YAB-YUM was started in 1994 and basically was a reaction to my travelling in Asia. Tokyo is where we are based and in Tokyo there are many beautiful second hand or antique shops where Victorian clothing is sold as a compliment to contemporary clothing.
When I came to Japan, I was moved by the way in which buyers of these second hand stores would select and display clothing. It just seemed natural and Victorian clothing is in proportion to Japanese physical scale! In the west sizes of Victorian clothing may seem too small and come across as “costumy” but here the scale seems to fit and therefor can be worn with contemporay clothing as something exotic and feesible for fashion.
YAB-YUM is a fashion or should I say “anti fashion” brand and each season we might be inspired by many different periods. Personally I have always been inspired by seventy’s fashion where Victorian lines and details were seen as bohemian. I have always been inspired by designers such as Jean Muir, Biba, even Laura Ashley. Therefor Victorian clothing has always been the central aspect of our brand. We have always had shirts and dresses with rows of buttons and basically the rows of buttons are the main image of YAB-YUM.
Fashion for us is too one dimensional these days. In that sense I mean that if let’s say Balenciaga or Comme des Garçons is fashionable, every young designer is influenced by that kind of “modernity”……. Therefor in that sense we believe that contemporary fashion lacks individualism and for us it is a huge problem.. a mentality based on following trends rather than expressing “fashion”. Since the Victorian proportions seem so right for us our whole identity is based on playing with contrasting with other brands on the fashion show circuit. This seems to give an edge to what we do even though at first glance our show pictures might come across as “out of sync”…..
I worked for Jean Muir after graduating from Saint Martins and the thing I was most inspired by was that Jean Muir in fact was “out of sync”…… Being out of sync at the moment is important and we have always fought against becoming too popular. Personally popularity in these times equals commerciality. When we started our brand Commerciality was always taboo. Times have changed and so people look differently at fashion. We believe that a strong image of integrity is what keeps our customers and fans coming to the store. Unfortunately looking at what we do in a fashion conext, our style may seem outmoded or strange. Ironically I believe strongly in being unfashionable and to standing out in a crowd rather than completely being of the moment!
Photographer: Yuriko Takagi