Fashion designer and visual artist Hana Tajima knows diversity and inclusion well. Coming from a diverse background herself — born to a Japanese father and English mother — she was given the opportunity to see the world through a different lens even at a young age. This view evolved when she she found herself drawn to Islam and eventually converted to the religion while at university.
However, even though she fell in love with the simplicity and modesty of the religion, she felt that there are many ways to still improve modest fashion, especially when it comes to functionality and style.
She started off sharing her musings on her blog, Style Covered (which later changed to bear her name, Hana Tajima). Then, she established modest womenswear label MAYSAA after pursuing a professional background in fashion. MAYSAA’s success landed her on the spreads of ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She left the brand in 2012 and moved to New York to pursue other projects under her name.
Following this series of accomplishments, she has done a number of collaborations with UNIQLO, with the first being in 2015 (launched in Malaysia), and then again in 2016. The collections were well-received, so it came as no surprise when she worked with the brand again in 2019 and 2020. Much to (old and new) fans’ delight, UNIQLO x Hana Tajima Spring/Summer 2021 is also now available.
Below, a peek into her design process, her thoughts on her latest collaboration with UNIQLO, and what it’s like to celebrate one’s heritage through fashion.
How old were you when your affinity for fashion started? What is it about fashion that continues to fascinate and inspire you within and beyond your career?
“As soon as I could draw I started sketching clothes. My mother taught me to sew on an old hand-operated Singer machine, and after that, I started making clothes for my dolls. My sister and I had a ‘dressing-up’ box full of all kinds of found clothes. It was exciting to inhabit different worlds and characters.
It was a revelation when I started to make clothes for myself. I understood that you could create this wearable art. It could change who you were at that moment. If I could make the right clothes I could be anyone I wanted.
Now I design because the translation of an idea into something so tangible is so challenging. You have to be part artist, part engineer, and to get it right you need to erase yourself out of the design enough that the person wearing it can feel like they belong inside it. That process is endlessly fascinating and there’s always something new to learn and to explore.”