Featured brand: Yumiko

Yumiko Logo 2012

Yumiko is a prestigious dance wear brand, producing leotards and unitards for women and men.   Why mention Yumiko in this blog?  Well, they do make one style of tights for men, and that’s good enough for me!  But they also have a very impressive line of active wear for men and women.

Yumiko Takeshima designer 2
(photo credit to Dance Pulp)

Born in Asahikawa, Japan to parents who owned a small Kimono business, Takeshima began dancing at the age of four in Sapporo, Japan. At the age of 14 she left home to study with the San Francisco Ballet school, soon after receiving her first professional dance contract.

Yumiko Takeshima 7
(photo credit to Dance Pulp)

In 1993, Yumiko Takeshima moved to Holland from New York City, to join the Dutch National Ballet.  While there she came up with her own leotard design that got the attention of her dance colleagues.  She began making leotards and other dance wear for her friends, but over the years by word of mouth she began to receive increasing requests.  With the help of her husband, she made her clothing line a real production business, continuing to develop her passion for designing dance wear and costumes.

Yumiko Takeshima 1
(photo credit to Dance Pulp)

Since 2002, Takeshima has developed her made-to-order line, as well as a ready-to-wear line, of high quality, great fitting, and beautifully designed dance and fitness wear for women and men. In addition, since moving to Amsterdam, Netherlands, Takeshima has designed costumes for numerous choreographers, most notably David Dawson and William Forsythe and has been praised in the press not only as a dancer, but also for designing some of the most elegant, simple, and esthetically beautiful dance costumes in the European dance world.

Yumiko recently received notable publicity for having three limited release pieces worn in the feature psychological thriller “The Black Swan” (the Daniela, Tamara, and Wendy).  Yumiko was chosen because the brand is considered one of the best by dancers, her pieces often referred to as “Yumis”.

Yumiko is rather humble about herself: “I still have trouble drawing.  I’m not very good at it.  It takes me about one hour to draw one design.  And I also never studied how to sew or anything about fashion.  I’m just going by sense, if I have some!”  She never thought she would start a dance wear clothing business, only sewing for friends for about 10 years, but gradually spread out before she knew it.  This reminds me a little of Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, who didn’t have any academic or professional knowledge about fashion, but started her immensely successful business with just an idea that she had passion for.

DancePulp recently featured an interview with Yumiko, that you may be interested in seeing: Yumiko Interview.

At present, Yumiko offers 3 main clothing categories for women: dancewear, top & bottoms, and skirts.  Within dance wear, they offer 34 styles of leotards and some with a unitard option. Clicking on any of the listed products brings up a highly detailed page for customizing the item and placing an order.  See “Jessica” for example detail

Yumiko started out designing leotards for women exclusively.  As her brand became much more well known, male dancers began requesting a men’s line.  Because men’s tights are typically made of the same thicker Lycra/nylon material, it was only natural for Yumiko to offer them, in addition to several leotards, tops, and bottoms.  I hope to review a Yumiko piece at some future date.  See “Tibo” for example detail; “Felipe” tights details.

But what sets Yumiko apart from other dance wear makers is their on-line custom options for your selected apparel.  With most pieces, you have many choices for color (see example color chart, for a small subset) not only for the primary and secondary parts of a garment, but the trim as well where applicable (even different colors for various trim parts).  Materials are offered in a choice of nylon [thin and shiny, slick touch] , techni [feels like the nylon, but matte with tighter weave], and microfiber [soft, almost plush to touch].  All are comprised of 87% polyester and 13% elastane. There is also thoughtful attention to seams, which are extremely durable, flat, and minimized for comfort.  In any active wear, the fewer the seams the better and Yumiko excels at this.  In addition to ordering on-line, you can also visit Yumiko stores located in the USA, South Korea, and Japan. Their customer service is highly reputable.

Yumiko is still dancing and also stays closely involved with her business.  She is always introducing new styles every year.  To keep abreast of what’s new at Yumiko, it’s best to follow the company on Facebook.  Alicia Fecto is the U.S./International YumiGirl Liaison.

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