If you shop at Steven Alan in New York, Olive in Austin, Myrtle in L.A., Vagabond in Philly, Wait and See in Milan, Beams in Japan, or online at Of a Kind or Anthropologie, there's a good chance you've already come across Atelier Delphine.
It's hard not to notice and linger over founder Yuka Izutsu's charmingly cool prints, beautiful weaves and refined textiles, which she carefully sources from around the world. (Btw, I wore the below oversized-check gingham jumpsuit to a dinner a couple weeks ago and Alexa Chung immediately told me how much she loved it. So there.)
Izutsu counts Californian beach lifestyle ("healthy, effortless, relaxed"), French Riviera culture ("sophisticated and romantic") and her native Japan as her design inspirations. Plus, "I love Jean Seberg," she said. While now based in Los Angeles, Izutsu still goes back to small countryside mills in Japan to find her specialized fabrics. "So many things that I never noticed when I was living there make me look at things in very different way — which doesn't mean I see it as an American [views it], but I appreciate more about my own culture as a Westernized Japanese."
Though, Izutsu looks beyond Japan for the unique prints, weaves and textiles that have become signature to her line. In addition to using Liberty of London florals in the past, she's worked with women in India she found through Piece & Co on a woodblock print for spring 2016. (The international collective connects brands with local female artisans to create jobs and help eradicate poverty worldwide.)
The well-traveled designer credits her fine arts background — in L.A., she trained at both the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena — for honing her eye and passion for unique textiles and prints. "My approach to the fabrics are a little different I think," Izutsu explained. "I came from art school and wasn't a fashion design major. So I've always loved fabric because of the texture, of the history, and how it’s made and woven."
While in school, she worked at a small fashion brand to learn the business side of the industry and started Atelier Delphine in 2011 with her own savings and some help from her supportive friends and family. "I was very, very lucky to have a lot of talent around me," Izutsu said. "My husband Yoshihiro Makino is a photographer, my friend Stella Berkofsky is a model and my sewers are like my mom here in L.A. — they cook for me and they teach me many things."
While she doesn't have a fashion design or technical pattern making background, she does work with a pattern maker with over 50 years of experience to create the brand's signature clean, minimalist lines and expertly draped and ruched detailing. "Still, the way I make clothing is very awkward and different from other designers," she explained. "But I believe that always ideas [have to come] before the techniques and skills."
Buyers have jumped on board, and quickly. With her first retailer, Beams, Izutsu actually had an "in" as the decision-maker worked with her when she was at the small fashion label while in school. "The Beams head buyer came to my house four years ago," she said. "I had only three or four styles and he bought everything." Now, Atelier Delphine is stocked at over 25 Beams stores around Japan, plus 55 retail locations around the world.
While her label is already carried in some of the coolest boutiques there are, Izutsu still has her eye on more influential, trend-making retailers, including Totokaelo in Seattle, Creatures of Comfort in L.A. and New York and, of course, the holy grail of retail stores, Barneys New York. Plus, "In five or 10 years or so, I want to have my own store," she said. In the meantime, she's creating new challenges and goals for herself and the brand to meet — including a leather series for fall 2015 and a basic t-shirt collection for spring 2016. Watch this space.