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    9 Questions with Adriana Balcells for MAS34

    9 Questions with Adriana Balcells for MAS34

    With a focus on comfort, beauty and incorporating a modern aesthetic into your shoe wardrobe, Adriana Balcells creates MAS34; a brand that wins over the hearts of celebrities and everyday women alike. We love her attention to detail, durability and wearability, along with the knowledge that a high-fashion design made with heart is just a click away.

    1- What led you to shoe design, as opposed to other types of design?

    I always decided first which shoes I would like to wear, and then I chose the clothes. I consider shoes the most important element of any look. MAS34 offers a service 24/7 for women who want basics with some trendy touches that enhance the femininity and beauty of their legs.

    They are shoes you will wear now and in seven years, finished by artisans of the highest quality. MAS34 always prioritizes favourable and aesthetic designs. Our woman follows fashion, but does not surrender to it. MAS34 is a symbol of quality, creativity and comfort.

    Before launching any model, we make a minimum of three prototypes that I personally wear for three days to check quality, durability and comfort. Once we have the definite sample, 25 women of different ages and tastes come together and give us their feedback regarding quality, comfort, and size. This allows us to properly advise our clients and give them personalized attention by recommending their perfect model and size for their needs.

     Mas34 winegrape stilettos

     

    2- What were one or two of your first steps into becoming a designer and creating MAS34?

    I studied Business Administration in ESADE and I also did a master’s in Fashion Management in Italy. During my stay in Milan I worked for Ralph Lauren. I learned a lot! After few years, I came back to Spain to create my own fashion brand. I was very excited. At first it was very hard to begin, but now I realize, thanks to the clients we have, that all my work was worth it. Now I have a team that helps me a lot and with whom I am very grateful.

     Mas34 red stilettos

     

    3- Where do you draw your inspiration from?

    I would love to say (as all designers) that I’m inspired by travel, exhibitions and museums, but the truth is that apart from designing I manage the entire brand along with a wonderful team, which entails a lot of time and dedication. So, my biggest sources of inspiration are the people on the street. There are many celebrities who have worn our shoes, but the women around me are buying for daily wear, those who need to change their shoes when leaving the office and twist their look completely for after work or an event.

     Mas34 beige stilettos

     4- What is the process like, to create a new collection or a new shoe.

    First, we think about the feedback of all the customers from the previous collection. Once we’ve determined our shapes, the design begins with the pattern. From there, the first prototype is made.

    When we have all the models, we see if there’s any lack or if we want to create one more design, and we develop it to make sure we have a complete collection covering all the needs of our clients. 

     Mas34 stilettos vison

     

    5- What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working on MAS34?

    Traveling without a doubt is my greatest passion. Different cultures, people, cities, landscapes fascinate me. In my opinion, traveling is what can enrich you as a person. On the other hand, I also like to play sports, it helps me a lot to disconnect and feel good with myself. Finally, be with my family, have dates with my partner, going out with some friends and drink some wine and continuous laughing… Basic things that help me realize that although MAS34 is my life, it’s not my whole life, and we deserve to disconnect and prioritize.

     Mas34 stilettos burgundy

    6- What do you want your customers to feel when they’re wearing one of your creations?

    I want women to feel safe, sexy and know that if they want, they can conquer the world.

    Mas34 stilettos jade

     

    7- If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs or creatives, what would it be?

    Be very sure, willing to give up much of your private life and be strong, trust yourself, listen and learn from your mistakes constantly. Creating MAS34 is the best decision I have ever made and today my life fascinates me since my team allows me to delegate a lot of things (they manage more than me many times), they give me incredible satisfactions and allow me to have more free time. However the first 2 years, I worked an average of 14 hours a day (many weekends included), I have "sunk" for a few minutes, but then, seeing the incredible team I have and the wonderful clients, I keep fighting.

    Mas34 blue stilettos

     

    8- If you had to do something else other than this, what would it be? 

    Nowadays I can’t imagine working in another field different than taking the helm of MAS34. One of my dreams would be to expand the range of products and end up creating a large universe of MAS34.

    Mas34 marron stilettos 

    9- What is one thing in your life you couldn’t live without?

    Without my MAS34 stilettos.

    I think there is nothing material to which I am very attached (except my mobile phone). What I need most in my life are my moments of disconnection with the people I love. That’s life!

