From shapes, functionality, and structure, RENMEI explores the usefulness of the garments they create. During our conversation with the designer, we explored the layers of happiness, the beauty of sewing, and ending an era.
What do you think about first, shape, function, or structure when you see a garment in your closet, in your shopping cart, or on your Instagram feed? When I look at RENMEI garments, I immediately think about the shape and structure. A level of intentionality and intricate details draws me in instantly. During my conversation with RENMEI, I soon learned that RENMEI is a one-person team, which I feel is their advantage. Being able to collaborate with fabric from ideas you dream of directly–no middle person, just pure creation. Read below to learn more about RENMEI and what’s on the horizon.
Who are you?
Who am I? I am a small-town Wisconsin girl. I am thoughtful, organized, hardworking, and hopefully friendly. So much of who I am is what I do.
Do you ever think about how you want people to interact with your work?
At the center of what I do is focus on utility. I like the things that I make to be something that someone can find useful within their life. For what I'm selling [at] Notre is undergarments. As a [cis] woman has [an] obvious usefulness to it. But outside of that, it's like a combination of both. There's that intent that I start with. But I'm extremely happy. However, anyone wants to interact with what I make. It's always fun to see how someone might style it or use it–outside of my original intent.
At the center of what I do is focus on utility. I like the things that I make to be something that someone can find useful within their life.
How would you describe your relationship with your work?
I think I have a bit of an obsession with the act of sewing and constructing. My background and my schooling are in sculpture. My relationship with my work fulfills this need; I have to make things and hit a perfect middle ground of allowing you to make things, having those things have a clear intent and purpose. And finding peace in the beauty of the craft of sewing. My work and making things keeps me steady in life.
RENMEI for Notre, Photographed by Alex Pombo
How often do you think about structure, form, and functionality? And has that always been something that you thought about? Either, you know, within the confines of your work or on a day-to-day basis of everyday life?
Functionality is essential to me. And I think about that in pretty much every aspect of my life. I'm a pretty minimal person. My mom always makes fun of me because I own like…nothing. But everything that I have is thoughtful and functional. And being human [there] is a desire for beauty as well. I think form, function, and human creation always play a role with one another. I think all those things are at play in my life, constantly bouncing around in my head.
I think form, function, and human creation always play a role with one another. I think all those things are at play in my life, constantly bouncing around in my head.
The core of my obsession is in the construction and structure of clothing; it’s genuinely fascinating. And that's why I'm so entangled in the actual production of making the thing because so much of my intrigue is around how items are put together. It's like this organic 3d puzzle that wraps itself around a human and can live in real life.
What can we expect with this collaboration with Notre?
This collaboration is perhaps what I'm known for at this point [undergarments]. But, I did it myself in an exceptional colorway–hand dyed fabric in my kitchen.[This] may be the last time I want to make a variation of the set. I think [this is] an excellent way to end the era.
How do you measure happiness?
I think about this a lot. I listened to [this] podcast, and it's about happiness. There are two different layers of happiness; the immediate happiness you experience in your day-to-day life. Am I comfortable? Do I have food? Do I have love? And then there's the layer of happiness that's an overarching purpose that gives you hope for the future and makes you feel fulfilled in a more grand sense than immediate comfort.
RENMEI is now available in-store at Notre for a limited-time. Photographed by Drake Sweeny and Interview by Kizer.