Fashion designer Ryota Iwai was born in Kobe, Japan in 1983. A graduate of Bunka Fashion College, he presented his first Auralee collection in Tokyo during the Spring-Summer 2015 season as a men’s and women’s ready-to-wear brand. At the heart of label is the intention to exhibit contemporary cuts with superior materials produced only in Japan, always emphasizing detail and quality. A characteristic Japanese sensibility applied to construction of the pieces contributes to Auralee’s distinct identity.
What is your mindset right now?
Looking towards the next collection; switching over my focus to the materials and the collection I want to create for next season.
What was the starting point for this collection?
In my free time, I am always going to the sauna. At a particular wood-burning sauna, I found myself staring at and getting lost in the swaying of the fire. This calm moment was an important catalyst for the collection. I wanted to express this feeling of rest, healing and taking a break; it was a mood I certainly needed at the time, as well as what I believe people in general are searching for right now, something quiet but uplifting.
Your thoughts on how the industry is responding positively to this moment?
I believe this moment brought upon the much needed opportunity for people to really reevaluate the true necessities. Along with this, with the entire status quo of the industry being flipped on itself, we have been faced with the positive challenge of having to find new creative solutions, creating collection videos for the first time in lieu of our physical presentations, sending collection packages with original artwork and fabric swatches, in place of our showroom. Producers and retailers as well — we are all sharing this difficult moment together; yet I genuinely feel a very positive atmosphere, where everyone is doing their best to support one another.
Your thoughts on the challenges the industry faces through this moment?
Along with our current global circumstances, an ongoing issue for both the consumers and brands has been the unrealistic industry schedule. As in, short sales period and sale issues. A constant cycle of pressure to mass produce as much as possible; sell to retailers; and eventually sell at a discount. This system is something that needs to be reconsidered. When I create, it is not for the intention of putting the product on discount. I think it’s important to have the product out there at the intended prices, as by doing so, the producers will be able to be paid properly, the profits for retailers will increase, and there will be less waste. There needs to be a shift in the cycle that has created these draconian circumstances that the industry faces today.
Your thoughts on how we will look back on this moment in five years?
I hope we can look back at this moment as a time that brought about positive change.
How are you addressing sustainability?
I believe the first point is to acknowledge that we can be doing more. I want to strive to learn how to incorporate better practices in a manner that is true to the brand. Every season, we always aim to never overproduce and avoid waste; there are no discount sales at our Tokyo flagship; and we only produce what is ordered from our retailers. Our goal is also to create only the highest quality products that are meant to be cherished and worn for a long time. In our production, I try to be on site as much as possible; and through this dialogue with our producers, I directly witness and have my hand in how our clothing is made. In developing our own fabrics, we are able to have control, we try to use natural materials as much as possible, and in recent seasons have been incorporating recycled materials, and GOTS-certified organic cotton whenever possible. Lastly, with producing everything domestically, we are able to support and maintain localized craft.
How might sustainable materials and fabrics influence or direct future fashion design?
I think it will become the standard in the future, and it will also have the potential to expand creativity.
Does ‘sustainable fashion’ have an aesthetic and is this changing?
Although sustainable fashion was once more nuanced and limited, as we see the industry shift, I believe more creative outlets will be born with sustainable efforts like never before.
Your message to everyone involved in the making of this collection?
Thanks to everyone involved, we were able to create this collection and the video which we presented on March 3rd. I’m always really grateful, as the brand would not exist without everyone’s efforts, and I will continue to try to do my best!
Your message to everyone who would normally be attending your show?
Even if it is just for a few minutes, we truly appreciate you taking the time to view our work.
Your hope for the future of fashion weeks?
Although it is unfortunate we are unable to see the people we would otherwise be working with in Paris, as well as our retailers in the showroom, and guests at the presentation, I look forward to seeing everyone once again, and to be back in Paris showing physically in an even better way than before.