Husband-and-wife designers, Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto (aka Eley Kishimoto) opened their first archive store in June 2003 to coincide with the celebration of their ten years in business.
Eley and Kishimoto met in New York where they were staying for work experience as part of their degree course. Eley studied Weaving at Brighton (BA), and Wakako studied Print at Central St. Martins (BA/MA.) Their solid background in fashion enables them to adapt and work freely and comfortably within any textile context.
The idea of the store came to them when they wanted to introduce earlier work (from spring/summer 1999) to the fans of their current designs and also for a more practical reason: they had so much stock in their workshop and were in need of space!
Inside the store it is like a haven; from wallpaper featuring their Gold Flash prints, to cups and saucers, sofas, chairs and, of course, the clothes, the shoes and the rain boots (a pair of pink ones caught my eye!) Their most recent collection 'Dancing Girl' can be seen in the form of dresses and tops. Bags featuring the same print are exhibited on a chair also covered in Eley Kishimoto fabric. The older stocks do not come cheap; everything here is equally valuable, important and special as one another and the price tags prove it. However, from time to time a selection of goods may be offered at a discount. At the time of my visit, a large suitcase in the shop window held a collection of skirts and tops from their past 'Landscape' collection, all at 40 Pounds each.
What is unique about their prints and designs is that they do not have a distinct leaning towards either being very Japanese, or very British. That fine balance and blend of each other's characters brings out the vibrant and ever changing but very noticeable styles of their prints. Where do their inspiration come from? The spokesperson at the shop told me: "They are often asked that question... their inspiration comes from everyday life, what they pick up on, filter through themselves and interpret in their designs. They certainly do not go about their creations with business concepts foremost on their minds."
The store had initially been leased for just three months by Typical, the furniture designer unit that collaborates with Eley Kishimoto on all their furniture activities. But now that seems to change, as the popularity of the shop has been high. There are now possibilities of extending the lease period. For the future, the pair hopes to expand their ever-growing clothes designs as well as putting more focus on furniture (in collaboration also with Osaka based furniture designers Graf,) and also other lifestyle products.
Sky seems to be the limit for Eley Kishimoto, but if you want to catch up on their past designs, you'd better hurry up!
Eley Kishimoto Archive Store
Date: 6th July - end of September 2003 (possibly longer)
Address: 40 Snowfields, London, SE1, UK
Open: Thurs, Fri , Sat: 10:30 - 18:30
Text and Photos: Sari Uchida