Cover Fashion designer Yasuko Furuta walks the runway at the Toga Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 fashion show during London Fashion Week on February 15, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Yasuko Furuta of Japanese fashion label Toga just presented the brand’s fall/winter 2022 collection to great acclaim at London and Tokyo Fashion Weeks. This year, she celebrates her 25th anniversary as a designer. Here, she tells Tatler about her inspirations and reflects on her journey

Yasuko Furuta just wrapped up a victorious in-person show at Rakuten Fashion Week Tokyo (March 14–19), where her fashion label Toga presented its fall/winter 2022 collection.

The show in Tokyo came hot on the heels of a digital presentation of the same collection at London Fashion Week in February, and was warmly received by its home crowd. 

Toga’s signature east-meets-west aesthetic stood front and centre, as did its use of embellishments and a mix of fabrics. The brand is known for its hybrid aesthetic and use of a variety of materials in its pieces—and the silks, sequins, feathers and faux fur in the collection wowed critics. The cutting of the pieces, while always refined, also offer a playful feel on textures and silhouettes.

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This was, of course, not the Japanese designer’s first rodeo: she just celebrated her 25th anniversary as a designer. Toga was founded in 1997 and has a well-established presence in the Japanese fashion scene. It is most notably one of the few modern Japanese fashion labels that steers away from streetwear. 

Furuta was born in the southcentral Japanese prefecture of Gifu and studied in Tokyo and Paris. She made her Paris Fashion Week debut in 2005. She is also a recipient of the 2003 Mainichi Design Prize and 2007 Andam Award. The former is one of Japan’s most prestigious annual design awards, while the latter is co-awarded by the French Ministry of Culture and considered the gold standard for young design professionals making headway in their industries.

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What’s different about the new collection compared to your other ones? 

For the past couple of seasons, we had been applying cutout techniques to tailored suits, and giving a new perspective to [what] “‘traditional” [means]. 

This season, I wanted to incorporate the actions of bouncing, swinging, roundness and hopping to the mix as well, because I wanted to create a sense of optimism.

What is the highlight piece of this collection?

There is a dress made by splitting a tailored jacket into two and reconstructing it with stretch material. I just like how this dress is composed of different materials.

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What was challenging about presenting your collections digitally prior to this show?

For the past four seasons, we had been sending our collections over to artists in the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, for the pieces to be filmed for digital presentations.

While this allowed for a wider perspective on ways to present the collections, and [for us] to enjoy the results that come from working remotely, we felt it was difficult to convey a sense of realness. During this time, I felt the desire to physically present this collection here in Tokyo.

Where do you find inspiration—especially in the famous hybrid aesthetic seen in your work?

The world is composed of opposites. I want to make clothes that do not always represent beauty and happiness. Perhaps it is because I am looking for a new perspective that appears when two opposites meet.

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You’re celebrating your 25th year with Toga. How have you and the brand evolved?

I started out alone, then Toga became a team of three, and now I’m working together with a team of more than 50. We’re still working together to carefully and thoughtfully create to the best of our ability.
Going forward, we plan to continue doing the same—to make carefully considered things without taking any shortcuts.

You’ve spent time in your native Gifu, as well as Tokyo and Paris. How have these experiences shaped you as a person?

I believe we subconsciously absorb the things we see and the things we feel in our everyday lives. I think it plays a role in shaping the standards we hold as an individual.

At seven years old, being surrounded by the vast nature of Gifu—a land so far away from fashion–I obsessively flipped through magazines aspiring to become a designer.

In Tokyo, surrounded by exciting friends, I learnt the basics of clothes.

And in the beautiful city of Paris, I explored my identity as an individual while struggling with, and also enjoying, cultural differences. I became self-aware of what it meant to be Japanese, and what it meant to be Asian. It allowed me to feel and experience the cultural differences firsthand had a significant influence on me.

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