We will forever love Hana Tajima and her gorgeous, effortless style – so we were incredibly excited to find out about her imminent collaboration with Uniqlo, which launches in stores tomorrow (July 3). We tracked down the designer to find out more about the collection, all her new plans and of course, her enviable relationship with Yuna.

Since you parted ways with Maysaa, you’ve been out of the public eye and the fashion design circuit for a while. What made you decide to come back?
I worked on various small projects, a lot of them unrelated to fashion. I think it was a subconscious separation from what I had done with Maysaa, and wanting to find space to create again. This unintentional hiatus was made longer by a concussion that I suffered at the end of 2013. I went into a really long and difficult recovery which lasted a little less than a year. It’s hard because you lose certain mental faculties, which are so completely tied in with your identity. The collaboration with Uniqlo began just as I was coming out of that, so it really was a way to start over and rediscover who I was as a person and as a designer.

Hanatajima_intext

Congratulations on the collaboration – how did it come about?
Uniqlo has a history of unexpected and interesting collaborations, from MoMA to textile designers. As they bring their brand to new audiences they really try to understand the lives and needs of the people they design for. Within these collaborations there is always an awareness of creating functional, well constructed pieces that are affordable enough for everyone, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Our philosophies were really well aligned and it seemed a natural fit for us to work together on a collection of beautiful clothing with a more modest focus.

Were there any difficulties aligning your styles and aesthetics?
The Uniqlo aesthetic is something I really relate to. There’s something in the process of perfecting a piece of clothing that is such a part of the Uniqlo ethic that this simple, evolving beauty becomes the visual signature. I really wanted to explore Uniqlo’s concept of LifeWear, and how that could be interpreted when the starting point is a more modest aesthetic. I have been given so much freedom and support in that. I always begin with the way a garment should feel when it’s being worn, and then translated that feeling into something visual. This idea meant a lot of soft lines and loose cuts which is a perfect base for modest styling.

Hanatajima_models

What were the pieces that you knew you definitely had to make with Uniqlo?
The headscarves were really essential to the collection. It gave us a reference point to come back to. For me, having separates and the ability to combine the clothes in a lot of different ways was important.

And which is your favourite piece from the collection?
When it came to styling the photo shoot, the slim tapered ankle pants were incredibly useful. Because there are no pockets or fastenings at the waist they are perfect for layering under tops and tunics and maintaining a sleek silhouette.

I also have a thing for the Kebaya. I’m a sucker for anything you can wear more than one way, and with the detachable skirt you have a jacket, wrap skirt, and Kebaya in one.

We know you have a special relationship with Malaysia, and the Hana Tajima x Uniqlo collection will be available first here. Does that mean you’ll be spending more time here?
I really hope so! It’s been wild coming back here after such a long time, when it feels familiar but changed. I’ve made a real home for myself in New York, but getting to spend even a week back here, makes me want to explore more of Malaysia and Southeast Asia. There’s something about the people and the mix of cultures that is so intoxicating. Hanatajima_yuna

We love that Yuna starred in your campaign for the collaboration – how did the two of you meet?
We met what seems like forever ago. I was just starting out with Maysaa, and she had just started working with a U.S. label. We met up in London and after a long evening of chatting we realised that we had this incredible connection. Our trajectories have taken us down paths that occasionally cross, but we stay in touch and stay close. Any time we’re in the same general area we find a way to catch up.

Imane of @fashionwithfaith

Imane of @fashionwithfaith

Who are some of your favourite Muslimah fashion icons?
Well there’s Yuna of course, she carries herself in such a way that is so unique to her. The same is true of Imane who has a beautiful, minimal look. Anyone who finds their own distinct version of style is interesting to me.

What are your plans after the collaboration? A lot of our readers are keen for you to start your own label again.
I’m going to be really ambiguous here. I don’t think I could stop designing even if I wanted to. It’s such an important part of who I am. Beyond that I like to keep projects to myself until the creative process is done. Once you let an idea out it belongs less to you and more to the world, and you have to get that timing right.

The Hana Tajima x Uniqlo is available in Uniqlo Malaysia stores from July 3 2015. Get a closer look at all the pieces here

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Image credit: Uniqlo, fashionwithfaith/Instagram