Mao Usami Design Residency Blog Week 3

Posted On 20/12/2013 | 

“Last week I was mainly trying to work on my design brief. This week, most of my ideas are based on an actual pair of “briefs”.

I have always found t-shirts to be unisexy, but for me, a pair of briefs (any kind of jersey underpants) is the fundamental unisexy garment. It is made out of stretchy materials with a simple construction and a basic shape. When I took a pair of briefs apart, its structural elements inspired me to realize that there are so much more I could do, using a pair of briefs as a starting point. Eventually it might not be very recognizable, but features from a pair of briefs could be found in almost all garments, making them the most basic but unisexy clothing articles.

If you do not think of briefs only as underpants, there are actually multiple ways you can play around with them. At the moment, I am making similar attempts, creating basic shapes that allow the wearer to style and interpret in their own ways.

As a kid, you never needed instructions on how to play with toys, we all found out how with our own sense of creativity. I think of garments as toys, and I hope the garments I am currently designing could translate the same.

This week, I thought back about my post-graduation travels and on how they have influenced my designs. During my travels, I collected pennies from different countries. They were quite easy to collect and I was obsessed! Although they do not seem sexy on the surface but they are charming in a subtle way. Thus I found similarities between the pennies and my work: both are nonchalant yet elegant.

Through visiting numerous museums in my travels, I also noticed that the ideas of beauty and sexiness were in a way, universally biased. Regardless of what country or what type of museum it was, nude male figures were often glorified and viewed as works of beauty that showcased masculinity; while nude female figures tended to interpret either a tabooed image or a sexualized identity. In the streets, rules of gender also have double standards. For instance, half naked men are way more socially acceptable than women who do the same. Hopefully, my designs will be able to blur these gender lines.


Finally, this is my highlight of the week: even Freud has his mind wrapped around in briefs!”

I've also visited Shanghai label <Crane>'s studio, and the designer gave me this t-shirt with pom poms!