A brand new exclusive online clothes venture has launched in Cardiff, inspired by the style, flair and vibrant colour of Morocco.
Kitan (www.kitansouk.co.uk) is the brainchild of Japanese-born South Wales resident, Mai Yamazaki, who fell in love with the glorious shades, textures, fabrics and accessories available in Marrakech while holidaying there.
Kitan has been two years in the making, and during that time Mai has formed close relationships with the skilled and creative women who work on her unique range of hand-crafted clothes, jewellery and accessories.
Mai operates from a studio in Mill Lane in Cardiff and will be showcased in the forthcoming Cardiff Design Festival (visits to the Kitan studio available by appointment – firstname.lastname@example.org), and sells her range online.
“Setting up Kitan has been a journey for me. I have met so many wonderful people, and encountered so much generosity. I was amazed by the great skills of the artisan workers in Morocco, and wanted to bring them to a wider audience, and that was my motivation in setting up Kitan,” she explains.
“The clothing range is simple, and elegant, and crafted from beautiful fabrics such as the finest cotton, linen and and cashmere,” she says. “The lines are graceful, and easy-to-wear, and the fine, hand-crafted detailing adds a distinctive touch to each item.”
“I never commission many pieces in a particular style or colour, so my customers know their purchases are unique.”
The name Kitan comes from the braid used for the piping on the edges of garments, for accenting seams and for decoration and embellishment – a beautiful touch that is used widely in Mai’s collection.
“The range of items with which to decorate clothing is astonishing. If you want braid to decorate a particular garment, there are literally hundreds to choose from. If the shop keeper doesn’t have the exact shade you want, he will recommend someone else, rather than sell you something that’s approximately right. I was impressed by this incredible commitment to detail.”
When Mai is working in Morocco, she stays with a local family, learning about the culture, language, and cooking and sewing with the family. Thanks to the friendships Mai has made, she now has a fine network of artisan workers creating her range.
For example, Latifa, who lives in the medina of Marrakech, and is the mother of five children.
“I wanted to honour the needlework skills these women have, and provide an opportunity for them to earn money from these skills in a fair and equal environment,” Mai says.
The Kitan range now encompasses jackets, coats, tops, tunics, trousers, bags, jewellery, scarves and shawls.