- Meg Hoffmann
Interview: Fabricating the next generation of genderless fashion
I mean this, this is a girl that was gifted with the Midas touch;
everything she creates is gold.
Back in November I took a trip to Tokyo to attend some meetings and being the broke university student that I am, I asked my friend if I could stay with her.
During the one week that I spent with her, we drank tea and sat on the floor of her one-room apartment located just outside of Tokyo while she cut up pieces of fabric and I responded to work emails.
I watched her cut up pieces of fabric while we talked about being confused and suffocated by this immense passion to create, just keep on creating.
Like many other students in university our plans were disrupted by the ongoing pandemic, and we found ourselves talking about being lost and confused, about being stuck with nothing but our hopes and aspirations during these lonely and isolating times. Around the same time I was in Tokyo, I was thinking about starting blossom the media, and I wanted Haruka to be the first person I interviewed. She’s always been an inspiration to me and her story is worth being told.
Haruka is a textile design student at Tama Art University in Tokyo. I’ve known her for almost eight years now and she’s always been one of my closest friends in Japan. During this trip I got to see how she lives her life as a student, but Haruka is more than just a fashion student. She’s a designer, an innovator, and most importantly she’s a game changer in the fashion industry.
Haruka was born in Osaka, Japan but moved to Canada when she was just five months old. She lived in Canada and the US for 12 years before moving back to Japan. During the time she lived in Indiana, she was one of the only Asians living in a predominantly white town. Being a minority, she tried her best to blend in by wearing Abercrombie and sipping Starbucks while wearing her brand new UGGs.
For a long time she lost a sense of her own identity as she let herself become invisible.
It wasn’t until she moved back to Japan and attended international school that she felt she could embrace her own individuality.
Haruka’s passion for design and fashion sparked in high school when she wrote a paper about women’s social advancement in Japan. As she was writing her paper she began to question what she herself could do to contribute towards women empowerment. She’s always been a talented creator and artist, and she soon realized that she could use these tools. The clothing that you wear is more than just a fashion statement. It’s an embodiment of who you are, your values, your artistic expressions, and much more. The narrative around fashion is still largely divided based on your gender, but Haruka wants to challenge these stereotypes because female empowerment stems from gender equality and vice versa.
Who’s a designer that speaks to you and why?
It was Christmas 2019 when Haruka stepped into a Gucci store with her father. She was looking at card cases when her father pointed out that the items they were looking at were too masculine. A staff member was quick to correct him by stating that at their store, their items were not separated based on gender. All items could be enjoyed by all genders.
“Alessandro Michele is normalizing gender neutral fashion” Haruka told me. “That’s just how he sees the world.”
Her trip to the Gucci store with her father was a reminder that there was still much work to be done in terms of normalizing gender neutral fashion, especially for the older generations where people tend to maintain conservative viewpoints.
What’s something you keep in mind when working on your projects?
“I always have a specific goal in mind with whatever I choose to create. Everything I create addresses topics relating to gender, and I’m always experimenting. I ask myself how I can use certain fabrics and textiles to convey ideas of gender and normalize gender less fashion.
Something I’ve noticed since majoring in Textile Design is that, when you’re first presented with a piece of blank fabric, there are no genders or stereotypes attached to it. Once we choose to attach masculinity or femininity to a piece of cloth, that’s when these boundaries based on gender are born. I want to experiment more with different fabrics, designs, textures, and create a new form of fashion without gender boundaries.”
"I want to create a new form of fashion without gender boundaries"
Bonus question! What’s a song you want people to listen to when they’re looking at your work?
“Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People because it makes you feel powerful and want to get out of your comfort zone!”
Get in touch with Haruka
instagram: @harukashono @shonocollection
Written and translated by Meg NH
Edited by Mutsumi Ogaki
Photography by Meg NH