YKK London Showroom marked its fifth anniversary on December 2nd, 2020, as it celebrates its ongoing relationships with the local fashion community, designers, students, artists and accessory makers. A unique resource hub for emerging designers and brands based in the heart of Shoreditch, the concept behind the YKK London Showroom first came about when the YKK Group began receiving requests from students, graduates and emerging designers for different types of fastenings and trims.
One of the world’s leading manufacturers of fastening solutions , YKK sought a way to leverage its industrial background and expertise to benefit and educate new and upcoming players in the fashion and accessories industry. Part resource hub, exhibition site and workshop, the YKK London Showroom offers its customers a world-class experience. An expression of an architectural concept developed by architect and fashion designer, Kei Kagami, since its official opening five years ago, the YKK London Showroom has dramatically strengthened the group’s relationship with the fashion community in the area.
Over the last five years, YKK London Showroom has hosted 38 exhibitions, featuring a total of 87 emerging and established designers. Most of the designers who have been invited to show their work in the showroom were hand-selected by Kagami himself, the Showroom designer and YKK Europe Limited Ambassador. Many of them still work closely with YKK, creating lasting relationships. “For the last five years, I have worked on presenting young talents and creators for the YKK window display. I can’t believe it’s been five years already – it has gone by so quickly. I feel the opening was so recent,” says Kagami.
“In some way, I feel we needed the last five years to understand what we needed for the smooth day to day running of the showroom. Although I designed the initial space, I feel that I have carried on to work on this the last five years, maybe that’s why it does not feel like all this time has passed,” he adds. “Looking objectively I can see that the showroom works well, the workshops are popular with students, and the retail is working well – sales have increased over the last five years. I have also met many students through the showroom who all seemed to be very appreciative of the existence of the space. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the YKK showroom team.”
One of the first designers to work together with the YKK London Showroom was London-based fashion designer Martina Spetlova. Known for her hand-woven leather designs, as well as for functional purposes, she uses metal trimmings such as zippers and fastenings to accentuate and amplify her designs. Producing small quantities makes it harder for her to find reputable and reliable suppliers who are willing to accommodate her need for smaller orders. But by working with the YKK London Showroom as one of the first designers featured in a collaborative video, Spetlova can purchase a single high-quality zipper or several at a time, without having to worry about the size of her order.
Another emerging British designer the YKK London Showroom has been proud to work with and support over the years is Saul Nash. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he founded his namesake menswear label in 2018. The brand offers contemporary technical garments, which feature premium zippers and lightweight materials to allow freedom of movement. The YKK London Showroom supported him from the start, supplying him with the necessary trimmings and fastenings he needed for his graduate collection. The group is incredibly proud to see how Saul Nash’s label has grown over the years, as one of its principal aims is to support young talent from the beginning of their journey and onwards.
Although some may have doubted the success of the project, others, such as former YKK London Showroom Manager Sabine Bourgeau, knew it would be a success from the start. “I came from Italy, the proud homeland of Maestria, to accompany the birth and development of this project with the certainty that this “crazy” idea would be successful,” says Bourgeau. “Opening a showroom to show zips might seem absurd only to those who don’t know zips. It was my job to ensure that connoisseurs would find competent answers and that newbies had the opportunity to pleasantly look over a rich world, waiting to be discovered.”
It is clear that over the last five years, the showroom has achieved this and more. Earlier this year the YKK London Showroom exhibited sculptural designs from footwear designer Anastasia Radevich as part of its first showcase of the year. A graduate of the London College of Art, she follows on from an impressive line-up of emerging talent presenting work, including Wataru Sato; YKK Accessories Award Graduate Fashion Week winner Dimitri Gabellier; and contemporary Turkish artist Deniz Sağdıç, who created art pieces from off-cuts of denim, YKK zips and buttons.
However, the YKK London Showroom does not just limit itself to supporting the fashion industry. Over the years it has also worked with artists, architects and more, hosting an array of exhibitions and workshops beneficial to new talent. Last year saw the Showroom team up with British-Asian artist and activist Pins to host an interactive installation combining zippers and fine art to open up a dialogue on consumerism, mental health and social media. Entitled ‘Zippy Lippy’, the installation showcased Pins’ ideology of “unzipping the consciousness of mass-consumerism, obsession, and surface popular culture that has distorted society”.
The YKK London Showroom is proud to be a dedicated supporter of emerging design talent, encouraging this through its many workshops and exhibitions, as well as through YKK’s ten-year partnership with the ITS Platform in Italy and as a sponsor and partner of Graduate Fashion Week. Although the showroom is not able to host an event for its fifth anniversary, it will continue to support the GFW Foundation and the YKK Accessories Award.
“YKK and its stunning showroom have been such an important and intrinsic part of the Graduate Fashion Foundation and our flagship event Graduate Fashion Week,” says
Joy Campbell, Director of Graduate Fashion Week. “Through the showroom and our partnership, they continue to deliver unparalleled support and advice to the next generation of creative talent – and the support always comes with so much genuine passion and commitment. From the advice that they give students as they manufacture through to the showroom exhibitions of students’ work that builds their profiles within the industry, YKK always seeks to elevate students’ profiles and work. We are delighted to be able to collaborate with them.”
“We are extremely pleased with the success of the showroom and its usefulness as a resource for students, designers and artists,” adds Stefania Liberti, YKK London Showroom Manager. “This project was a really interesting idea from the start and the result has been amazing. Now we are in strange and uncertain times but we continue our work with designers increasing our online activity and we are looking forward to what the future has in store for the YKK London Showroom.”
Photo credits: Andrew Thompson, Tommo Photo