the story behind Bananatime

There is a story behind every brand. In our category ‘Behind the Brand’ the designers share their candid insight about their inspiration, the production process, and the people behind the brand. We sat down with Julia Mah and Naoyo Kawaguchi, the founders of BANANATIME.

What was the initial idea behind BANANATIME? How did it all begin in 2014?
It all started over drinks when we were on a shared holiday in Hawaii. We were talking about creating a versatile wardrobe that was perfect for travelling. Effortless dressing that is comfortable, while using best quality fabrics. We did not want luxury to be limited by occasion or gender.

How would you describe the aesthetic of BANANATIME?
Our aesthetic is built on the premise of versatility and every day luxury. Ageless and timeless, our collections are composed of easy and elegant styles combined with bold prints.

BANANATIME is known for mixing different prints and colour palettes. Where do you find inspiration for the fabric and colourful prints?
We mostly find inspiration in travelling. Being away from home gives us the opportunity to be curious, open, and observant. On our travels we love visiting vintage markets, museums and book stores. Nature is always fascinating and gives us a lot of new ideas as well.



“BANANATIME was initiated with the idea of effortless clothing that is comfortable, while using the best quality fabrics. We did not want luxury to be limited by occasion or gender."

How did you get into the world of fashion? Is it something you were always interested in?
When we were very young, our mothers used to make some of our clothes. Choosing the fabrics and then watching it transform into a garment you could wear, is a very warm memory of ours.

How does a day at the BANANATIME atelier in Amsterdam look like?
The day always begins with several cups of coffee. Then, depending on the time of the year, our day can vary from garment fittings, preparing for the next sales exhibition, or commenting on the next production.

What is your favourite part about being a designer?
The best part of designing is translating ideas and concepts into the actual prints and garments and being surprised by the outcomes.

Who is your ultimate style icon of all time?
I would say it is probably my grandmother. She did not buy a lot nor followed any trends, but she always bought good quality garments and looked after them well. She knew what looked good on her and wore it with confidence.

How do you want women to feel when they wear BANANATIME?
Elegant and confident, while being comfortable.


“My ultimate style icon? I would say it is probably my grandmother. She knew what looked good on her and wore it with confidence."


What is your favourite BANANATIME item at the moment?
The Max Shirt. If I could only take one garment on a trip, I would take my Max Shirt. It can be worn on any occasion, whether it is to the beach or a fancy dinner. It is also perfect for just relaxing, at home or in a hotel room.

What does BANANATIME contribute to sustainability?
We believe in making timeless, versatile products in combination with high quality fabrics. This combination results in a longer living product in your wardrobe, which - in the end – means that you consume less.

What Instagram account should we all follow?
We find museums very inspiring. Here are some to follow: @louisianamuseum @stedelijkmuseum @krollermullermuseum @museumvoorlinden @centrepompidou @guggenheim.

What is your greatest accomplishment with BANANATIME? What are you most proud of? 
It was a proud moment when we saw a girl walking down the streets of Tokyo wearing BANANATIME. It is a real pleasure to see someone wearing something you created.

What did you recently learn from having your own business? 
By having our own business, we realise the importance of taking a break; which is also our brand motto. We are still learning how to make this a habit!

Any future plans you would like to share with us? 
We will be launching a collaboration luxury travel kit this month. Ultimately, our vision is to continue building on creating an elegant and versatile wardrobe that you can wear on your trips.

Discover the BANANATIME collection at Pauw here