Last Friday, I attended the Japan Fashion Now Symposium at FIT. The symposium ended with a Q&A with FIT’s museum director, Valerie Steele and Japanese fashion designer Hirooka Naoto of the brand h. NAOTO. I decided to dedicate an entire article to Hirooka Naoto because he has really fascinating ideas about fashion and art. This is evident in his primary brand, h. NAOTO and the newly created subdivision, “h EAVEN” which includes brands like “Hangry and Angry” and “GRAMM”.
In the Q&A, Hirooka answered questions from Ms. Steele about his brand and how he views fashion. Hirooka stated that he was inspired by Gothic, Punk, and Lolita culture. He also said that he wants his clothes to be cute but that they must also contain extreme and grotesque elements. When he first began designing, Hirooka said that he found labels like Comme des Garcons to be odd and he started to experiment with Goth, Punk, and Lolita for his own label.
Additionally, Ms. Steele asked Hirooka to tell why he believes his brand & designs have been so successful (h. NAOTO is Japan’s most successful Gothic-Punk-Lolita Empire). Hirooka said that his brand has been successful because his customers use his clothes as a tool to become a different person. When wearing his clothes, a customer can make themselves appear dark/Goth, and be different.
After the Q&A, the symposium ended and I was able to get an interview with Hirooka. Check out the interview transcription below. Also, check out the video presentation of h. NAOTO’s S/S 2011 collection which was inspired by Monsters and the illustrations of GASHICON (the illustrator who also did the Hangry & Angry cartoon cats for h. NAOTO).
DLP (de la Pen): What is your creative process? Do you sketch first or come up with a concept first?
HN (Hirooka Naoto): I brainstorm the collection’s concept first. I have a theme for each collection from 2008 up until 2013, the first collection was the pelvis and birth water, the second was a woman’s womb, the third was crime & punishment, and the current collection is the monster. After this current collection, the themes won’t be revealed until the collection is.
DLP: What motivates you? What inspires you?
HN: Nothing. I don’t find anything interesting so it motivates me to create something new. I want to create something that is interesting so that is why I design.
DLP: What’s the future of h. NAOTO?
HN: To make an h. NAOTO Disneyland in Tokyo. I want to have the outfits and the music, the whole Disneyland will be modeled after h. NAOTO. Everyone who works there will be dressed in all black, zombie, and alien attire. It will be fun to see h. NAOTO characters all dressed up in real life.
h. NAOTO Spring/Summer 2011 Presentation
And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen…de la Pen.
For More Information on h. NAOTO Check Out the Website: