Starting your own fashion label is a dream come true for many London College of Fashion (LCF) graduates, and Elisabeth Pek is one of them. A 2011 alumna of the MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear course at University of the Arts London (UAL), Elisabeth launched her luxury fashion brand SHOHEI this year – which creates sustainable fashion for people with a dynamic lifestyle.
The Partnerships team caught up with Elisabeth to learn more about SHOHEI, her career in Tokyo after graduating from UAL and her sources of inspiration as a designer.
Thanks for your time Elisabeth. Why did you choose LCF to study fashion?
I wanted to study a Master’s degree in menswear design, and I knew LCF was one of the best colleges to learn authentic traditional tailoring craft. It also offered the opportunity to use modern technologies such as 3D scanning, 3D printing, laser cutting, special machines, and STOLL M1+ knitting, among many others.
One of the most inspirational people I met during my time at LCF was Alan Cannon Jones; it was so valuable working with him in the menswear course. His knowledge of traditional tailoring is unpayable and at the same time he looks at things with a fresh, modern perspective.
The UAL partnerships team met you recently while you were working in Tokyo. What was your role there and how did the opportunity come about?
It was a great surprise to meet up with the UAL alumni team in Tokyo earlier this year. At the time I was working as a designer for a major fashion-house; a job that I found through the UAL Creative Opportunities jobs board.
At first I was glad to work with a highly talented team consisting of LCF, Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martin’s graduates. The way of working as a designer in Japan is highly creative and less trend-oriented. It was possible to work in different fields, such as jersey, weaving, knitwear, and tailoring. Working in Japan was a life changing experience, which has taken my career further in many ways.
You have recently set up a new fashion line; tell us a bit more about it?
My time in Japan led me to my next career step of becoming the CEO and Creative Director of my own brand with the name SHOHEI, which is a Japanese male name that means ‘world-peace.’
For SHOHEI, I am creating women’s and men’s fashion with a minimal and sporty design-aesthetic. It’s a label that brings the value of garment construction and detail from menswear into the design of womenswear, and the playfulness of womenswear into the design of menswear. The concept of the brand value proposition is to focus on the traditional craft of garment making, whilst also blending technology into the design to create a label that is organic, yet smart. I use only sustainable fabrics, as well as modern technological fabrics and all the materials are free of animal products. The garments are made in Italy and other parts of Europe, although I am also extending the manufacturing side to Japan now.
SHOHEI debuted its SS17 collection at a multi-label showroom during Paris Fashion Week, and will continue next season with the AW 17/18 collections showing at both the Paris and Tokyo Fashion Weeks.
From where do you get inspiration for your work?
I have always been fascinated by anthropology, philosophy, and reading science fiction to think about the world we live in; where things come from and the vision of where they could go to. I find it fascinating to look back at totemistic cultures and their simplified way of thinking, considering we now live in such a fast paced, technology-driven world. In the grand scheme of things, native and modern worldviews are surprisingly similar and embrace each other.
It’s exciting to learn about the relationship between the ancient and the modern, of hierarchy systems, life definitions, the relationship of humans and their surroundings in modern society.
My fashion creates a dialog of man and the modern world within culture, technology and nature. SHOHEI’s new collection SS17 – ‘conservation of mind’ – is inspired by the way people interact from different cultural backgrounds, and the existence of certain barriers between language, expression, body language, mimics etc. For this collection I used conservative colours, such as royal blue, red, white and gold to express the idea of the conservative mind of each culture.
What wisdom do you have for creatives of the future?
I would say get yourself a good overview of the fashion industry and how it functions, set your goals for the future, and always keep on following your vision.
The fashion industry is very complex, but if you know what you want nothing can irritate you.
SHOHEI will launch an online store in spring 2017. To see more of Elisabeth Pek’s work, visit SHOHEI on Instagram.