An Interview With Justin Smith, The Milliner from UK

The second part of my interview about Oscar Lawalata and Justin Smith collaboration will focus more on Justin’s perspective on this project. It is interesting to see how millinery, something that is known to be very British to go, with Oscar style that is always known for his penchant of our traditional traits.

I’m sure you are familiar with Oscar Lawalata but you might be not as familiar to the name Justin Smith. He’s a well-known milliner or hat maker from UK. Oscar and Justin share many things in common, among others they are both winners of a prestigious competition held by the British Council – Justin Smith won UK Young Creative Entrepreneur Fashion Award in 2010 and Oscar won International Young Creative Entrepreneur in 2009. They both cherish handmade creation and traditional heritage. That’s why they collaborate to present a very special show during this fashion week titled “A Collaboration of Justin Smith and Oscar Lawalata”.

What crossed your mind when you first heard you were going to collaborate with Oscar?

It was really nice to meet him. We traveled around so we can reach here a few months ago. I’m excited to see how the vision between something very British like hat will go through catwalk with outfit work which is quite Indonesian using Indonesian textile, and how that vision can actually work for the show. So, I’m excited!

Tell us about the collection that you will be showing at JFW 2012!

There’s a little bit inspiration from Britain which I had made for my previous collection. So, a little bit of that mixed with a lot of thinking about what what are the tones, which silhouette, the fabric, the texture that I think would work or the hat but isn’t too much. So I try to build a collection, starting with something very simple and wearable. I try to make a collection reflecting of a flower blooming, hopefully it’s exciting and inspiring for the people as well.

Actually, what’s your signature style in creating hats?

My signature style, I guess with hats people can play a lot. I think I have a signature style taken from traditional British milliner, kinda old-fashioned hat, really. And then I make them a bit more contemporary, playing with the styling. So I guess that’s my signature, twisting the traditional British note and then adding something contemporary.

What do you expect from your collaboration with Oscar?

I don’t have any expectation, I guess. I’m being excited by it, combine it, how we’re gonna style it. It’s great to work with Oscar, I really enjoyed working with him and I like his vision. I think it will be really nice to see where it goes. With a collaboration, it’s like a relationship, you know. When you start that, it’s exciting but you’re slightly unsure what you can do, what you can’t do. Then it will grow and develop into something by itself. So I don’t have any expectation this time, but I’m excited to know what people think. You know hat is very traditional here, and my hat is very British. I’m trying to push the boundaries to know what people thinking.

Did you find any difficulty during the research and production of this collection?

Not really. The research was great and we traveled around quite a lot and the inspiration I had also came from Oscar’s website to develop what I did. When I’m back in London, I actually tried to keep the communication and to develop it into something strong and I think that’s the only problem.

Besides explaining about his collection and collaboration with Oscar, Justin also expressed how he likes Indonesian textile. He said that everywhere he goes in Indonesia, he see beautiful traditional clothes. And it’s hard for him to choose his most favorite. If he had not decided which Indonesian fabric or art he used in the collection, he would get distracted since he saw each regions in Indonesia has interesting textile :D

And oh, I also asked him the tips to wear hat in Indonesia. His only advice is to be confident in wearing hat. I agree with you, Justin and good luck for tonight!