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BRAND STORY: Kodama talks all things sustainability and eco-friendly in Australian streetwear

Yes, fashion is fun, but it ever occurred to us to even think, “Where does the fabrics come from?” “How was these garments made?” ,“What chemical process are used?”

Ego Expo got to chat up close and personal with founder and designer, Natsuko Kondo, about up-and-coming streetwear label based out of Melbourne’s own vibrant city… please welcome, Kodama Apparel.

Q&A with Natsuko

Ego Expo: Let’s dive straight into it, tell us about Kodama Apparel? Where does the idea of the brand and the name come from?

Kodama Apparel: I’ve worked as product developer for offshore production in apparel companies and over the years I realised how wasteful the industry is. So when I decided to build Kodama Apparel I started asking a lot of questions like “where and how was this fabric made?”, “how much water and chemicals were used?”, etc. To be environmentally friendly and sustainable became really important to me.

In terms of the name… “Kodama” is an ancient word in Japan meaning ‘tree spirit’. When you call out in the middle of the mountains your voice bounces back. They used to say it was because there were spirits living in the forest. It tied back to my sustainability concept so I decided to take ‘kodama’ as part of the brand name.

Ego Expo: That’s so true, I think as we become more environmentally conscious as a society, more and more people are wanting to know more about where the clothes they are wearing are actually sourced. We want to feel good wearing clothes, and we feel even better knowing a garment’s history! So, why did you start? How old/young is the brand?

Kodama Apparel: I love to create and always dreamed of having my own brand since I was a teenager. Through my work I hope to inspire others for a sustainable, greener future.

Kodama Apparel is still very young. The idea of the brand started to form in late 2016 but it’s only been the last few months I started fully working on it.

Ego Expo: I think that’s a similar journey to a lot of other emerging brands around Australia… tell us, who do you think are your customers? Describe your ideal customer.

Kodama Apparel: Anyone who’s into streetwear or unisex styles and looking for something that’s a bit different. But the brand also reaches out to anyone who’s curious about the environmental impacts within the fashion space and want to be eco-friendly.

Ego Expo: There are many brands out there in this great market of “streetwear”. Why do you think people choose your brand over others?

Kodama Apparel: I don’t want Kodama Apparel to be just another clothing brand. My ultimate goal is to inspire people and build a sustainable future together. It’s all about sharing ideas and advices with our community building ‘connected-ness’ and that’s what it makes it special.

Ego Expo: I love that – as a community and the power of connection, it’s exactly what street culture is all about. What other brands do you admire? Who in the industry has inspired you?

Kodama Apparel: I’ve always admired Yohji Yamamoto’s work. I love the gender-neutral looks and the fluid silhouettes. I’m also inspired by haute couture – it’s an art. The amount work that goes into the detailing and workmanship always amazes me.

Ego Expo: So good! How do you want people to feel when they wear your products? As most labels are on e-commerce, what do you want your online experience to be too? (You know, from your social media profiles, to your website).

Kodama Apparel: I want people to feel connected with the styles they’re wearing, and the message behind it. Same goes to the online experience and also a sense of ‘together-ness’.

Ego Expo: And if you only had 3-5 words to describe your brand – what would they be?

Kodama Apparel: “Environmentally conscious, unisex and sustainable.”

Ego Expo: Very powerful few words that definitely sums up the brand in a nutshell! Direct and powerful. Just to finish, my favourite question, what do you think the best part of street culture is?

Kodama Apparel: Community – I think that’s the best part of street culture. There’s a sense of belonging-ness, we’re a family.


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