A Glow of Sunshine
In downtown LA, the factory of fashion house “dosa” occupies a single floor of an old building. Roughly the size of a schoolyard, that space furnishes the entire production process from concept-making to actual production; it is equipped with a gallery, photo studio, and design area, accommodating such activities as cutting, patternmaking, sewing, accounting, and sales.
When I opened the factory door, there to greet me with a glowing smile was Christina Kim herself, the founder and designer of dosa. She moved from South Korea to LA when she was fifteen, and apart from the time she lived in Italy, she has been continuously active in the LA fashion scene. Maintaining her radiant expression, she introduced me to each member of her staff as we toured the factory. Remarkably, they, too, had beautiful smiles with an air of confidence and sophistication matching Christina’s.
A few minutes away on foot is the apartment building where Christina resides on the top floor. Upon arrival, in comparison to the factory, its vastness did not disappoint; large windows provided abundant sunlight to every corner of the room, and the absence of partitions produced a delightful spaciousness filled with her creations and collection. Everything was neatly and beautifully, yet informally, displayed like museum pieces. A large indigo-dyed cushion that could easily accommodate ten people, ceramic ware, handmade baskets, an enormous collection of art books, and an entire wall covered with her photos from trips all serve to make her home a virtual treasure-trove of inspiring objects.
Christina’s appreciation for carefully handcrafted items is not limited to textiles alone. When asked about her favorite, she pointed to a small chair made of woven leather strips. On closer observation, it appeared to be woven from an assortment of worn-out belts. She explained that it was a makeshift stool from a small shoemaker in Mexico that leather craftsmen made for themselves to use during work. She was fascinated by this piece of furniture--an object not made for sale, but created by artisans for their own practical use; in fact, it took five years before the shoemakers finally yielded it to her. Having heard this, I proposed for Christina to have her portrait seated on that stool. Immediately she replied, “That’s a great idea,” and joyfully seated herself upon it.
Christina’s eyes always shine with delight in new discoveries. Out of her creations, her unclouded sincerity and love for humankind emerge. With sparkling eyes, she spoke of her hopes to someday collaborate with Japanese traditional artists to create completely new pieces. Although we had little time, we enjoyed exchanging thoughts on ways of life and views on the creative process. Back in Japan, I am already eager to see her again--to see that smile befitting Los Angeles, the city flooded with sunlight.
text and photography: Hideaki Hamada
translation: Michiyo Shibuya and Norie Lynn Fukuda