VISUAL TALES: Back in September of 2023 during New York Fashion Week, you presented your first official CFDA fashion calendar runway show (SS2024), how does it feel?
KOZABURO AKASAKA: Yes, as I’ve been living in New York for over 10 years now, the runway show is a celebration of the accumulation of my relationships with collaborators and the story of the brand. In the right time, and right place.
VT: Congrats on being a finalist for the 2023 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund. You always handle your brand/collections under your own terms (Outside of the fashion schedule and presented in your own creative platform) Can you let us know why you decide it is a good time to go all out and be part of the inner fashion process by entering this year’s CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund? What did you discover about the process?
KA: My intention has always been the same despite the location and terms, but this time we choose to showcase where we are based physically. A part of my story starts with individuality within globalism and New York is the heart of the global industry if it makes sense. I also believe fashion always has the space to accommodate different ideas and cultures.
VT: You have worked for Thom Browne in the early part of your career and he is now the Chairman of the CFDA. During your tenure working at his brand, what did you learn from Thom that is vital in creating your own brand?
KA: Be true to yourself and believe in yourself.
VT: For our viewers who haven’t discovered your collection and Kozaburo, share with us about the ethos of the brand and what separates your work from the other independent brands in NY. Tell us your background and the path for you to become a designer.
KA: I believe my unique view is based on my academic background in philosophy and art, additionally, as my vision of global citizen, mind-fullness, and craftsmanship of design.
VT: One key element that stood out in your show was the casting. You have been working with a great casting director, Jonny Buckley for many seasons. What are the key requirements that you are looking for in a model that defines a Kozaburo individual?
KA: Jonny has been a good friend ever since I launched my brand and has cast multiple Kozaburo presentations. The process is natural and unconformative. It is like a process of searching for a universal spirit from different individuals.
VT: For SS2024, what are your thoughts behind the collection?
KA: I wanted to create an experience, a utopia called "Land of Setting Sun”. The imaginary inhabitants where wardrobes are the essence of my creations.
VT: The show included drummers and artistic sculptures as a setting which elevated the mood of the collection. Tell us about these integral elements of the show.
KA: These elements all came together to celebrate the creative community I have embraced over the past years. Greg Fox, and Alex Zhang Hungtai, the two drummers, meeting at the beginning of infinity is a representation of the universal language of communication, ceremony, and spirituality. A symbolic reference to a past show, in Tokyo, with Taiko drummers. Wenjüe Lu and Michael Fang collaborated to make the soft sculpture using discarded denim. One of the designers helped along the way before they launched their label and we have continued our relationship through our interest in art. Our scenic design lead, Kevin Peter He knows from near the beginning of the brand and now works as a creative director of the location.
VT: Although you are living in NY, the production of your collection is mainly based in Japan. For a NY independent designer, where budgetary concerns are always fundamental in staying in business, how does producing in Japan beneficial to Kozaburo as a brand?
KA: Japan is where I come from. Personally, I still believe in the unique characteristics of quality, dedication, and a certain level of dignity of the product in Japan.
VT: How do you envision going forward with Kozaburo? How important is it for your brand to be given the Vogue Fashion Fund grand prize?
KA: Creating landscapes ideally: a borderless space for creative spirituality and style. Visibility of my ideas: gives awareness and opportunity for people to breach and learn about different values.
VT: Who are you inspired by? If you can dress anyone in Kozaburo, who might this perfect individual be for your brand and why did you choose this person.
KA: It's hard to pick just one person but it would be musicians, close friends, archaeologists, and philosophers who are brave enough to search for their own spirit.
VT: Any advice for young designers out there knowing what you know now about the industry that you can provide as a word of wisdom?KA: Quoting Miles Davis, “It's not the note you play that's the wrong note – it's the note you play afterward that makes it right or wrong.”
Visual Tales presents KOZABURO by Kozaburo Akasaka—AW2023 Fashion Special