On one of my many visits to Japan, I met up with a friend from elementary school days. I have known her since we were about 6 years old. She has grown into a gorgeous stylish lady and I am always intrigued by her fashion sense. I asked her about the clothes she was wearing which were very striking and unique, and she mentioned that her friend is a fashion designer and makes beautiful clothing made from vintage kimono and yukata (summer kimono) material. I was fascinated and started looking into her friends designs which I absolutely fell in love with, so asked her to introduce me to Goto Asato.
Here is my interview with Asato.
Q: Please give us some background on yourself and how you got into fashion design.
I have always loved clothes growing up, hated dressing in uniforms in middle school in Japan. I always felt the need to wear something that was relevant to my identity or my ever-changing moods. I remember every piece of clothing I wore growing up. The hand-knitted sweaters from my grandmother, designer children's clothes of the 80s, the cuts of the shoulders, the details and the way they felt – all became the key to the answers I seek when I execute my designs today.
By the time I was 10, I became curious about designers like Kenzo, whose design sketches my mother brought home from one of the fashion shows she was invited to as a magazine editor. My mother as an 80s 'career woman' was a strong influence in my sense of fashion, as I would see her putting on her luxury fashion items as if to put on an armor to go out to war. In the 80s Japan, a women's place in the work force was not what it is today, and it seemed like she had to wear sexy but "strong" clothes to stand up to the Japanese business men she worked alongside. She showed me the power of clothes and how it could enrich her presence and the way she interacted with the world.
I was 15 when I left Japan and was given the opportunity to experience the western world. My mother and I travelled all over America and Canada, looking for a new place to live. I learned a lot about diversity of the world at this period in my life. From town to town we travelled and saw all different skin types of American people, Canadian people, first nation people, Indian people, living as they liked in various climates, as we drove from the deserts of Arizona to the snowy parts of Canada. I remember how inspired I was when I went to high school in Canada and met an Indian girl who was raised in Canada. She would take me to her home after school where I met her sisters and brothers, mother and father, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and about a hundred cousins, all dressed in colorful traditional Indian clothes. The sisters would dress me in their spare dresses with matching head wraps and at night, I would visit the Sikh temple with them, where I saw more Indian faces, dressed in beautiful gowns and turbans. In the morning, I would wake up to find the grandfather wrapping his turban around his silver hair. All of this experience and people I interacted with as a teenager became the elements which now make up the DNA of Goto Asato.
Q: Can you explain to me the concept behind your clothing?
The celebration of diversity, originality, and individuality.
The materials I use for my clothes come from the old Japan, but the clothes travel the world to meet diverse cultures and people, to interact, learn and change. My spirit travels with the clothes, making my world wider, deeper and richer.
I believe in the beauty that lives within a person’s inner world, and the way somebody shines from the inside. Style is something that interests me, because it is inspired by the fashion of the time, but something that does not change easily by external influences. I feel that the freedom to live by one’s “style” of clothing, life, and way to be, is the key to true happiness and deep spiritual satisfaction.
Q: How do you choose & where do you get the beautiful materials that you use?
The materials come from old Japanese textile makers and homes. They come in the form of a kimono, kimono coat, undergarment, a roll of “araihari (deconstructed and washed)”, or unused material. I pick up the materials that may be ancient, some from pre-war Japan, and always select the ones that give me a vision of the future. It is an exercise to connect the past with the future, and create a relevant piece for now.
Q: What trends do you currently see in the fashion industry?
Easy to wear and relaxed. Gender-less. More and more importance in material quality, as a reaction to fast fashion and the desire to wear something that feels good from the inside.
For the moment I am concentrating on her scarfs made from vintage yukata, but in future I hope to also supply her gorgeous silk outfits made from vintage kimono, stay tuned!
Shop at https://twolittlepiggies.ch