Misaki is a student at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. She’s currently in her second year at college. After I saw her picture on a website dedicated to Japanese Fashion, I contacted her through Twitter and very kindly Misaki accepted to tell me all about her life in Japan.
Picture taken from: tokyofashion.com
The fourteen-hour time zone difference meant a bit of trouble when exchanging messages to set up our call, but after a week we finally got to sit down and Skype. However, once we were ‘face to face’, communication became a bit of a problem. “Wait, wait,” she said slowly as she was looking to translate what I had just asked her. With a kind smile on her face, Misaki kept apologising, “Sorry, I’m not good at English.” It was early in the morning for her, but she was already dressed up. With a tartan blue blazer, she had her hair divided into two ponytails and a thick fringe covering all of her forehead. It looked like a small place, there was a rack full of clothes behind her, and on her left side there was a closet.
“I like Japanese kawaii. Do you know Japanese kawaii?” asked Misaki when I questioned her about why she chose fashion design as a career. Kawaii in Japanese means ‘cute’, and everything Misaki does, including an illustration she showed me, carries this style. She took a black leather jacket out of her closet that had taken her one month to make, and showed me the label: Sweet Misaki.
“I belong to the apparel design department,” she said. Bunka Fashion College in Japan has a very good worldwide reputation, so I was very surprised when Misaki told me that “students are friendly”. How would you describe studying at Bunka? “Ohmmm it’s very tired and busy but it’s very cool and interesting.” We kept struggling with the language barrier, but with a smile on her face she kept on trying to understand in any way possible. “Oh! School time? From 9 am to 6 pm”, after that there’s “many sewing and many drawings”.
She is on a three-year course, in which time she has done around ten garments per year, including swimwear, a hat, a jacket, kimono and a skirt. Misaki described her course as “fundamentally free”. In the first year of Bunka the items to be made are decided by the teachers, along with the materials and silhouettes. When you get to the second year only the materials and garment are decided for the students, and finally in the third year only the item is picked.
“The teachers are strict at times, but teach us very nicely!” she said. Boys make up a third of the people in her class and she mentioned in Bunka there’s “many unique people”. Was it hard to enter Bunka? “Entrance may be many people, 200”, she said while signalling the number with her hands just so I was sure I was getting it right. “Resign from school, many people.” Both of her classrooms only have 120 students now.
“Being a designer is not easy in my country,” Misaki kept repeating. Being “picky” as a designer might affect your chances of getting a job. “If you do not choose the company or type of occupation, then you can get a job. However, if it doesn’t apply to your taste or you do not come to an understanding with the company, then it may be difficult,” she explained. Wanting to work for a specific company with little experience might be hard. “But my goal is to make my brand”, said Misaki.
When I asked her whether being a fashion designer was a respected profession in Japan, she answered that fashion design is made to be thrown away. “Because Japanese fashion is fast fashion.” Misaki is referring to the fast retailing that has been growing in Japan; new stores such as Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21 have been appearing on the streets and are highly frequented.
In Japan there is a particular fashion style in almost every city, and Tokyo on it’s own has so many different tribes that they have caught the world’s attention. These include ‘Shibuya’ girls, who are tanned women with short skirts, or the very popular Lolita fashion, which has been inspired by Rococo and Victorian styles. If you walk around the city you will find the most impressively dressed people, highly accessorized, and with many different hair colours.
|Garment made by Misaki|
Courtesy of Sweet Misaki
Women wearing kimonos can also be found around Tokyo, living proof that in Japan, long-standing traditions co-exist with contemporary fashion. Misaki owns around ten kimonos; “I wear kimono on celebration occasion.” Then she explained that the kimono varies in colour and fabric according to the season. I asked her if she feels there are limitations in terms of fashion. “No, no, no”, answered Misaki. “Japanese people are conservative but there are many individual people, including me. Not all the members are conservative.”
Japan’s ever-changing fashion scene has become such a great source of inspiration that trend-hunters are often sent there to look out for the latest new look. “Lolita fashion, anime, the kimono, Kabuki” are just a few elements that make Japan very interesting in terms of culture and tradition for Misaki. “I don’t only focus on garments, but also in the subtleties of Japan. I like that attitude of doing things with dedication.”
By the end of our conversation she asked how to pronounce my name. Then she smiled at me kindly and said goodbye by leaning her head and putting her hands together. “I’m very happy to talk with you”, she said.
Check out Misaki's style at: http://tokyofashion.com/bunka-fashion-student-pretty-in-pink-x-sweet-misaki-accessories/
A couple of days later I asked Misaki to answer some questions in Japanese so she could explain in a broader way certain topics, and I’d like to thank Maya Renee Talley and Marimar Gomez Villalon for their help translating.
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Fashion in Japan: Sweet Misaki is licensed under a Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 3.0 Unported License.
Creado a partir de la obra en fashion-aroundtheworld.blogspot.mx.