Bella Saltiel meets Seiko Fujino, the dressmaker behind CRATE’s stylish clothing store, as part of our our Shop St James Street initiative
D4Discus is a small dress shop inside CRATE, owned by dressmaker Seiko Fujino.
The clothing, heavily inspired by 1960s vintage, is all flower-power prints, bright pinks and shades of brown. Seiko says: “I always liked vintage and antique stuff.”
Back when she was living in Tokyo in the early 90s, she would rummage for vintage in the streets around her design college in Shibuya. After arriving in London in 1995, Seiko worked at a watch company designing t-shirt logos, before setting up her fashion brand in 2003.
Originally selling from markets like Spitalfields and Portobello, she settled in Walthamstow after joining the E17 designers at Walthamstow Market.
She’s since developed a loyal customer base in the borough, making custom orders as well as her own designs for the shop. Working with her clients on bespoke pieces, she says, is thrilling. Walthamstow High Road boasts an abundance of dressmaking shops, where she can take customers to pick out their own fabrics.
Seiko says that even during lockdown, her customers in Walthamstow have “been supportive, asking me how my business is, placing orders. At the beginning of first lockdown last year, a lot bought face masks from me through Instagram, which I then delivered to them through their letterbox.
“It was fantastic because it really helped to keep me busy!” she exclaims. “I also had a few customers working for the NHS, so I tried to give some masks away and donated some to Whipps Cross Hospital.”
Because of this experience, Seiko adds, the “pandemic made me feel close to local people. It was amazing how we all helped each other.”
It’s easy to see why customers keep coming back. These are all “people who want something unique. There is no point in making something similar to the high street designs that are mass-produced.”
In opposition to fast fashion, Seiko’s clothing is all made by hand on her sewing machine. Ordering bespoke gives customers the opportunity to help design items representative of their individual taste. Not to mention, in a world of cardboard cut-out sizes, it’s refreshing to buy something tailored to your unique body shape.
Slow fashion like this burns a hole in a wasteful system that sees some 15% of fabric intended for clothing left on the cutting room floor. Three out of five quick-fix fashion items in landfill, according to stats from 2019’s Clean Clothes Campaign.
Although Seiko may not have begun her business in reaction to fast fashion, she is providing the antidote to a culture of consumerism, where mass production puts profit before people and the planet.
Seiko says she never expected to have her own shopfront, but now, with the foot traffic, she is sharing a passion for retro clothing and tailor-made clothing far and wide.
To see more of Seiko’s designs, visit the official website of D4Discus