HANAKO NARAHIRA

...knitting her way to the top

Unlike many fashion designers, from a young age I was never interested in drawing or design. Born in Japan, my teenage years involved fencing and not much more – I was far from conscious about what I or other people wore. However, following my arrival in London, I started to meet lots of exciting people, visited galleries and great shops everyday. This environment sparked my interest in the fashion world; it looked cool, glamorous, and exciting. I soon realised, however, that it was a lot of hard work. This did not weaken my motivation though, as I learned that being inspired is very important and there was plenty of inspiration around me!

It is very hard for me to describe my design style. At times it can be colourful or dark, loose or fitted and so on, but I believe there is always something very "me" in every piece. Knitwear is my biggest inspiration and is the one design medium where I feel I can express myself the most. When I started the Bachelor of Arts Fashion Design/Knitwear course at Central Saint Martins, I had only hand knitted one scarf as a young child. However, throughout my projects at school and as I learned more about knitting, I started to think that knitwear still held so many possibilities for me.

As a fashion designer, I like to create something very modern and new, but to do that, developing new fabrics is essential. Knitted fabrics consist of continuous yarn; we can play with its stretchiness and even create three-dimensional textures and patterns endlessly. Although I really appreciate traditional references and techniques and acknowledge that it is a useful way to design, using them as they are or with new interpretation, I am more interested in looking at new technology. This idea comes from the need to keep moving forward and if something very expressive meets with new technology, it could be something very special.

Nothing inspires me like…
The times when I walk on the streets with my mini-camera. When abroad, I get excited by taking pictures, but I also enjoy finding something special on the streets where I walk everyday.

I hope…
That my work will be seen by many more people.

Cultural influences…
Solid Japanese culture is with me all the time, garnished with a bit of London spice.

I got where I am...
By searching for what I really want to do all the time, and here I am. Now that I’m at the starting point, the search continues…

Fashion can sometimes...
Make people totally different. How they look, and how they feel.

Money makes…
Me think of reality.

Faith in…
Myself, people I like, and things I like.

If I could…
I would go travelling for a very long time.

I once thought…
About how many people I’ve met in my life so far?

Love is…
All I want in the end.

My dreams are…
Something extraordinary and something I cannot tell you.

My future is…
Unimaginable, I try not to think about it too much because for me it doesn’t make sense.

There's a new...
Collection I’ve been working on at the moment, exciting knitwear, coming soon.

I tried to live...
Wearing everything I knitted everyday, but it was difficult.

I like making...
Extremely long, plain knitted scarves, without even thinking.