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Monday, May 29, 2006

So what's next?

Well, the Design Festa is over till December, and so are the Design Festa highlights on my blog. I have been checking for my video interview on the Design Festa website, but I think it was left on the cutting room floor.

I Iearned many things at the Design Festa. Like what to do, and what not to do. I am considering participating in December's Design Festa. Next time I will be more prepared for speaking to media, retailers and the general public.

So what am I going to do now? Well I have opened up an online store at Etsy.com. Click here for the link or go to 'my ONLINE STORE link located near the top of my blog. 5trillion is another DE who recently opened a store at ETSY, addition to her stand-alone online store. I like Etsy because it is simple to set up. I’m surprised I’m getting more people browsing than I did on ebay. As for ebay, I will continue to use it for the time being. It may be useful for driving traffic to my blog and redirecting customers to my Esty store. I have been surfing the net to see if I can use other websites to drive traffic to my store and blog. I have a few ideas and will post them up in the coming weeks.

I am also in the process of contacting the retailer who was interested in my bags. Once again, fingers crosses it will go ahead. I also have a women's accessory in the planning and design phase. (Thanks to Meli for the inspiration and reminding me of my past ideas).
Maybe I am being too transparent on my blog? Hummm, I don't think so...I am keeping some secrets. I think it is important to share knowledge and experience with other DE'S and to let my past and future customers know what I am doing. Design and fashion has always captivated people. Books are written about it and movies are made. DE blogs like myself are showing the less glamorous, but just as exciting side of fashion. Which is starting out.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Design Festa fun

Punk Chic at the Design Festa

Punk chic rocks !!

DE's at the Design Festa Part II

This is Toshinari and Asuka. Like many of the designers at the Design Festa they are just starting out and are producing printed t-shirts. The don't have a store, but plan to have an online store next month sometime. So they will be added to my DE online store links. GAMBATTE!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

DE's at the Design Festa

Kirsti had a booth with a few other friends at the Design Festa. Currently she is working in Japan on the JET program and has begun her own label 'Woo'. She is in the construction stage of her website and plans continue design when she returns to Canada in July. I told Kirsty of my DE blog/online store linking project. She was keen to join. I will be linking Kirsti's webpage once she has completed it. GOOD LUCK!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Design Festa Madness!

Well the Design Festa is over, and boy did I learn a lot. It was really worth going, just for the education alone!

I'm sure you want to know about how my bags went. They were photographed, and filmed by customers, and called 'kawai,' meaning cute in Japanese but I didn't sell a single bag. I am not disappointed because I didn't have expectations on them selling. And not because I think they are crap, because they are not, but because most of the people there were only looking, plus have a limited amount of money to spend. I have been to the Design Festa twice as a customer, so I have an idea of what goes on there.

Items that did sell were small little knick knack things and postcards because they are cheap. I spoke to a few other store holders and they hadn't sold anything either.

A few exciting things happened. I was filmed and interviewed by the Design Festa organisers. I should be on their website sometime next week (I'll post the link up during the week). In addition to that NHK International interviewed me too. ( Lets just hope I don't end up on the editing floor) That will be broadcasted on Monday internationally, but not within Japan. I wish I could see it! I didn't expect to be interviewed and wasn't prepared for it so the first one didn't go too good. I was very nevous!

I also had a retailer who is interested in selling my bags in Evisu, Tokyo (near Shibuya). We spoke for about 15 minutes with my friend Tomomi helping me out with translation (THANKS AGAIN TOMOMI!!). He gave me heaps of tips and advice. He told me that I was selling my bags too cheaply, that should increase the price to 5000 Yen or more ($55 - 60 AUD) and liked the fact that they were not made commercially. There was a time when I thought he was going to buy all my bags, but that didn't happen. In additon to that he asked if I could put the handles a little more closer together and make them in different colours (the ones he liked). We exchanged business cards and he told me he would contact me. So fingers crossed he will!

