DIY TOKYO- A&M Acessories
A&M Accessories is a start-up fashion label based out of Tokyo and run by two Polish entrepreneursBy Dan Lenk on 22/4/15
A&M Accessories is a start-up fashion label based out of Tokyo and run by two Polish entrepreneurs, Agnieszka Kowalczyk and Magda Kowalczyk. AWEH had an opportunity to shoot some questions back and forth with Agnieszka which covered a range of topics including tastes, setting up a small-medium scale business in Japan and how to promote your brand and events. Check out her ideas below.
AWEH: What is A&M Accessories and who are the people involved?
Aga: We are two Polish designers, based out of Japan and Spain. We are fascinated by the reflection and interpretation of culture within fashion trends. Through our handmade jewelry we offer a unique blend of Asian and European influences which are found in our designs.
A&M stands for our monikers, Aga and Magda. We are currently interested in designing accessories, such as necklaces, and earrings but are looking forward to getting involved in the clothing industry. Our goal is to create remarkable pieces which mirror our personalities and flair for design.
AWEH: What convinced you to set up shop in Japan? Are then any unique cultural characteristics to establishing a business in Japan and handling all the day to day things that it takes to get something like A&M going?
Aga: Japan is famous for its amazing street fashion and this is where we would love to ultimately reach our customers.
Fashion plays a huge role in Japanese society because it is considered to be a simple way of expressing your personality, manifesting who you are, as well as showing others that you are aware of the latest trends. In a society where people have to strictly abide by social rules it’s a great way of standing out without breaking them. This phenomenon can be easily observed in big cities all over Japan, and thanks to this there exists a budding ground of creativity and an untapped market for our creations.
Being an enthusiastic foreign entrepreneur in Japan is definitely a challenge. First of all, it’s important to understand that in most cases work is the center of your life. Therefore, if you decide to build a rapport with a company, shop or simply an individual retailer, you have to respect and nourish this relationship. Unfortunately, there are a number of suppliers who we can only communicate with in Japanese or Spanish, hence it has been crucial for us to learn other languages which may enable smoother communication.
AWEH: What kind of ethos is behind it? What sort of sub-cultures in Tokyo do you find yourself involved with?
Aga: Our aim is to bring a breath of fresh air into the fashion market by introducing revolutionary and innovative designs. Each piece is a one-off creation, designed and created with passion and meticulous detail. We believe that by wearing our quirky yet stylish pieces everyone can feel vibrant and stunning. We aim to enrich our patrons’ style with our exquisite accessories.
Japanese fashion can be seen as an eclectic blend of all European trends, Asian combinations, with an almost architectural deconstructivism, combined with traditional styles. Nevertheless we'd rather not be associated with any particular Tokyo sub-culture since all of them represent very unique and distinguishable styles. What they share, however, is the need for showing freedom of expression as well as inspiring other designers who wish to join the Japanese fashion scene.
AWEH: What are the main ways to promote what you’re doing in Tokyo? Is it substantially web/WeChat based or more by word of mouth?
Aga: Tokyo is the place where fashion trends are started, innovation is encouraged and names are made. There are plenty of interesting fashion and design-related fairs, which we are always eager to get involved with and this is where we usually reach our audience. We also find it striking that there are quite a substantial number of regular citizens who approach us on streets, in coffee shops or shopping malls, showing appreciation for our designs and enthusiastically enquiring about them. We are also indebted to our supportive friends who promote our brand simply by wearing our accessories and raising brand recognition through word of mouth.
AWEH: Your design style seems to lean towards utilizing loud colors and not shying away from large-sized pieces. What is the concept behind this approach?
Aga: We strongly believe that by not shying away from bold colors and large-sized yet lightweight pieces the wearer can exude confidence and beauty. As aforementioned, every accessory is unique so even by choosing the right piece one demonstrates their taste and sense of style. We don't follow the latest crazes, we are not concerned about being "in", but strive to create statement pieces instead, which may enrich our customers' wardrobes and make them stand out from the crowd of women wearing mass produced trinkets.
AWEH: Finally, how was Tokyo Designers Week this year? What did you take away from it, and did it influence your concepts in any particular way?
Aga: Tokyo Designers Week is one of the biggest art and performance events in Japan, so being selected for this festival definitely stimulated our creative energy and offered an unforgettable experience. It's always thrilling to meet not only professional but also aspiring designers, keen on getting their name on the map. There have been a number of successful clothing brands that got their start at festivals similar to TDW, and have since been selling all over the world. We are grateful therefore for the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the way they promote and exhibit their work.
A&M Acessories are actively involved in DIY trade shows in the Tokyo area and beyond. Keep up to date with the company's creative designs and acessories on their facebook page at: