‘ Twisting and Turning Through The Valley Of Cartoon Dreams, The Puppet Turns And Cocks His Head In Amazement, Soft Veiled Whispers Sweet Like Cotton Candy,Munching On A Leaf Of Glazed Caramel, Drive Into The Cartoon Wasteland, Defined By Ghosts Of Cartoons Past, Long Forgotten By New Age Fanatics, Too Obsessed With Their Quest For Modern Living, Gone Are The 90’s Flipped Into The Skipper,Mass Produced Living Is The Order In This Town,But Wait, There Is Hope, There Is Love, Yumi’s Brand Is The One For Me,Fried Eggs Dancing On By,Soft Fabrics in Rhythmic Dance,Plucked From The Cartoon Wasteland, Fresh and New, Rebirthed, Re-Churched, Come Into The Yumi Kingdom’
I was always a dreamer; from a young age I would envision alternative universes whose cultural and social constructs were defined by a sense of not ‘belonging to reality’ or in other words a universe where us dreamers could coincide in perfect harmony. We would not be judged for our inability to restrict creativity nor would we perish in the mundane monotony of ‘real life’. Instead we would gallivant through our made-up worlds, wishing that we could stay inside our heads forever. Nothing much has changed since and whilst I might be an adult by age the kid in me believes that it is playtime all the time. Which is why Yumi’s youthful exuberance, penchant for exploring alternate universes and desire to remain grounded in a ‘fantasy world’ spoke volumes to me. In a world where ‘kitsch couture’ is a rarity, comes Yumi, a label inspired by the land of cartoonish dreams. From their obsession with ‘fried egg daisies’ to dresses inspired by seahorses and merman, the ability to imagine and conjure is a never ending pastime in the Yumi Kingdom. After eating 821 curries and counting, their zest for the ‘spice of life’ is un-tameable and this exuberant, puppy-like enthusiasm is an attitude that is applied to their ‘unique’ clothing label. Founded in 1995, the self-penned ‘summer of love’ was an era of technological disenchantment, with only 1% of the population even having access to the internet. But what relevance has basic technology have to the growth of Yumi’s debut label? Well, as the internet grew so did our imaginations. Our words were no longer confined to paper but for the first time we had a global reach too; as digital natives Yumi’s founders saw a gap in the market for digital printed dresses, applique jumpers and outlandish designs that were based on the emergence of a digital generation. After deciding on a theme of East meets West, the label incorporated their love of travel – hence the colour- and created a wacky, almost garish aesthetic that would still leave consumers spellbound 18 years later.
Shop The Look: Dress- Yumi / Straps- Boux Avenue / Clutch- Dorothy Perkins / Heels- Primark / Watch-Debenhams
A combined passion for travel, colour and cartoons allowed Yumi to create a cultural homage to ‘the East’ and the ‘West’ divide, formulating a new aesthetic that prevented the two diverse nations from being segregated. Instead traditional Indian fabrics were given a European twist while traditional knitwear was decked out with beautiful Nepalese designs, merging the two cultural aesthetics together. It was a beautiful marriage of fashion and culture and inspired by iconic art-meets fashion crossovers, Yumi launched its signature brand in Notting Hill, showcasing an array of exotic knitwear, metallic dresses and the odd meow-tastic purse, purring out for attention. After rebranding its label in 2013, Yumi modernized the brand to retain its signature unique, one of a kind prints and transformed into a collection that ticked off trends we were loving each year. While 2015 was the year which was defined by ‘palm’ and botanical prints, 2016 saw an emergence in haute couture dresses that were tailored in metallic, chiffon and silk fabrics, attuned to 2016’s re-love affair with luxe, expensive looking fabrics. While colourful knitwear no longer seems to be the focus of Yumi’s label, traditional favourites like the ‘pussybow blouse’ and the Kaftan dresses still remain two of the most popular pieces in Yumi’s collection.
Shop The Look: Dress – Yumi / Heels- Missguided / Bag- Wolf Whistle / Watch- Elie Beaumont
Because of Yumi’s ties to Eastern communities such as India and China, co-founder Uttam Nepal sought to ethically source Yumi’s materials since it was founded in 1995. Nepal understood the huge benefits, changes and improvements that investment from European brands could bring to local markets and created an ethical initiative that meant he and Clare ( the other co-founder) would visit the factories to maintain that factory owners were abiding by all working law practices. This includes but is not limited to workers getting minimum wage adherence, payment for overtime and were all at a legal working age. After reports of children laboring in factories to earn a living to re-compensate their families lifestyles it is refreshing to note that Yumi supports human rights, is against child labor and ensures that workers are awarded a minimum wage, at the very least. Having wrote about the problematic discourse surrounding ‘factory based textile production’ that often compromises workers rights in ‘Should We Boycott Primark’ and ‘ New Chic’ it pleased me that Yumi takes great care to preserve their brand using only ethically sourced materials. Of course no brand is 100 % ethical but Yumi’s attempts to navigate their workers rights and champion their rights as ‘people’ is a heartwarming ethos to say the least.With a passion for advocating and supporting human rights Yumi was a brand like no other; ethical, unique and a champion of ‘alternative’ prints, textiles and trends, Yumi took me into their deep trove of magical clothing, where bags danced in perfect harmony and birds clucked in tune to an unheard tune. Thanks to Yumi, my faith in high street labels has been restored again.
Shop The Look: Shirt Dress- Yumi / Sunglasses- Quay Australia / Bag- Lollipop / Heels- Primark
What Are Your Thoughts On Brands That Go Against The Grain?