The Florentine is publishing this series of interviews on the occasion of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out on September 17, 2015.
Yojiro Kake is a young Japanese fashion designer based in Florence who is blossoming through his recent collections for mens- and womenswear. He was born in Hyogo in 1983 and soon after finishing high school he began his fashion studies at the Ueda Yasuko School of Fashion in Osaka. After graduating, he worked within a private company as a pattern maker and designer, but soon realized the need to return to study fashion to rediscover and establish his own ideas, beliefs and creativity. He left the company and made the life-changing decision to study at Polimoda in Florence, before launching his own eponymous label in 2012. I visited with Kake’s fashion partner Oka HuiYun Lin to learn more about their brand and vision:
Paige Roseman: How did Kake end up deciding to come to Florence to be a fashion designer after having being raised in Japan?
Oka HuiYun Lin: Kake enjoyed fashion early on, but while living in Japan he experienced much more of the ‘business’ side of the industry. He had to focus more on profits rather than expressing his own emotions through his work. He saw Florence as a chance to break away from simply making money. With this purpose in mind, he hoped to become more successful in fashion by attending Polimoda. He believes Florence is a powerful step in making connections with other successful and driven people who can assist him in getting his own ideas and emotions out to the world.
PR: Do you believe that Florence is one of the world’s fashion capitals? Why or why not?
OHL: Although Florence is a beautiful city I do not view it as a fashion capital of the world. When I think of Florence, I think of many other aspects before fashion. Florence is well known for its Renaissance architecture portrayed through the many monuments and churches. When someone mentions a ‘fashion capital’ I think of Paris but not Florence. I do think that Florence is a great city to study and progress within the fashion world, though.
PR: How does working together as a team in the fashion world play a role for both of you in the final outcome and design of each style?
OHL: Fashion can be such an opinionated concept, in which each individual is given the opportunity to have his or her own perspective on what is considered to be fashionable. When it comes to working specifically with Kake, our ideas normally contrast with one another, but it ends up coming together in the end with a unique and powerful final result.
PR: Do you have a target audience in mind when you design your clothing?
OHL: We like to design clothing aimed for young women in today’s culture. When picking out the colors for our clothing we often think of women that have strong emotions and want to express themselves through their attire. Many of our clothing pieces that I have preferred use vibrant colors such as pink, teal and lime green. The designs vary but some of them include polka dots and floral patterns. On the other hand, Kake normally incorporates more dark colors like grey, black and brown. In some previous collections, such as Rain in Eclipse, the pieces were made for specific themes, like rainy days.
PR: How do your personalities shine through in your work and designs?
OHL: Kake is a very sensitive individual with softer emotions, while I can be loud and aggressive, if I may say so about myself! Sometimes he designs something soft, but I review it and tell him to add a bit more dark character. Together we create pieces of clothing that I believe complement each other well. People say ‘opposites attract,’ and I do believe that is true when it comes to our designs.
PR: Do you have future plans for upcoming designs and collections?
OHL: Right now we do not have an established plan set out, although we know we want to continue expressing ourselves through the designs. Fashion is a powerful, amazing way to get emotions and views out to the world. Together we will do that.
About Fashion in Florence
In May-June 2015 ISI (International Studies Institute of Florence) offered an innovative class in Fashion Communication for non-specialized students in design. Emphasis was on analysis of leading fashion media critics, commentators, bloggers and influencers. Students had the opportunity to visit one day of Pitti Uomo #88 at the Fortezza da Basso and write their reports and blogs including one-on-one interviews with leading young figures in Fashion in Florence. Professor Emeritus Mark Bernheim headed the team, which included fashion commentator and assistant Alessandro Masetti, and his colleagues. The Institute plans to offer this course again in 2016.