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Vincent Meyrick's Fellowship update from Japan

2022 George Alexander Foundation Fellow Vincent Meyrick has sent through a detailed update from his 2-month Fellowship trip to Japan. Vincent is studying Japanese and pattern making with a deep interest in fashion; particularly in reviving tailoring and knitwear as a part of the textile industry.

"Last year when I was in Melbourne I was for the most part simultaneously working on my collection whilst also training and working at Knovus. Due to this commitment to my own practice as well as Patricias It made it tricky for me to get over here and head directly to the knitwear programming course at Shima. At the same time as I was trying to organise the course at Shima Seiki to learn about wholegarment, I was introduced to my now very good Japanese Tesshun Sato.

We were introduced at random by a mutual friend who had just moved back to Tokyo. Tesshun is the son of a man named Masaki Sato the owner of one of the worlds best knitting and yarn spinning mills. Tesshun helped me set up a two month internship at his company as well as a private meeting with two Shima Seiki executives to discuss my training. I am very much grateful to him and the ISSI for the opportunities that have come about in japan. I would understand just how large the scope of my training would be until I actually got here.

For the past two Months I have been fully taken on and embraced by everyone as a member of the company. This involves a very different lifestyle to the one I was used to in Melbourne. I get up at 6am most days and work from about 7: 45am to sometimes later than 8: 30pm if I am pursuing a personal project. I was thrown in the deep end with my Japanese, because it's a very rural town. No one here apart from my friend Tesshun speaks English so I have had to gain a work level fluency quickly! (I never expected it but a added plus of this Fellowship was becoming fluent in Japanese!)

I have been extremely proactive in my documentation, I write for an hour or two each day and take lots of photos and videos that I will compile and use for my talks and paper when I am back in Melbourne. I'll be sure to send you a few now. Sorry I haven't been posting or sending lots your way. I am so consumed by constantly documenting things and working that it can be hard to do anything else. I am now heading into my last weeks of my internship here and things are starting to slow down which is nice. After this time I have also set aside a month or two of holidaying to focus on going over my notes for dissemination and paper purposes.

Everyday I work in one of the five huge factories located here in Yamagata. Although I had originally come with intent to only study knitwear programming when I started to understand the extent of the company I asked Tesshun if I was able to do as broad of an internship as possible. Seeing as the company makes a huge variety of clothing and knit and textile it turned out to be a truly world defining experience and has started me on my journey to starting my own factory in Melbourne. I started off at what is called the 'original factory'. My first two weeks here were spent studying knitwear programming and machine use specifically during work hours. The company has around 200 Shima Seiki machines across the two knit specific factories. Then after that I went patternmaking and cutting (this company does a mix of wholegarment, fully fashioned and cut and sew). Then product checking, steam setting and lastly product packaging.

Work ends at 5pm here but everyone will stay back and work a few hours of unpaid overtime. In those hours all the factory's facilities are at my fingertips and I use this to mostly make my own knits and work on learning more about knit programs. My programming skills are still very basic but there are a lot of people here keen to teach me things which feel vastly different from Australia, one of the many topics I want to help address!

A week ago I moved to the yarn spinning factory known as Three Lakes. In this factory they spin many yarns that they use themselves and also sell to other companies. They make a large variety of wools, alpaca and mix yarns. I have been properly learning how to operate all the machines and have taken quite a liking to spinning which I will introduce as a new topic in my paper if that is alright! I have made friends with a lot of people in the company and I will be able to re-visit anytime for training.

They are a cool company driven by the power of really cool factory skills, I feel very blessed to have ended up here. I can't wait to tell you all about it in more detail in my report.

A week ago I met with two of the Shima executives and was given a private tour of their factories. We also had a lovely dinner with the head of the company, Dr. Shima's Son. The conversation around my training is slow going due to Japanese social practice but it is very much happening. I made very good friends with the head of Shima Australia whilst I visited.

As Well I am in the process of pursuing a design internship in Tokyo. I miss home a lot but if I am offered one by the right company I will take it!"

Applications close 31 March 2023 for our latest round of George Alexander Foundation Fellows.

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