At 5th Season Designs, owner Akiko Oguchi has set out to change the world’s view of waste, one hand sewn bag at a time.
“Things don’t need to become waste,” Oguchi said. “Things become waste due to the limited fashion in which they are being utilized. It’s all perspective. I anthropomorphize waste as a sad child, his potential unrecognized, being shuffled around, and in the end, marginalized from society. I view waste as underutilized, undervalued greatness.”
At 5th Season, waste is the only material used to create backpacks, handbags, iPad sleeves and makeup bags, among other products. Oguchi’s material comes from coffee bag burlap, cotton textiles, cherry wood taken from tree cuttings, old clothing and other recycled material. Apart from each season’s line of bags, she also regularly creates custom made products out of old materials brought to her by customers. She has used old dresses, jeans and even a grandfather’s shirt to create bags that are not only recycled, but sentimental.
“I cheer for the underdogs,” Oguchi said. “The more ripped and deadly a pair of pants look, having little to no chance of being worn again, the more I want to salvage what I can and recreate it into bag – give it a new life, essentially. It’s a stretch but it’s like playing god with clothing and textile. I dictate when it’s at the end of its life and what it will be reincarnated into.”
5th Season’s mission is centered around decreasing what Oguchi calls overuse of limited natural resources, and irreversible environmental impacts. She sees the current system as extracting natural resources, chemically treating, manipulating and processing them, and returning them into nature as waste. At 5th Season, she said she hopes to create a symbiotic cycle that others will emulate.
By prematurely discarding material, Oguchi said she believes that one not only increases waste, but also disregards the hard work put into production. In order to appreciate the resources and energy that go into creating products, she said she keeps in mind who, how, where and under what conditions consumer goods are produced.
“Globalization and technological advances have afforded us the luxury, or curse, of not seeing these processes, resulting in a lax attitude of hasty discarding,” Oguchi said.
At 5th Season, Oguchi said she carefully selects her materials, before assembly. Afterward, she sews each individual bag herself – something she said she wants to continue doing, even as her business grows.
“There is something so magical about matching just the right combination and amount of colors and pattern,” she said. “I always envision myself wielding a wand, looking at the blank burlap, with an array of beautiful, colorful textile floating around me as I pull and arrange each piece, mixing and matching.”
5th Season bags can be purchased online at the 5th Season: Clothing Reborn Etsy shop.