photographers and stylists contributed to a special edition book, which was gifted to various editors ad buyers. The first feature, spearheaded by art director Pierangelo d’Agostin, is an ode to the hardworking Japanese factory employees in the town of Komatsu. The workers manufacturing J.Lindeberg’s pioneering textiles were finally presented with the clothes the fabric is used to produced for a shoot around the beautiful natural landscape of the district, which is preserved with super-ecologically friendly manufacturing techniques.

Dazed Digital: What was the most important part in the narrative of the Komatsu story?
Pierangelo d’Agostin
: I would like to start with a few words written by Nanako Yamamori, who travelled with me: ”This is a journey to go back to a tradition, follow our intuition, wait in anticipation of a new possibility and explore how the past may lead us to the future. It is a new way of unleashing our creativity and seeing our dream in real life." For me, this trip is about sharing my experience with the "neo-artisans". I have spent my time in Japan for almost twenty years to design items and develop fabrics together with the experts and the technicians. I have learnt a lot personally and professionally from the Japanese people and their culture. This is a way to express my personal appreciation to them. It is my journey to trace the origin and understand how far we have come.

DD: Why was it important to show the workers in the factory the clothes that are produced from the fabrics they manufacture?
Pierangelo d’Agostin:
With the clothing in front of us, we exchange our opinions and ideas to improve the performance and the functionality of the items step by step. I was the first European designer to visit all over the factories; I got involved in the developing process and saw how an artefact of design and manufacturing could be created. This has been a work in progress, and always is for all of us.

DD: Is it important that the people who buy the clothes know this story too?
Pierangelo d’Agostin: It took years of our combined experiences, repeated tests, refined research and the professional artisan spirit to create a product. It is important for us to communicate this story through the item. It is very exciting to see what's behind the scene of utility items in high performance fabrics for people who buy the clothes. The item becomes our communication tool between the manufacturer, the public and myself.

DD: What items did the workers receive?
Pierangelo d’Agostin: When they tried the items I brought, they were so proud. The items fit them so well as if they have just taken out from their own closet. At the end of the photo shoot, they liked it so much that they didn't want to take them off. It was such an emotional experience for me to see their excitement.

DD: What’s the significance for you of the juxtaposition between a cutting edge factory and such a beautiful natural surroundings?
Pierangelo d’Agostin: Water is an essential resource for the modern factory and for the traditional life in Komatsu. It is used to dye fabrics as well as to grow the rice. The people's health and the growth of the industry is enriched by the Sea of Japan, the streams of the Hakusan mountains and the irrigated rice field.

DD: Is it important that, when pushing forward with new technologies, innovation must not come at a price for the surrounding environment?
Wataru: Many workers in Komatsu come from the surrounding area. So people in Komatsu dedicate their time and energy to research and develop the most advanced technological fabrics, as well as put the same efforts into taking care of their environment.

DD: What kind of cutting edge fabrics does this factory produce?
Pierangelo d’Agostin: A conventional textile becomes something special in their capable hands. So many kind of materiasl arrive in Komatsu, which is the final passage before completing technological functional fabrics. The people there perform alchemy and the transformation and the evolution of fabrics evokes constant surprise and delight.