I spoke to two other DE's too. I will talk about them and post more photos of the Design Festa during the week. I need to go on finish off my online store.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Nearly time

It is the day before the Design Festa and I am almost prepared for it. I just have to prepare a few signs and pack a few more things into the case I am taking with me. I have to work late tonight, so I'll finish everything off after work. I am expecting a late night.

Here are the bags I will be selling. It's not all of them, as the other are similar to what is in the photo.

The Design Festa is an event where- up and coming designers can show and sell their products to the general public. Designers product things ranging from clothes, postcards, furniture, art, dance and music.

I'll fill you in on how it went.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

TOTE designs display for the Design Festa

I've had a while to think about how I'm going to display my bags at the Design Festa. I had a few options.

Option 1.

Hire an A-2 or A-3 wooden panel at 29, 400 yen ($320 AUD) for the A-2 and 21, 000 yen ( $230 AUD) for the A-3. I would then hang the bags on the panels using nails or hooks.

I ditched this option because it was simply too expensive for my budget. Also, I have only made 20 bags, which means if I sell all my bags it will only cover the cost of hiring the panels and perhaps the cost of the booth too.

Option 2.

Hire a table and lay my bags out flat for display. Table cost 2, 520 yen ($30 AUD)

Yes, I ditched this one too. I was concerned I would not be able to display all my bags at the same time due the size of the table. I only have a small booth so it rules out having two tables. In addition, I was thinking if the bags are lying flat then it may reduce visibility. It won't be at eye level.

My other concern is customer-looking time (I'm sure there is a better word for it). There will be approx 6, 000 exhibitors and 51,000 people walking through. Now I've been to the Design Festa twice, so I know it's a lot to get through, plus the displays begin to look the same after while. When I went, I spent about 10 seconds looking at each exhibitor, longer for ones I was interested in (There just isn’t anymore time if you want to look at each one). So if everyone does that (which they may not), then it does not give me much customer contact time (does contact time sound better?). So I have come up with a more creative idea....


A clothes rack! (price: 2, 500 yen $25 AUD) Okay, now before the comments just read and visualize. The bags will be either hanging from hangers or using fishing wire, suspended giving them a ‘floating’ look. By doing this I am hoping to arouse interest or curiosity from the people passing by. I will also be displaying my label TOTE designs on top of the rack, using small display thingy’s…(sorry, I don’t know what they are called…just look at the photo.) I have not finalized my choice of fishing wire or coat hangers because I completely forgot to buy them today when I was at Joyful Honda so I haven’t been able to test it out.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I think it will be an interesting marketing experiment.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hang Tags!

I have been thinking for ages...How can I make a hang tag myself without it looking cheap and having the 'yes, I made it at home look'.

At first I thought about using A4 card and prining them out myself...'naaa can't be done' I thought....'my printer is crap!' Then I thought about designing a hangtag, saving it as a JPEG and taking it to 7-eleven to get it instantly printed out as a photo. This would then be cut, holepunched and tied onto each bag using twine....

I finally settled on using my business cards as they are simple. One side has the name TOTE designs and the other side has my email and blog details. So I thought it would be perfect. I've attached some photos of a bag I will be selling at the Design Festa with my hang tag. If anyone wants to leave constructive feedback, then go for it!

What is sashiko?

No it's not the name of a Geisha that lived long ago! It's a type of stitching as previously mentioned one of my posts.

Here is a little more information about it. The following information came from
Art to Wear.

Early 18th Century Japanese wives of farmers, fishermen and lumberjacks made warm garments for the men by stitching two pieces of heavy fabric together using fine running stitches throughout the entire garment. At first, the stitching was used for reinforcing and repairing damaged fabrics but later became more decorative. The cotton fabric was dyed very dark blue with the root of a native plant. We know this color as indigo.By the end of the century, this particular style of stitchery was known as "SASHIKO". Around the late 19th Century, sashiko appeared in cities. The style was adopted for warmth but the stitching designs became more elaborate. Patterns were adopted from kimono prints, fabric weaves and nature such as, bamboo, ocean waves, flowers, etc.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Coutorture Launch Party!