    Discover our selection here !

    Mas34 stilettos

     

     

     

    9 Questions with The Founders of Metiseko

    9 Questions with The Founders of Metiseko

    Husband and wife team, Erwan and Florence, have brought together their mutual love of ecologically-sound business, textiles, fashion and Vietnam for a brand that brings to life the vitality and artistry of a beautiful Asian culture.

    Both from the south of France, meeting in Vietnam, it seems like fate had a plan for these two, sharing compatible interests, education and passions. Read on to find out why Metiseko is a brand close to our hearts, as well as theirs.

     1. Erwan and Florence, from your studies in Paris, what brought each of you to Vietnam? Where are each of you originally from?

    Florence:

    I’m originally from the south of France. After my textile design studies in Paris, I went to the USA where I started to work as a freelance textile designer. I had been very inspired by the hectic lifestyle of big cities such as New York. But after this experience, I was looking for a more spiritual and authentic destination. Through books and movies, I was attracted to Asia, where tradition and spiritual culture always fascinated me. I first planned to go to Japan but at the last minute I change my mind to go to Vietnam. I can say, this choice has changed my life forever. A trip that was first supposed to last 10 days became a decisive meeting with my designs and myself.

    Erwan:

    I am from the south of France from Aix en Provence. I studied at 3A Business and Development school in Lyon. It is a school where you learn to build development projects and work in emergency NGO projects in developing countries (3A stands for Asia, Africa, South America). In the final year of my studies all students were asked to create an ethical project, and I choose at that time to create Metiseko. With the business plan in hand, we arrived in Vietnam with Florence and were able to find one business investor. 

    I am half Vietnamese and half French, before and during my studies, I worked in Vietnam in different fair-trade projects all linked to textiles. During an internship in Ho Chi Minh city, I met Florence who is my wife and mother of our 2 children. We knew when we met that we could create great things together by complementing our savoir-faire. I had an idea to create an ethical brand made from well-thought-out products and high-end quality materials. When Florence came into my life, I found her work fascinating and of great talent, which is why we decided to create Metiseko together in our beloved Vietnam.

     

    Metiseko shop hoi an

     

    2.Florence, what drew you to the design of clothing and textiles for your career?

    When I studied Art in Paris, I was very interested in developing my own creativity in textiles. It enabled me to combine all the different media I could have learned about during my previous studies: screen printing, painting, drawing, photography, gravure…

    When I started to work as a freelance textile designer, I specialized in home decor textile design developing prints with big scale.

    For Metiseko, we wanted a global concept starting from the stories of prints and color. The product was supposed to come after to enhance the print and highlight a universe, a story.

    There was originally a good balance between home decor products and fashion.

    But then, the brand turned more into a fashion brand when we started to print on silk. When I step back, I see that some of the prints were very similar to what I used to design for homeware; it was and interesting match, to combine both aspects.

     metiseko aquatic leaf silk dress

     

     3. When did the two of you first conceive Metiseko, and how? 

    Florence:

    When we met in Saigon 8 years ago. It was a decisive meeting in both a personal and professional way. He had at the time the will to create an ethical textile brand and I was working as a textile designer. We decided to match our skills to create a brand that can have both creativity and ethics. 

    As he’s half Vietnamese and half French, we wanted to start from his own story. In French “Metis” refers to someone who is a mix between 2 cultures and “Eko” refers to ecology. We believe that being environmentally friendly and chic at the same time fits our values.

    We chose Hoi An in Central Vietnam as the place to work and live. Hoi An is one of the most well-preserved and authentic cultural sites of Vietnam. Everything about Hoi An made sense to us as the place to establish Metiseko’s first boutique and production center.

    metiseko cobalt inspiration

     

     4. Vietnam has such a rich, cultural history and so much to draw inspiration from, how do you choose what you’ll use in your work next?

    Florence:

    My own source of inspiration in Vietnam is naturally quite subjective. In France, I was always scared to be out of ideas—it’s hard to know where ideas come from. In Vietnam, I’m very surprised to see how rich everyday small details are. I don’t have to look for inspiration as ideas come to me naturally. For example, the way people carry everything on their motorbikes, paint their walls with harmonious colors, the elegance of old people, the way people wrap fruits and flowers. And of course, I’m truly sensitive to the luxuriant vegetation and this unique tropical light.

