Tokyo, Japan. October 26th, 2020
Interviewed by Alexei Key
The Tokyo-based designer discusses his uniquely larger-than-life approach to dressmaking through his independent label. Among his inspirations: color, kimonos and traditional Kabuki theatre.
I would describe my brand as fun and over the top, unique and feminine. Most people think of the Japanese aesthetic as minimalism or a Zen style, but we have Kabuki and other “extra” styles in our traditional cultures. I love this side of Japan’s aesthetic, and I’m inspired by it.
My creative process depends on how I’m feeling. Recently I’ve been inspired by colors, and I choose them first before sketching on my iPad. Mostly the designs are made by me and my assistant. She knows how to make a Tomo Koizumi dress really well.
I believe I have evolved: Lately I’m being tougher with everything I’m experiencing, whether it’s talking with buyers or stylists and editors, or negotiating with brands about collaborations.
Not to have a commercial product is the biggest decision I’ve ever made, I think. A lot of buyers contacted me right after my first show, but I didn’t want to sell my pieces in stores. That was a tough decision for my career, but it made me both stronger and more optimistic.
And as an independent brand, that’s important. Not having a commercial line is key for me right now. I may focus on a more commercial side someday, but for now it’s not the right timing.
If I had to select one piece to represent my aesthetic, it would be the flower garden cape I created for the finals of the LVMH Prize. It works for every size and gender, and it best expresses the fun and joyous feeling, the optimism of my designs.
Tomo Koizumi by Tim Walker for LOVE.
I continue to be influenced by some great designers: Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Nicolas Ghesquière and Christopher Kane.
Working with great creative people around the world has influenced me the most. I’m super lucky to work with the best people in the fashion industry, even while I’m still based in Tokyo.
During the pandemic I started going to Kabuki theatre. I need to learn a lot more about Kabuki, but it’s really interesting. I’m also learning about kimonos now. During a visit to London I visited a kimono exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and it was so cool!
But the disruptions in fashion also have allowed a lot of brands to express their world with new media and techniques – I really enjoyed September’s digital fashion week for that reason. It seems so unique and fun.
I’m excited by anything that feels alternative. That’s how I hope younger generations will think of me as a designer.
Tomo Koizumi x Emilio Pucci
Tomo Koizumi Spring/Summer 2021