If your in New York around May 18, be sure to drop in at at Lucky Jack’s on 129 Orchard St (between Rivington and Delancy) around 8pm May 18th for the Coutorture launch party! RSVP to Julief[at] at coutorture.net to attend!

I won't be there. As NY is alittle too far from Japan but I'll be there in spirit!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Coming out

I thought I'd come 'out' and post a photo of myself....I finally got one that I think is decent.

Dyeing dilemma

I like calico as a fabric, so thought about using it for my bags. I had some ideas about dyeing the calico to give it a gradual fading effect, from dark to light and adding an adapted version of sashiko stitching as well. (Sashiko is a style of Japanese stitching)

I had the dye, I had the fabric, I sewed and I dyed! I washed it and let it out to dry…and these are the results (see photos)…disappointingly my calico project failed. Because of the fabric that I used, as well as using a different type of interfacing, the bags looked worn... aged and with bubbling due to the interfacing. (Which I was kind of expecting)

I was happy with the dyeing effect, although it wasn’t from a natural dye, and the sashiko stitching as well. I am going to take those two bags to the Design Festa to see if they move. Japanese people have different fashion sense, so someone just may purchase it or give me some feedback about it at least.
I will use the sashiko stitching in the future…truth be known I already have used it on two other bags I recently finished. I may try and use some different fabric to dye as well. This time using interfacing that I usually use. But I need to have a think about what fabric I want to use…. maybe a white felt would be nice…?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Shimokitazawa....the other Harajuku!

On Friday, my friend Tomomi took me to Shimokitazawa. Known as an artists town in Tokyo. It was completly different from Harajuku, where there are goth shops galore. Instead, there were homeware stores, the odd designer selling their clothes on the street and stores selling vintage clothing from America at not so secondhand vintage prices. For a vintage shirt, expect to pay between 1500-2500Yen. I didn't buy anything as I am used to paying $2.00 - 4.00 AUD for these kinds of clothes.

I did find a store tucked away by the name of GAFU. This tiny clothes store sells shirts, t-shirts and pants (Which were very comfortable when I tried them on), all from handwoven cotten (excpet for the t-shirts.) The clothes are designed in Japan, produced in Thailand, then shipped back to Japan for sale.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bitters Magazine

Like I have previously said on my blog. Many of the magazines in Japan cater to a certain look, which I have always found odd, as those types of magazines don’t exist in my home county Australia.
I have found a new magazine and plucked up the courage to take a few photos of it whilst in the bookstore. It’s not a magazine that I’d normally buy so a photo is justified…. I think. Bitters the magazine for Bitters! Who are they? I don’t know! I concluded it was a magazine about guys that were bitter with their relationship breakups with a bit of fashion mixed in. Anyway. You be the judge!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Well Fashioned: Eco Style in the UK

Thanks to Trudyjuice from fiftyRX3's Flickr groups, I have found an exhibiton from the crafts council that is going on in the UK at the moment. (see this post's title) Be sure to check out the context page for Dr Kate Fletcher's essay on ecological fashion and information about synthetic fabrics.

Creating my bags

Somtimes it can take me many hours to create a bag. As was the case with these ones. I made these bags from wool shirts that I bought in Tokyo. I cut the shirts up into squares, then sewed them up to make these cool bags. These will be for sale at the design festa for around 4-5000 Yen. I can't sell them any cheaper for all the labor that has gone into them and some others that I have made.

Vintage shirt $4.00 AUD

Vintage shirt $4.00 AUD
Originally uploaded by
This is just one of pieces of clothing that I have posted on fifyrx3's flickr account. I bought this shirt in Melbourne a few years back and I really love it. I love op shops...(or should I be saying vintage clothes shops) because I can create a style that says 'me'. Retail shops are okay too but I prefer to shop at places that sell clothes from independant designers.

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