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6 Most Influential Female Fashion Designers From Japan 2021

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Most influential female fashion designers from Japan are still keeping their work alive! Read further to know who they are!

Contrary to popular opinion, Japan fashion is more than just the Lolita trend and the most influential female fashion designers from Japan have proved it right!

Who are the most influential female fashion designers from Japan?

The most influential female fashion designers from Japan are:

  • Hanae Mori
  • Yumi Katsura
  • Rei Kawakubo
  • Michiko Koshino 
  • Chisato Tsumori
  • Tae Ashida

 Not only has it set global standards for the rest of the world to benchmark, but it has also developed certain innovative techniques in fashion along with producing a thriving platform for new, out-of-the-box minded designers to take Japanese fashion to newer standards.

Honestly, the best part about Japanese fashion is its ability to make it to the streets. None of it is fast fashion, but what makes it to the runway also makes its way into some wardrobes. Some of the fashion designers brands are really cool.

The Japanese crowd is enthusiastic about upping their fashion sense constantly. Maybe that’s why they never go out of style. Fashion culture in Japan is quite ahead and fast fashion brands in Japan are moving it even further

Like anything else in the world, the realm of fashion is also dominated by men. In a country like Japan, where sexism is prevalent, where there is no effort to hide it, the success of women is rare.

Imagine the kind of determination it must have taken to have repeatedly thrashed every single roadblock in the way to get where these women are. Some of these fashion designers have been inspired by Japanese culture and adapted the same in their styles. 

I am talking about some of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan who have made space and name for themselves in the world.

Just for fun, I have listed these iconic designers according to their time and presence in the world of fashion who aren’t new Japanese designers but veterans in the industry. Let’s check out the most influential female fashion designers from Japan, below.

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Most Influential Female Fashion Designers From Japan

Hanae Mori (1926 – )

Source: Unsplash

Call it luck or call it hard work, maybe it was a little bit of both, but Hanae Mori, one of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan is struck gold because of her decision to open a boutique right opposite a movie theatre. 

A little bit more background — She was born and brought up in the coastal prefecture, a desolate Shimane after which she thought she had to find better opportunities and hopefully find a husband along the way. So she moved to Tokyo.

Once she got married, she realized there wasn’t much to do and the wifely duties hit her like a truck of boredom. But she enrolled herself into a dressmaking school to keep herself busy and the next thing you know, she had opened her first boutique in Tokyo by the 1950s.

Little did she know that the fortunate location of the boutique will be spotted by the movie director Sotojiro Kuromoto and she’ll be designing the costumes for his movies. That was the start of her real career.

Mori is now a globally recognized designer, awarded for her excellent collections. She’s one of the only two Japanese designers to ever have her designs walked on the New York and Paris runways.

She entered the world of haute couture after being inspired on a  visit to Coco Chanel’s boutique in the ‘60s. Her most distinguished style includes butterfly motifs on her garments. Her fashion designer dresses are so cool and fancy.

Few of her most popular works include designing costumes for the operas called Elektra and Madame Butterfly, in addition to also designing for the musicals Cinderella and Evita. Definitely, she is one of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan.

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Yumi Katsura (1932 – )

Fashion culture Japan
Source: yumikatsuracouture.com

If you’re thinking bridal wear (and well, if you have the money) look no further! Yumi Katsura is called the queen of bridal fashion for a reason.

Yumi is also one of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan who has been exposed to dressmaking since she was a child. She grew up watching her mother teach the students at the school and acquired the eye for details and the expertise she needed.

But it was only after she attended the  Kyoritsu Women’s University did she officially step foot into the world of fashion designing. 

Here she majored in Apparel Science Studies. She then moved on to Paris to study at the distinguished École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne where she learnt the art of haute couture.

That seemed to be a major stepping stone for her. In 1964, not only did she open her first bridal outfit store, but she also put on the first ever bridal show held in Japan.

 Soon after that, she published ‘The Bridal Book’, her everything you need to know about bridal fashion books. It was one of a kind in the Japanese market.

Her work is loved globally. In fact, some of the world’s largest and most eminent stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus bought her dresses to put them up in their stores.

Her name is so attached to bridal wear that the Yumi Katsura Bridal Museum was put forth in 1988 in Kobe. Lately, she has become the most influential female fashion designers from Japan.

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Rei Kawakubo (1942 – )

New japanese designers
Source: Unsplash

Rei Kawakubo, one of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan broke every stereotypical rule about what women’s clothing should be like. Call her revolutionary, because she launched a brand for girls, called Comme des Garcons which means ‘like boys”. 

