ARLINGTON, Va. — Junko Yoshioka is no stranger to giving advice to students. Before designing bridal and eveningwear, Yoshioka taught design theory, color history and patternmaking in Japan and draping at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
“I want them to forget fear,” Yoshioka said, mulling over what she’d say to students upon receiving the 2011 Designer of the Year award from Marymount University at the school’s annual “Portfolio in Motion” student fashion show here. “A young designer thinks he can be a designer in one year. But it’s hard, and it’s better to be experienced in many things — construction, fabrication and patternmaking — that’s how you can be successful.”
Yoshioka wore many hats during the early days running her New York-based business about eight years ago, she said. Whether it was having a hand in the cutting process, merchandising or working with production, “you need a flexible brain,” she said. “It’s all collaboration. We are all cogs in a machine.”
The machine appears to be working well. In 2010, sales at the privately held company increased significantly, according to chief operating officer David Gomez Pearlberg. Bridal gowns, most priced between $3,500 and $5,500 retail, are now featured in 35 doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier. The company plans to ship to Neiman Marcus this spring and has established distribution in Hong Kong and retail accounts in Australia and Japan.
Yoshioka, who was once a ready-to-wear designer in Italy, would one day like to add casual dresses at “more reasonable price points” to her collections, as well as handbags, jewelry, fragrance, children’s wear and home.