couture hat amsterdam

'Handmade' and 'Homemade'

Yuki Isshiki
Demure HR13.jpg

My teacher of hat-making (or millinery) is Prudence of Prudence Millinery, who has famously been making hats for Vivienne Westwood and other great brands as well as for her own. I strongly believe that she is the best in the world. While she is one of the sweetest person that I know, when it comes to making hats, she is uncompromising in her approach. I learned so much from her about couture work. There are so many words that she said that I still have close to my heart when working but I would like to share one of my favourite quotes from her.

During the class, she would often refer to something and say 'Um, this is 'home-made' rather than 'hand-made'. While Prudence finds the same amount of love in both 'home-made' and 'hand-made' things, as the best milliner in the world, she believes that the standards of techniques involved to produce 'hand=made' items are totally different from those employed to make something 'home-made'.

In order to be able to call a hat 'hand-made' or 'couture' instead of 'home-made', she taught us students very specific techniques many of which have been largely forgotten or ignored for commercial reasons. She also expected us to perfect the skills by taking time to do everything neatly. All the hand techniques were often complicated and hard to get it right. Every time we learned new stitches and new materials, it would take ages to make the most simple thing and I would often go home thinking 'Maybe I'm not good at this'. However Prudence would say 'Don't worry, don't rush. Speed will come with time. It is important that you learn the right skill to achieve the best aesthetic. You'd hate to see ugly sewing machine stitches on the brim of your hats, don't you!?  Take your time and never compromise on your standard. It makes your piece truly 'hand-made', not 'home-made'. I had to be patient and so did Prudence during my long training period.

Demure HR15.jpg

Craftsmanship has become a very popular concept and even pre-packaged biscuits sold at supermarket says it. I am actually not bitter about it at all because there is nothing wrong with the concept and we all have to say something nice to say to sell. However, I feel terribly sorry when I see people paying lots of money for something not-well-made because they are somehow tricke by the word 'craftsmanship'. Someone has somehow managed to blur the line between 'hand-made' and 'home-made'.

I'm sure it is still a little vague. If you are curious about difference between 'hand-made' and 'home-made', please come and visit my studio.  Once I tell you what to look at and why I do certain things certain way, the way you look at hats or any other products may change a bit. Then I hope that you will also realise that much more thoughts and care are put into your hats and what you pay is certainly invested into your hats, not into that vague 'brand experience' . OK, now this is also my excuse for not having a mahogany table and marble floor like a 'luxury shop' should do, which makes some of my business savvy friends freak out all the time!

Demure HR18.jpg

demure Skipper caps 'LBd'

Yuki Isshiki

Skipper caps are far the most popular items sold at demure. Amongst them, the ones which come in black/blue/beige are popular and all the names of these colours happen to start with 'b' so I call this selection of caps 'LBd' or "Little Black/Blue/Beige demure'.

It's been a few years since skipper caps became trendy and elsewhere you may have started seeing other styles are gathering popularity but here in Amsterdam I think skippers will stay to become one of the classics. Casual and active style perfectly fit Amsterdam lifestyle and these caps with peak and headband are perfectly made for windy weather and biking.


As far as LBd's are concerned, what make them popular is staying true to the classic while being unique in design. Also, I have taken practicalities and other things into consideration in making them.

1. Original patterns

The skipper caps that you may find elsewhere are in made using patterns and forms for original skippers caps which were meant to be for men and they in general have rather different facial features from women. I started drawing my patterns to address the difference. I have also developed several different patterns depending on which fabric I use or what customers are looking for. 'A skipper cap which can contain a bun of your hair on your bad hair day' is one example. With these patterns, proportions of different parts are well thought out (I have no idea how many times I repeated prototyping/drawing!) and I can of course make further adjustment according to customers' individual needs.

2. Fabric

I couldn't help but try the combination of rich tweeds, silk denim and other luxurious fabric with skipper shape. As a result, the caps can be worn for both casual and formal occasions and can be a part of lady-like look as well as more masculine style and my customers love them!

3. Other details

The band at the front, buttons and emblems are typical trim for skipper caps but minor difference in shapes and sizes of these things can even affect the way they enhance your facial features and i think I have been figuring out these secrets.....!

4. Sizing and the headband

The band which is underneath the main part of the cap often has hard plastic base and I hate it. It is not breathable at all and it often gives you headache. So I use cotton or linen canvas instead and that's why my caps are way more comfortable when you put them on.