Instead of just saying why should boys have all the fun, she showed it in her clothing line. She created comfortable fits that were oversized and asymmetrical and looked damn good on women. 

But of course, men liked it so much that after nine years of continuous groundbreaking Comme des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo launched Homme, a menswear line, incorporating the same elements for men as well.

This inspiration of her came from Coco Chanel who also believed in comfortable clothing for women to resemble that of men. Rei then moved on to Paris and put on a show with her first collection and also opened a boutique of her own in the same city.

All the revolutionizing — no heels, no miniskirts, no stilettos for women — all started when she began studying Fine Arts at the Keio University. 

She worked for some time under Asahi Kasei, who is also the most influential female fashion designers from Japan in textile design since years before she got out on her own.

Michiko Koshino (1943 – ) 

Fashion designers inspired by Japanese culture
Source: shop.michikokoshino.co.uk

Michiko Koshino’s designs are a love affair between the oriental style and western trends which makes her the most influential female fashion designers from Japan for a long time. They all say you should draw inspiration from what inspires you.

A significant part of her inspiration was from the music of the ‘80s and the ‘90s and that shows in her work.

Michiko and her two other siblings all are in the fashion world, where all the credit goes to being exposed to their mother’s fashion boutique and knowing what it takes to make it at a very young age.

Michiko studied at the Bunka Fashion University and then moved on to London where, because of her iconic style, she was popularly known as “Michiko London”. 

Michiko London is constantly changing the rules, in fact making her own rules by engaging with newer styles, incorporating new fabrics into her designs, Her work is deemed as futuristic, sustainable, and stylish all at the same time. She doesn’t skimp on anything.

Her main focus remains in creating clothes that are comfortable and sexy at the same time, trendy and young but can also be worn by the slightly older generation. 

Her education has played a huge role in her understanding of the craft of fashion, the impact of material used in the dress and influence on the commercial front. She definitely deserves a title of “most influential female fashion designers from Japan”.

Chisato Tsumori (1954 – ) 

Fashion designer dress
Source: tsumorichisato.co.jp

While she still made her own way into the fashion world, she might have gotten a small boat and reputation by being known as an apprentice for Issey Miyake renowned for her use of cutting edge technology in his clothing designs.

She worked as the lead designer on the sports line by Issey which she took the initiative of naming I.S. Chisato Tsumori Design and she is definitely one of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan.

Japanese fashion
Source: tsumorichisato.co.jp

Around 1990, she got out and paved her own path and focused on creating her own label. She launched her own line of handbags and colourful dresses that drew inspiration from modern art, Japanese culture and cats! Some of her merchandise is hand-painted. 

The same year she debuted her work at Tokyo Fashion Week which makes her amongst the most influential female fashion designers from Japan.

Some of Chisato’s famous works include her popular embroidery and beadwork on luxurious textiles.  She is one of the few designers to have won the very distinguished Mainichi Newspaper Award.

She was raised in Saitama from where she moved on to Tokyo to study at the Bunka Fashion University. After that the only direction she moved in was upwards. 

She travelled a lot and developed a liking for the French culture, so it was natural that she chose to open her first international store in Paris. 

It was the year 2003 when she put on her first show at the Paris Fashion week, and thus opened opportunities to expand to the US, Scandinavia, Russia and Italy.

Tae Ashida (1964 –)

japanese fashion designer brands
Source: Unsplash

Do not mistake her talent for nepotism as she is definitely the most influential female fashion designers from Japan for the youth. Granted she had backing, influence and training from Jun Ashida, her father, the iconic fashion designer, she has come a long way for herself.

She was born and raised in Tokyo where she went out to study Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. 

She gave her debut for being a designer at Miss Ashida. While currently working under Jun Ashida, she is being trained and groomed to take over the company.

Tae’s expertise lies in designing uniforms and structured clothing which make her one of the most influential female fashion designers from Japan. 

She has designed the uniforms for the female employees of the Tokyo Trust Bank and even for showmen at the Disney Resort in Tokyo.

Which is the most female fashion designer from Japan?

I’ve known and tried fashionable clothes from most of these designers and the most influential is Rei Kawakubo for her style, garment choice as well as her expertise.

Rei Kawakubo is a revolutionary designer who launched a brand for girls, called Comme des Garcons which means ‘like boys’. She also launched Homme, a menswear line, incorporating the same elements for men as well. She is based out in Paris and Japan. Rei has also written a book called Louis Vuitton City Bags: A Natural History. She is also amongst the top famous female designers around the world.

Fashion Fashionistas

These fashion designers from Japan are one of the reasons why Japan is extremely advanced in fashion, all thanks to the masters. 

I hope my article- Most influential female fashion designers from Japan helped you!

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