A Conversation With: Ryota Iwai

January 22, 2022
Courtesy: Ryota Iwai

Ryota Iwai launched Auralee in 2015 after studying fashion design and working as an assistant at knitwear brand, Norikoike. Based in Tokyo, he brings his passion for textiles to each collection. Iwai’s sophisticated and pared-back style continues to attract a loyal following from discerning retailers and customers alike.

Are you a dreamer?
To be honest, in both senses of the word, no. I could spend the entire year without dreaming. Only on rare occasions, like near the end of our collection preparation or before our presentation, some of the worries and concerns in my head manifest themselves in my dreams. As in, “I should have made that coat” or “Maybe we need another skirt option.”

Had you dreamed of becoming a designer?
Initially it wasn’t my intention. I had always thought I would end up opening my own vintage store; but just through natural circumstances and opportunities, I found myself on the course to design. So here we are now.

Why do you think people dream of working in fashion?
The only reason that comes to mind is because they truly love it. 

Do you get creative ideas from your sleeping dreams?

[When I have] dreams with amazing ideas, I unfortunately never remember them in the morning. 

When was the last time a dream came true for you?

Beyond opening my own vintage store, being able to do that through Auralee and our flagship store in Tokyo in 2017 was a dream that became reality. 

In what moments do you dream best (sleeping, daydreaming, walking)?

I find myself daydreaming the most while I’m commuting on my bicycle: a sense of calm for a half-hour outside before and after work – although these days it sounds a bit dangerous, to be honest. 

Do dreams help us make sense of reality or do they help us escape?

I would imagine that they help in both directions. 

Do you have a dream that remains unfulfilled?
I am so lucky and grateful to have achieved what we have with the brand so far. Going forward? I suppose it would be amazing to open my own onsen hot spring one day.

What is one dream you would like to achieve this coming year?
I am not the type to plan and set goals ahead of time. I typically prefer the freedom of going-with-the-flow.  So for this year, I just hope that we can have fun and continue what we are doing. It would also be nice to go to the hot springs as much as possible. 

About the photo: The water is related to my love for hot springs

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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