The American designer on New York Fashion Week,
bringing a boutique to the Big Apple and more
New Yorkers may not have a signature Tadashi Shoji boutique just yet, but they probably recognize the fashion designer’s highly feminine and flattering garments from any number of places. The first reference is television. As a sponsor of the Miss Universe Competition from 2002 to 2007, Shoji created evening gowns worthy of spectacle for pageant participants. In addition, Shoji’s clothes hang on the racks of more than 700 department stores and fine shops in more than 50 countries around the world. These include five signature Tadashi Shoji boutiques in the United States: one in Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas and the other in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California. Shoji’s clothes also have appeared in numerous fashion magazines and websites, as well as in New York Fashion Week. I caught up with the designer a couple weeks after NYFW wound down to hear about his recent experience in the city that never sleeps, and what else he has in the works.
What are your reflections on the most recent NYFW?
I always look forward to NYFW, and the challenges and the excitement it brings. This season was especially unique, as I participated in the Business of Fashion white bandana #TiedTogether movement. I was honored to be able to make a statement with other designers to support solidarity and unity.
How have your experiences with NYFW evolved since your first Fall 2007 showing?
Many things have changed in my years showing at NYFW. The overall production of the show has become more organized and streamlined. I want a calm atmosphere. I focus on the beauty of the clothes and women who wear them.
How does your fine art training influence your approach to fashion design? Do you think there is anything distinctly Japanese about your aesthetic?
I trained formally in art school and worked for artist Jiro Takamatsu, which was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The experience however, made me realize that this wasn’t the path I wanted to take. From there, I decided I wanted to move to the United States, so I worked many odd jobs that led me to fashion design. I am still greatly influenced by art. Usually, each season begins with finding a piece that really inspires me to base the new collection on. Although I do not generally have any Japanese aesthetics in my designs, I continue to love the country and culture in Japan. I’m so inspired by the people and visit Japan often. In fact, my spring 2016 collection (as well as my new fragrance) was inspired by Japanese rose gardens.
Could you confirm when you launched your bridal collection? What do you think is special about designing for brides?
The bridal collection is available at the Tadashi Shoji boutique in Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara, California, and is available on our website. It will also be carried online at Nordstrom.com. I started selling white dresses on BHLDN.com. The collection did so well they asked me to create bridal pieces specifically for them. From there, I decided to create my own bridal collection. The gowns are a natural progression of my brand and aesthetic. My bridal designs capture the essence of affordable luxury without any fuss.
When are your leather handbag and lingerie lines due out? What can you tell us about how they will look?
Tadashi Shoji will launch handbags this summer. Our new collection will include a variety of styles from wristlets to totes using all natural leather with pony hair and laser cut details. Lingerie will launch this summer and shape wear will launch in April. [The shape wear line] will include high-waisted panties, a bodysuit, and mini slip with lace trims and shapers to smooth under formalwear and contour the waist.
Why did you decide to venture into fragrance this year? What was the process of making a fragrance like?
Eau de Rose launched in March and is now available on our website, in all Lord & Taylor stores and on Macys.com. I’ve wanted to create my own fragrance for several years now. Since I am launching my other categories, it just made sense to become a lifestyle brand. The hardest part of getting the fragrance right was the scent. Fragrances are a very long development because the progress phase is very personal and emotional. I wanted my scent to be just right and perfect for all markets that I sell to.
When can New Yorkers expect to see a Tadashi Shoji boutique open here?
I haven’t set a date for New York. However, our retail developments are on the rise. We are focusing on a Middle East expansion in 2018 and are set to open 18 stores.