On March 3 Sportswear International caught up with the Tokyo-based Greek designer Michail Gkinis of the up-and-coming brand aptform.
By Paul McInnes

Can you tell us about your new F/W 10 collection?
It’s based on the idea of “industrial versus nature” which is part of my brand philosophy. I got interested in the photographs of Karl Blossfeldt; he’s a late 19th-century scientist and photographer of plants. I was intrigued by the way the plants develop and this, for me, is the highest form of artistic expression without restriction. I like to make single layer shirts, jackets and coats which are lightweight and I started to work on this subject while incorporating more technical aspects.

Where do you get your textiles from?
Everything is always made in Japan and for this collection I collaborated with fantastic textile companies like Maruwa Knit and Furuhashi Textiles. I used their highly technological material to make items such as jackets and shirts. I also use my own original technique which is leather bonded with cotton and then cut and then hand-knitted. These items are also highly regarded by men but also by women. We also used a new technique in collaboration with the Japanese artisan Kuniko Shinohara. It’s called yubiami, which is knitting by fingers. She created this technique and she has even produced many books about it. She knitted some yubiami vests and various other items for us. The cornice scarves, using new Japanese yarn, have also been popular.

Are you doing other accessories?
Yes, gloves, scarves, belts and suspenders. The belts use washed leather and the gloves are hand-painted by me.

How many pieces do you have in this collection?
About 40 pieces.

You have been picked up by Blake (womenswear boutique) in Chicago haven’t you?
Yes, it has always been our intention to make men’s clothes which can also be used for women. Our comfortable, distressed jackets can be fashionable for women too. Women could wear these utility clothes from day until night. Also a lot of the clothes look classic but have a more futuristic twist. This is partly what aptform is about.

Who do you design for?
I design for me but broadly speaking he is 30-40 years old, a creative person who belongs in the artistic world. People who are confident in life and like to experiment with nice materials and shapes. They are not afraid to challenge themselves. People who can be happy wearing nice materials and nice silhouettes.

What‘s the next step for aptform?
To focus on entering the US market. We have had a good response there and we have an offer to work and be represented there and we want to take the direction of men’s designs for the women’s market. I like to play with the idea that two people can wear the same jacket. Sometimes my wife and I wear the same items with little adaptations. This is a forward-looking way of making clothes. Also from Mar. 30 to Apr. 14 we have an event at Takashimaya in Nagoya and I’ll be there in person on the 3rd to the 4th. It will include some spring/summer items and maybe some from this new collection. All of the items will be available to buy. We will bring apparel and accessories and it will all be made to order like my hand-drawn T-shirt series, which will soon be available with several other items including accessories on the aptform webstore.

Photo courtesy of Jaime De Almeida