Fresh Threads

A Japanese designer begins to take a bite out of the Big Apple. This piece also ran in the Spring 2009 issue.

By Noelia De La Cruz

Makoto Takada designs with a sense of humor and playfulness that is innately Japanese, but his inspiration stems largely from his love for American films.  Watching them for enjoyment, he comes out of them enthused by the romance, the melancholy and the optimism created by the characters.  The dramatic romance “Atonement” is one source for his inspiration.

While Takada enjoys designing gowns for award ceremonies, he’s just beginning to think about what to send down the runway.  A rising fashion designer and 2008 graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Takada was chosen as the winner of CosmoGirl’s 2008 “Born To Lead Design Search,” a competition that has propelled his career.  He received $10,000 grant from Macy’s East and a one-time partnership with XOXO, a brand specializing in hip, urban clothing.

Hailing from Nagasaki, Japan, Takada never expected to become a designer; he originally came to America to study business, in which he earned an associate’s degree.  But he later decided that he would rather exercise his creativity in fashion design by transferring to FIT and focusing on sportswear.

Takada has since interned for designer Zac Posen during this year’s New York Spring Fashion Week and currently works as a pattern maker for the Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren labels, soaking in experience that he knows will be useful to him in the future.

“I’ve been enjoying making connections and exploring the kinds of companies I want to work for,” he says.

Most importantly though, Takada is working on his next portfolio collection, which he says is partly inspired by “The Reader,” a film about the Holocaust.

He ultimately wants to start his own label, but realizes it will not be easy because the economy has made it difficult for beginning designers.  “Because it’s a difficult time, designs have to stand out and be interesting, but also affordable and economical.  It’s very challenging,” Takada says.

But despite the obstacles, Takada remains extremely optimistic.  “[There are] huge opportunities to provide new kinds of fashion for the future,” he says.  “This is the new era.”

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