5. Lining

Maybe this is a part which may not be seen but is a very important part because it touches your head directly. That's why I would love to use fabric made of natural fibres. And I would like them to be as luxurious as silk, vegan silk, cashmere/cotton mix, Cotton drill or Liberty Tana Lawn. Showing your style to the rest of the world is one thing, but I would like to add something that only YOU will know and enjoy. I think this leads to quiet confidence or 'demureness' by my definition.

These things are some of what make LBd's rather special. And because they are special, I would love you to wear them for a long time. To make it possible, I take much time to make them in the first place, and I would be more than happy to do the maintenance work such as changing the grosgrain ribbon in side the caps for free of charge. This way I can also keep in touch with my customers as they bring their beloved pieces back to me and it is always my utmost pleasure to hear them say 'Hey I wear this one all the time!'.



Yuki Isshiki

an introduction

Yuki on demure

My shop is in the centre of beautiful little Amsterdam, but not on a  shopping street so it’s never busy. I get to talk to my customers which  is kind of important as a hat maker, not least because it’s not easy to  choose a hat.

Most of the conversations with my customers start with ‘I  have a huge head’, which is most of the time NOT the case. ‘I never  look good in hat’, is also common, and is also most often UNTRUE. These comments come from lack  of knowledge on hats as accessories (which are there to make you look  and feel better) of maybe lack of confidence and I’m here to assist you  by making suggestions based on my professional knowledge or personal  experience, not based on my incentive to sell and make money (If I did  everything based on the last, it’s me who ends up with returned goods  covered in make up).

Because demure is a ‘hobby-for-life-turned-into-a-little-business’ kind  of shop, I truly enjoy the process of chatting for good hour or two about  what I make, how happy I was to find this rare fabric, how long it took  me to make all the details and why I think you look great in certain  shapes and colours. If you think about it, every colour and shape and  character should have at least one complimenting colour/shape/mood and  if you are refusing to believe it, it may actually come from somewhere  inside you. That I totally understand. I come from Japan, which happens  to be known to be a fashion capital amongst many other things but one  not-so-nice things is that there is this atmosphere that ‘You have to be  certain way if you belong to certain group’, which often causes  unnecessary sense of insecurity in vulnerable hearts.

I was not one of  the trendy kids, not mixing well, always on a chubby end (by insane  Japanese standard). So whenever I had to pick up any piece of garment  for myself, I had to pay so much attention to superdetails to ensure  that it does not look too horrible on me (everyone remembers this brutal  phrase ‘if you are skinny, everything looks nice on you’ and I was the complete opposite, so technically there was none/hardly anything which  would look good on me). This is not the happiest memory of my youth but  two nice things came out of it. One, I totally feel your tiniest  insecurity and I’m the last one to take advantage of it. Two, with all  the hard work of finding out exactly what can compliment a look in terms  of shapes and colours, I can address the tiniest details so you feel  ‘Ah, this works!’.

When I started this project, I wanted to call it ‘demure’ (in all small  letters please!) because to me, this is the status you can be in when  you are truly comfortable and confident. Like, ‘Yep, I’m cool, period.’  My grandmother was that person. In the 1980’s when all the wealthy old  ladies were clad in Versace and Leonard and said my nana was ‘modest’  (which translated ‘poor’) because she was wearing all the beiges and  greys, not even knowing brands such as Daks and Aquascutum or not being  familiar with concept of bespoke tailoring. Meanwhile my grandmother  would just let them gossip and stuck to her own style as she knew  everything about clothes after growing up in a family which traded in  kimono fabrics. My humble goal is to appreciate all my customers to decisions to give me  a chance and for sharing their wishes and make sure that they all feel  ‘demure’ when put on my pieces.

My most favourite moment is when I hear a  customer say ‘I wear this one all the time!’ When s/he brings back a  well-used piece for maintenance and repairs. Once I saw Yohji Yamamoto saying on a Japanese TV show ‘I never felt  that I lost to any other fashion designers but when I see a friend  grabbing his old tatty coat every winter as if he wouldn’t survive the  cold without it, I feel sheer sense of defeat’. I would love to make such a hat for you.

demure studio shop, Korte Marnixstraat 5, 1013 HT Amsterdam

demure studio shop, Korte Marnixstraat 5, 1013 HT Amsterdam