    In my work, I need to stay connected to the trends and to what happens in the fashion sector. I follow-up via the Internet and in the meantime I get my inspiration from my daily life and travels in Vietnam and Asia. It’s a mix between instinct and trend.

    metiseko traveller's palm inspiration

     

     5.What drew you to exclusively using silk and organic cotton for your textiles?

    Florence:

    We really wanted to start with strong and healthy values. The original concept was to use natural, organic and eco-friendly material for our designs with the willingness to produce the maximum locally. That’s why we chose the silk grown, woven, dyed and printed in Bao Lac in central Vietnam. 

    Concerning the organic cotton, there is no organic cotton in Vietnam. To find a certified GOTS producer, we needed to go to India. We import the cotton raw from South India and process the fabrics in Vietnam. Until now, we have chosen these 2 materials but we are still investigating on new fabrics that can provide a high-end surface of printing and still be sustainable.

     metiseko florence at work

     

    6. When you’re designing, is your process different for jewelry than clothing? How so?

    Florence:

    When I’m designing, I start from the very beginning, getting the inspiration from a color, a tale, a movie a travel or even a scent. I first try to create a universe, and then I start to draw and find new colors that can match with the story.

    Working like this enables me to have a global vision of a collection and design the product range at the end of the creative process. I would say that the jewelry design comes at the end, when we’ve finalized the fashion collection.

    It’s a nice part of our work, as the biggest part has been done and jewelry is supposed to add the last touch to the outfits to fulfill a look.

    metiseko cobalt mood board

     

    7. What is a typical day like for one, or both, of you working at Metiseko?

    Florence:

    Working in Metiseko as the founder and creative director is not always easy. Both are very different and I need to find a good balance to save time for designing.

    I would say that I’m sharing my time between the daily priorities of the company such as production issues, shop displays, administrative things and new ideas to develop. It’s a very different energy to have!

    Erwan:

    I never know what to answer to this question. I am now the general director of the brand but I am involved in every aspect of the company. I have multiple responsibilities and we do a bit of everything. I work very closely with the sales managers of Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh city, with my accounting, production and creative team managers. I am the person in charge of the Brand development, Finance, Marketing and Unsolved problems. I am the person who has eyes on every aspect of the company, which enables development while coordinating our different departments, outside suppliers, and contractors all while respecting deadlines.

    metiseko photoshoot

     

     8. What are you most proud of in terms of creating your brand?

    Florence:

    Having created a team as a family and watching them grow up in the same time as the development of the brand. Being surrounded by employees who believed from the beginning in our brand, even when we had nothing. In the hard times, I think about them and it gives strength to my work.

    Erwan:

    We have great recognition from our customers and the sales are good. I am proud of the fact that we’ve been growing organically since 2011 with one store to start and without the financial help of other institutions/investors until now (except for capital investment). 

    We have both worked very hard and are looking back to our evolution with great pride. But what we are most proud of is the ambiance in our company. People rarely quit (we have more than 60 people now), we implemented a trade union, a tontine system, good working conditions and fair salaries, social and medical security for our employees and their families. You would need to come in our staff parties. It’s crazy !

    metiseko photoshoot behind the scene

    9. What does personal style mean to you?

    Florence: it’s hard to answer as we are very conditioned by the society and the environment. For sure we have in common a lot of inspirations, trends as we are living quite similar things. I would say that starting from a collective memory, trying to create something different at the right time!

    metiseko coco takumi traveller's palm dress

    You can discover our selection here !

     

    How to Find Your Best Bathing Suit of All Time

    How to Find Your Best Bathing Suit of All Time

    Swimwear. For some women, it’s an afterthought, something purely for function. For others it’s a source of anxiety every time a new suit needs to be purchased. And still for more they go to the trouble of avoiding it completely, opting for beach-less and/or swim-less activities.

     agua clara pluma real one piece coco takumi

    We’re going to share a swimsuit fact: there’s one out there for everybody and every body. One that makes the wearer feel confident, and covered (or exposed) to her comfort level. Buying a new piece can be just as exciting as shopping for any other wardrobe staple. The key is looking for what suits you well—literally. Read on for tips to find your next all-time favorite.

