Fashion Forté

Japanese Designers Preen on Catwalk

The in influence of Japanese fashion is omnipresent. Iconic fashion designers such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent have found inspiration in Japanese prints and designs, and the kimono has formed the basis of countless garments. Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto are just three celebrated Japanese designers who have made their mark on runways worldwide.

This year’s Vancouver Fashion Week showcased a talented group of seven designers from Japan who are making a splash in Canada. Each is ample testament to the strength of the fashion business in Japan.

Yutaka Nishikawa, general manager and director of Vancouver Fashion Week for Spring Summer fashion season 2018, recognizes the importance and impact of Japanese fashion. She is careful to communicate closely with participating Japanese designers to understand how they want to grow their brand.

“Japanese fashion designers are remarkable and important in the fashion industry as they maintain Japanese traditions but also incorporate technology into fashion,” she said.

Japan and Canada share many similarities in values and Nishikawa believes this extends to the world of fashion. “I realized that both the Canadians and Japanese care very much about quality. Japanese designers often tell me how impressed they are after seeing Canadian organic and eco fashion.”

Taking part in and introducing designs at large shows can be a major ordeal for new designers. There are some particularly challenging aspects to overcome, especially in overseas markets.

Japanese fashion designers are remarkable and important in the fashion industry as they maintain Japanese traditions.

“Language can be a challenge, as most of the Japanese designers do not speak fluent English. But I found out that it is not only about language, but lack of marketing and communication skills,” Nishikawa explained.

Compared with designers from North America, she said many Japanese designers are not as active and are hesitant about presenting themselves to the public.

“At something like Vancouver Fashion Week, a lot of international press come and ask the designers millions of questions to get to know more about their collection, Japanese culture and design, history, their vision, and their future and so on. [The Japanese] do not know how to talk about their brand and, even though they have an amazing story to tell, they often miscommunicate with the press,” she explained.

“I’m Japanese, so I understand Japanese culture and history. It was very natural and easy for me to support them and give them some tips on how to deal with North American clients.

“This is why I am here, helping them to develop their marketing skills and helping them to stand up in the international market.”

Nishikawa says she sees a big change and a lot of growth in many designers after they attend the show. Seven Japanese designers showed their colours at Vancouver Fashion Week. The Canadian asked each designer about their designs, brand, and their hopes for the future.

Fiction Tokyo

I was inspired by Harujuku fashion and styles like the Lolita look and how Kyary Pamyu Pamyu dresses. Harajuku is a place where people have unique personalities, and love fashion. I used to model for Harajuku’s fashion magazines, and that is where I learned to sell myself and establish an identity. I need to work on branding, and fashion shows such as Vancouver Fashion Week provide the opportunity to do that. I also need to create clothes that can be worn at any time. The show has encouraged me to look overseas and design for audiences in both Japan and abroad.


My clothes are inspired by traditional Japanese designs and are a reflection of my heritage. I created this collection to send a message about our past, present and future. Historic fashion trends impress me and I expressed this in my designs.

I am honoured to have been able to showcase Japanese clothing technology, fabrics, and designs to an international audience. Through this collection I want people to: feel with all five senses; wear art; feel art; live with art; and merge life and fashion.

I now want to focus on improving my designs and creative skills before I go on to the next city.

Minori Isomichi

I am from Osaka, Japan, and I have loved the kimono and Japanese traditional clothing since I was a kid. I want everyone in the world to know the beauty of the kimono.

Increasingly, people in Japan are no longer wearing kimonos. To break the traditional image of the kimono, which is hard to wear, I made the styling casual and cute, in keeping with popular culture.

I want to continue making clothes using the kimono and different Japanese fabrics. In this way I can help the kimono become part of contemporary clothing.

Mouton Blanc
by Hakuyo Miya

When I discovered my interest in fashion, there were many Japanese fashion brands already active internationally, such as COMME des GARÇONS, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake. Naturally, this influenced my designs.

At Vancouver Fashion Week I met new people, saw new designs and really felt the spirit of fashion. My main concern was whether what I wanted to express was received well and understood.

Through my brand and my activities, I want to change the situation in the fashion industry, where developing countries are exploited for cheap labour to make cheap clothes.

Nozomi Kuwahara

This is my first season and Vancouver Fashion Week was my first runway experience. I learned a lot.

I want to see more people wearing my clothes on the street, and see them on social media. To this end, I will continue working on my next collection and try to make it more fun.

Noir Etoffe

My influences come from punk and high-street designer brands. My designs often depend on the way I see the places I often go. I find inspiration in the colour of the scenery, which changes depending on the weather and the seasons.

This was my first fashion show and I showcased 12 looks. I made each one different, so the audience could find their favourite items.

I hope to continue to improve my skills in the next two years, and to participate in the Tokyo collection and hold exhibitions to increase awareness of the brand noir etoffe.


I loved dancing when I was a child, and starting my own leotard brand has always been a dream of mine.

These leotards make you feel and look more elegant, making your everyday lessons more special. In order to make them more comfortable and beautiful in shape, we changed the leotard over and over to create what we have now.

I would like access to the Canadian dance market, so that I can show Canada the excellence and quality of my brand.

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