It's been a little over five years since Riyoko was founded, and I recently had an opportunity to be part of a very thoughtful interview with Momentum Magazine for the Fashion Designer feature in the October/ November 2013 edition. The full interview really got me chatting about what riyoko is all about, and I wanted to share the full interview with all of you, so here it goes!:
Who is Riyoko?
Day-to-day, Riyoko is Kristi Woo, myself. I am the Founder and Designer. Riyoko is also made up of the supportive, and talented community that surrounds it for pieces of each project:
(Top L to Bottom R: Kristi, Riyoko Designer & Founder; Heather, Briggs Stategy; Jerisse, Visual Marketing; Kevin, Kiss Photo; Jordan, Barb, AJ, Foon, Models & Photographer; AJ, Valadka Photography; Ajay, Web Programmer: Giles (right), Print Media; Wilma, Manufacturing; Hoyee, Model; Jordan, Design Assistant; Dubs, Model)
When did Riyoko form?
Riyoko was established in 2008 and production began in 2009/ 10.
What inspired the creation of Riyoko?
When I was in Uni, I rediscovered cycling. I was a design student, and during that time, I either made my own clothes or shopped vintage. As time went on, I started making, altering, and buying clothing to suit my cycling needs. Movement, breathability, comfort and style, and the ability to pack the pieces into my bag were key. I decided I wanted to make urban cycling clothing for women, but didn't have the means to do so yet. I was also in flux with how to use my skill set in the Fashion industry; I wanted to make sure to support the ideals I believed in: fair wage, quality production, sustainable practices, and a positive body image for women, so I went overseas to travel and work, and contemplate how I could do this. As I was traveling, I also discovered I had some of the same challenges with travel attire that I did with my cycling attire, and when I arrived home, I became aware of the small percentage of fellow women cyclists on the road with me.
I wanted more women cycling. I wanted to provide a strong and healthy example for womens' urban cycling. I knew that functional yet stylish clothing was a barrier for me when I started, and I had the skill set to address that. I also wanted to support quality goods made in Canada. I meshed together these attributes with my other experiences, discoveries and beliefs, and riyoko was founded.
Who are Riyoko garments created for?
Riyoko is created for women who live and move, and who want to enjoy their daily experiences and journeys in well-made comfort, and style - whether they are on a bike, on a bus, a plane or at the store. Women who bike don't always live on their bikes, they walk, run, sit, travel, camp, go dancing, etc., so riyoko makes clothes for women that function in all the urban travel aspects of their lives.
Why is it important to create clothing for women who ride bikes for transportation?
It is important to be comfortable and functional in whatever we do. Clothing is a necessary accessory to our daliy lives, it shouldn't dictate what we do, or how we do it, but it should do it with us, and do it well. Sometimes clothing can be a challenge on a bicycle. Pants can get ruined from chain grease, skirts can get caught, pieces don't breath or wickaway, they retain odor, seams wear and rip due to stress, jackets are not wind or water resistant, pieces are not visible, and/ or they aren't easy to travel with or pack. For women who bike for transportation, clothing that integrates into their everyday wardrobe and yet functions technically becomes very important. Their clothing needs to breathe, move, travel and endure. Pieces such as these allow us to go about our day in comfort and style without having to worry so much about fit, sweat, durability, visibility, packability or style.
How is the importance of being active (both physically and as part of a community) integrated into Riyoko?
Actions taken are like physical votes, so the importance of being active is practiced in a few different avenues at riyoko:
- riyoko works with like-minded Canadian businesses to support the Canadian economy, lower our carbon footprint.
- In studio and in production, riyoko works with other like-minded businesses to practices as close to zero waste as possible.
One of the reasons riyoko was formed was to support and encourage women cycling, of course through the clothing, and also through co-leading, Cyclofemme YYC. A monthly ride in support of getting more women cyclists on the road in Calgary. We take different routes on each ride to introduce new ways to get around town via our bikes in a safe and comfortable manner and pace.
Riyoko helped start and continues to support Cyclepalooza, a community-driven, do-it-yourself bicycle festival held for ten days every June in Calgary. With a variety of bike-related events, Cyclepalooza brings together people of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels through cycling for fun and transportation.
Why is 100% Canadian made important to you?
There are a couple reasons:
- Staying true to the ideals of cycling as much as possible, producing local, and Canadian keeps the carbon footprint smaller.
- Producing in Canada supports the economy and brings it home. These days, many of the the Canadian textile mills, and manufacturers are shut down, or have moved overseas. Less is made here. As a Canadian designer, it's important to support what I do, and design and produce quality pieces in Canada, carry on the trademark of quality and durability, and support the local job market and economy that I exist in.
- Quick, cheap fashion that is made elsewhere, which is not consciously made, or technically well-made is very common nowadays. Just as riyoko believes in a lower carbon footprint. Riyoko also believes in a smaller consumption footprint. Riyoko pieces are quality pieces made to last by people we know and have a rapor with.
What is next for Riyoko?
Workwise, making Sweater Dresses, Riding Hoodies, and Fleecy Tights to cozy up in for F/W 2013, and putting my head down to design for Spring 2014.
Thank you Momentum for asking me such thoughtful questions.
To the journey ~