Behind The Design: Kazu Yokotsuka Of Lavenham

Since 1969, Lavenham have been producing premium quilted clothing proudly made in England. Working with only the finest British cloth manufacturers, every single Lavenham item is still made just 6 miles from the location of their very first factory in Suffolk. The wadding found in Lavenham’s quilting comes from the North of England and is made using 65% recycled fibres along with a full repair service where the same hands who originally crafted your gilet or jacket will repair it, if it needs it.

For AW19 we are excited to introduce Lavenham into our globally sourced brand collection. Wanting to get into the DNA of the brand and find out more, we spoke to Kazu Yokotsuka – head of creative at Lavenham.

Currently based in Tokyo, Kazu has a deep affinity for the UK, it’s style and heritage in manufacturing from studying at Central Saint Martins and spending long spells living in London. Kazu also has had his own label in Japan and held senior design roles at British brands, including being part of the original MHL. design team at Margaret Howell.

Hi Kazu, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. You have spent time before living in London and also studying at CSM – what were your initial impressions on England from a style standpoint and was there any differences that stood out to you from Japan?

British style is famous all over the world. Influences come from lots of places including the climate, so there is a great sense of function and being fit for purpose alongside a history of tailoring and elegance. I can see a similarity to Japan in that way, so although the reference are different the bringing together of heritage and purpose exists well in both countries.

In our past visits to Tokyo, we have noticed a deep love and affinity for well crafted Made in England, USA and France apparel and footwear from brands such as Lavenham, Engineered Garments and Paraboot to name a few. Why do you think this manufacturing standpoint resonates so well with the Japanese market?

We are fortunate that Lavenham has a very strong customer base in Japan, it is well known here for quality. The Japanese customer is obsessed with quality and the brands you mention are also equally obsessive about craftsmanship, so you can say they are a good match for one another. We make every single product in our Suffolk factory and there are some very skilled people there. There are even ladies who can re-sew slipped quilting stitches by hand into the original needle holes! The skill and authenticity is why people come to us.

When designing for Lavenham, is there a particular mission you aim to achieve across each item and are there any Japanese suitabilities you look to crossover to bring to Lavenham being a heritage made in England label?

There are lots of great outerwear brands in the world, but only one Lavenham, so I always start from within our own DNA. We are 50 years old this year so there is a lot to be inspired by! It is also important for me to consider people actually wearing the final item. In Japan layering is a really important and that is fundamental to the Lavenham collection as well.

Which Lavenham item are you currently wearing the most?

I’m in our Heath Gilet in black. It is the perfect mid-layer for me, and a contemporary update on an original gilet we have been making since the very beginning of the brand.

What can we expect next from Lavenham?

We’ve got some really exciting collaboration projects coming up with people who share our philosophies but have played with our DNA in really interesting ways… but you’ll have to wait and see who.

New for AW19 – Lavenham. Online now.