     

    Forget About Body ‘Type:’ The same shapes (apple, pear, hourglass) are introduced repeatedly, serving only to put you in a box of potential frustration. There is no body that exactly matches any fruit shape, or otherwise inanimate object. Incorrectly, women think the problem could be with their figure when a suit type doesn’t match their alleged body type. But each body has its own set of lines, lengths, and shapes. It’s unique to you. And it’s beautiful. Always keep that in mind.

     touche swimwear colour block one piece coco takumi

    Decide What You Like: Before you go shopping, do some research. What styles do you navigate toward? What styles have worked for you in the past? Little shopping secret: what we feel we like is often what tends to flatter, whether we realize it or not.

    But more than that, what do you like about yourself, what are your favorite assets? Accentuating the positive naturally minimizes the negative.

     touche color block triangle bikini

    Accentuate: A lovely bust (regardless of size) is shown off with a separate top piece, whether that’s in a two-piece suit or a one-piece whose top is seamed from the rest of the body; or with a plunging neckline.

     A shapely figure looks stunningly impressive in a one-piece suit, where the curvature of your lines can be seen in full, without being broken up between a separate top and bottom half.

    Would you like to show off your waist? Try a retro two-piece with a high-waisted bottom.

    A sexy abdomen (whether firm or soft) benefits from hipster bottoms. 

    A beautiful back is shown off stunningly when bare, or emphasized with interesting, thin strapping.

    Let your favorite assets be your starting point. And don’t be deterred by any “rules” made up by someone else.

     agua clara swimwear piton amazonico coco takumi

    Fit Rules: It’s true that fitting rooms can be tough, different lighting schemes, mirrors and angles can make a vulnerable time feel even more so. Don’t be shy about purchasing your favorites online to try on at home. Make it an event, invite your best friend who makes you feel your best and most beautiful you. After, step poolside or beachside feeling confident, stylish and not-at-all shy about plunging into the waters of your choice.

     

     We are shipping worldwide and we offer returns. Visit our shop !

     

     

    9 QUESTIONS WITH AILANTO

    9 QUESTIONS WITH AILANTO

    Iñaki and Aitor Muñoz are two brothers who use fine art and nature to inspire women everywhere with their creative vision. Pairing fine arts and fashion design degrees, the duo began their Barcelona-based label, Ailanto, in 1995 and have since been awarded Best Spanish Designer by Glamour magazine and the Prix Marie Claire for Best National Designer. Their work has been exhibited in museums throughout the world and we couldn’t be more pleased to exhibit them here at Coco Takumi, for all the world to see and acquire!

    Inaki and Aitor Munoz founders or Ailanto

     

     1.) What draws you to print and texture in your design work?

    Iñaki and me (Aitor) studied fine arts in university. It’s our passion. So, every season, we create our signature exclusive prints inspired by different artists. These prints, together with figurative embroidery and texture juxtapositions, enrich our collections and make the brand very visual and recognizable worldwide.

    2.) What is one (or more) art movement that’s inspired your art?

    Nature and painting are our greatest sources of inspiration. Each year, we look at the work of an artist that celebrates these elements, which can be painters, architects, photographers…

    For example, last summer our inspiration(s) were the gardens painted by Claude Monet, and this winter season our inspiration comes from a series of photographs by Jimmy Nelson, picturing the Argentinian “gauchos;” nomad “cowboys” from Patagonia.

    Mood board and inspirations Ailanto

     

     3.) What drew you to fashion design as opposed to another artistic medium?

    Iñaki complemented his fine arts studies with a degree in fashion design. This naturally lead our path towards the fashion industry.

     

     4.) What is your criteria for agreeing to collaborate with another brand or business? Artistic freedom? Interest in the project? Etc.?

    First of all, our brand’s values have to be similar. We like to collaborate with brands from other industries, because this allows us to learn from other sectors and keep growing and expanding the universe of Ailanto.

    Ailanto caftans at cocotakumi.com

     5.) What feeling or experience would you like to give women with your designs?

    We want women to feel sensual and feminine when wearing Ailanto. Our women master the effortless chic style, they’re elegant and romantic.

     6.) What does personal style mean to you?

    For us, it means to follow your own rules and personal taste. Don’t let yourself get drowned by the latest trend if you don’t feel comfortable, be loyal to what makes you feel good. You can’t separate style from personal, it is always something unique for each of us.

