By  on January 25, 2005

TOKYO — Young designers in Japan are enjoying the consumers’ experimental mood. There were a total of 150 independent designers, about four times as many as last season, at the Creators Village section of the International Fashion Fair at Tokyo Big Sight from Jan. 12-14. Japanese shoppers are looking for something new and unique, and designers who are true to their creations are considered “cool.” Here, a look at some of the designers attracting the attention of Japanese retailers.


“My painting is not a sort of Japanese style. But the more unexpected my works are, the more consumers get excited,” said 29-year-old designer Masafumi Okada, whose original painted sneakers and superdistressed denims are strong looks at his brand Masafumi Create World. Okada offers the perfect marriage of fashion and the art of drip painting, which he does for all of MCW’s designs. Painted low-cut sneakers wholesale for 9,240 yen, or $90.60 at current exchange. A winner of various prizes when he was attending Nagoya Fashion College, Okada has been in fashion for about 10 years, and now sells to about 15 stores and wholesalers worldwide. “The other day I traveled to Australia and found many people overseas also liked my style of getting out of common sense. There are some rules in designing clothes, and people like the style that breaks those rules. That’s my style,” he said.


“God is in the details” is not only for architect Mies van der Rohe. Kunihiko Morinaga also believes in the spirits staying in his delicate works. “My design theme is demolishing ordinary lives,” said Morinaga. “And detailed work is my style. I want to reexamine ordinary lives by having a very close eye on details,” said the designer of the two-year-old label Anrealage, a double meaning that combines “a real age” and “unreal age.” Unique merchandise includes a pair of pants that changes shape by unzipping the fastener at the inside of the thigh,  which retails for 35,000 yen, or $343.13, and a “chaos” jacket made of torn fabric, which retails for 155,400 yen, or $1,523.52. The 24-year-old designer joined Tokyo Collection after he graduated from Waseda University, one of the top  Japanese universities, and from the Vantan Design Institute. So far, Morinaga has shown at about 10 exhibitions and “now buyers understand my style and convey it to consumers, which is necessary, especially when the designer’s business is not big, like what I am now,” he said. Anrealage sells to about 20 doors throughout Japan.Maalaila

“Maalaila” in Arabic means “I become to like it” in English, according to Aya Koyama, the collection’s designer.  “Women want garments with a subtle twist in their daily lives,” Koyama explained. “At a party, every girl wants to look fashionable, but no girl wants to look ridiculous in a flamboyant dress. They should put their good fashion sense in details,” said the 30-year-old designer. Unique buttons, jacquards and knits are used in Koyama’s garments. For the brand, Koyama picked up Morocco as a design theme. “I want to express the profound sense of ennui by selecting the country where different cultures meet,” said Koyama, whose grandmother taught her the fun of sewing. A blouse of transparent fabric with floral patterns and knit shoulder straps sells for 16,800 yen, or $164.70, while a skirt sells for 18,000 yen, or $176.47.

Warp & Woof

The industry’s obsession with color variation never made sense to Tetsuya Kaigai, designer of Warp & Woof, who creates a world of pink. “All of my garments are explainable by words such as ‘cute’ and ‘beautiful,’ which is very important when you communicate with consumers through your merchandise,” said Kaigai. The 41-year-old designer worked for fashion firms for years as a designer, pattern maker and merchandiser, then in 2001 established his own label. “I want to do only what I like. All the works are done by my own hands. I want to make clothes not for too broad a range of customers, but for customers whom I can communicate with through my clothes,” said Kaigai. A blouse sells for 23,000 yen, or $225.49, while skirts retail for about 25,000 yen, or $245.10.

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