Art director

Former Esprit artistic director makes massive donation to famous brand’s archives


Created by visual designer Michelle Koza, Esprit Flashback is the world’s largest archive of 1980s Esprit items. Accumulated for over 30 years, the collection carefully preserves everything about one of the most iconic fashion brands of this decade. You can even browse the archives online by going to its Instagram page.

Tamotsu Yagi’s latest donation includes eclectic and rare items ranging from the Esprit Graphic Work 1984-1986 book, as well as the Esprit 25th Anniversary catalog. The packaging labels for food made in the Esprit cafe and samples of popular shoeboxes that featured prominently as part of visual in-store merchandising are also the big batch.



Besides the content of the gift, the man behind the merchandise makes this contribution important. Tamotsu was appointed artistic director of Esprit in 1984 and was in charge of the visual presentation of the brand. He is credited with creating the iconic ‘Esprit Graphic Look’, which helped the company win the AIGA Design Leadership Award in 1986, and in 1990 he became one of the youngest members. of the International Graphic Alliance.

Speaking of his decision to hand over the Wealth of Work, which also includes branded letterheads, calendars and party invitations, Tamotsu quotes a renowned American businessman and environmentalist: “Douglas Tompkins believed in preservation and the power of print in its ability to convey ideas. worth sharing, “he reveals.” As I peruse my own archives of graphic material from the ESPRIT era, I remember this message and wish to pass these artifacts on to generations to come. “




These items will join Esprit clothing and accessories, including flagship collections from the 1980s such as Memphis Collection / Fall 1986 and Joel Resnicoff Collection / Summer 1986. Nor is Tamotsu the first big name in Esprit to donate. to the archives. Former employees including Cool Hunting co-founder Evan Orensten and textile designer Cathy Callahan contributed, as well as brand loyalists who sent in items from their personal wardrobes.

But for Michelle Koza, founder of Esprit Flashback, this gift is something special and personal. “Mr. Yagi and his work inspired me to study graphic design, and after graduating from design school, I had the opportunity to meet him. », She explains. “It’s like a moment to come full circle to receive this generous gift from Mr. Yagi, and I am delighted! These articles will go a long way in helping to paint a complete picture of what the Esprit brand was and stood for in the 1980s.

“I collected Esprit clothing for years before officially starting the archives in 2017, when a friend passed away and left me his collection of 1,800 artifacts,” she adds. “Building the archive has been a labor of love, and over the past year and a half of disturbing news from all over the world, it has also been a happy blast from better times past and funny memories of my awkward teenage youth. “