    Ailanto jumpsuit

     7.) What gets you out of bed each morning?

    Aitor: I don’t need an alarm, I wake up every morning with the sunlight. The first thing I like to do is take care of my plants while having breakfast

    Iñaki: I have breakfast every day at my favorite place. That’s the only thing that gets me out of bed!

     8.) What inspires you outside of your work?

    Cinema, travelling, yoga… We find inspiration in many ways!

     9.) If there was another profession aside from clothing design that you think you might like to do, what would it be?

    Aitor: I would be a landscape designer

    Iñaki: I would definitely be a painter!

     

    Check our selection here !

    9 Questions with niin

    9 Questions with niin

    Jeanine Hsu began her design journey in 2001 when she graduated from Central Saint Martin’s with a degree in womenswear design. After working in Vienna in theater production followed by a host of top design brands like Vivienne Westwood, Diesel and Alice Temperly, she returned to her roots in Hong Kong to begin Niin; a thoughtful exploration of fashion, beauty and respect for the fragility of nature.

    Using collected materials and natural stones, Jeanine and her team create works of art inspired by the natural world. We love her stunning work and the ethos behind her creations, and are so excited to carry niin here at Coco Takumi!

     

    1.) Your work and collections are very heavily influenced by a sense of spirituality and love for nature, is this something you’ve come to as you’ve grown up, or always felt?

     Yes! I’ve always loved nature, and we were lucky to spend our summers in Austria immersed in it. From a young age, I would always find and collect things on walks in the forest or on the beach.

    NIIN JEANINE HSU YOGA

    I started yoga aged 20, which was less ‘usual’ at the time, and really enjoyed it, so this allowed me to keep a spiritual element in my life and more balance—even living in a busy city like London or Hong Kong.

     2.) What draws you to accessory design?

    It is a mixture of fashion and sculpture, which are two mediums of expression that I trained in, and love. It is a very personal way of wearing your own fashion but without so much waste, as it is more timeless than fashion, but more useable than art.

     NIIN JEANINE HSU WORKSHOP

    3.) Do you have a specific process for designing your pieces?

    Not really. Some might call it slightly haphazard, but it makes sense to me!It is a culmination of information and inspiration that tends to build up over time. We discuss it internally, as well as a team, and reflect upon how last season's collections were received.

     NIIN JEANINE HSU INSPIRATION

    It can start by looking over the different materials that may have been sourced/collected whilst also becoming inspired in a particular emotion or feeling. Considering my emotions is when the properties of healing crystals comes in, as we often find ourselves drawn towards particular stones at different times. The same happens in the design process for me. The colours of all of these elements also plays a part in how these designs come to life, as colours are said to impact our moods as well.

     

    4.) What about Hong Kong inspires you?

    The diversity, the food, the culture and mixing of old and new… the mountains and sea juxtaposed against the crazy bustling city.

     

    5.) Do you have favored materials to work with or create in, if so, what and why?

     

    I love using Abalone Shells (collected from HK restaurants) and wood (upcycled from furniture factories) and making them into designs worn on the body. What can be created from these waste materials is really special and offers a really grounding experience and one of unexpectedness. 

     NIIN AZTECA SHELL CUFF

    I thoroughly enjoy mixing these elements. The different healing properties and colours of crystals and stones helps to create a complete vision and feeling.

    6.) What re-energizes you outside of your work?

    Yoga and hiking in nature (as cliché as it is!)

     

    7.) What is the driving force that gets you out of bed in the morning?

    My adored 2 year-old son

     

    8.) What is a typical day like for you working on Niin?

    Each day is very different! Basically I’m juggling a million things like most business owners. I will usually go in to the shop to see the team and maximize efficiency, but also I try to factor in spending a few hours with my baby either in the morning or at bedtime. 

     NIIN JEANINE HSU EVENT

    If we are having an event, then the schedule is quite different and the team is all running on synchronized task timelines "trying to get the job done"!

     

    9.) What do you hope your customers receive from wearing and owning your pieces?

    I hope they can feel happy and confident, and that it can give them a sense of grounding energy. I hope to spread the message that nature is precious and that we need to respect it. That we can tread lightly on the earth, stylishly ;) 

    NIIN JEWELRY

     

    Check our selection here !