Interview & Report

Dairiku Okamoto

Dairiku Okamoto

DAIRIKU Designer

When I was a student, I used to go to "Ame-Mura", a young people's town in Osaka every day, and I was surrounded by used clothes all the time.
I dig out the roots of each part of clothing from old clothes and treasure them, and project them into my own brand.
Also, my father is a big movie fan and I have been watching old American movies next to him since I was a child, which has had a big influence on me.
For each season of my own collection, I create a series of stories based on movies that I can relate to at that time.

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“DAIRIKU”, the grand prix winner of the “TOKYO FASHION AWARD 2022 (hereinafter indicated as TFA)”, after conducting an exhibit at Paris, presented a show at “Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO 2022 A/W”, filled with its designer, Mr. Dairiku Okamoto’s roots. At the movie set-like venue, a big crowd gathered, proving how high an attention they are gathering. We interviewed Mr. Dairiku Okamoto on what his source of imagination is for his collection based on American casual added with details such as unique silhouettes, use of colors, etc., how his brand has changed from participating in TFA, etc.

First, please tell us how you came to start up your brand.

It was when I was in high school that I became interested in vintage clothes I found in a magazine and went to America Mura in Osaka. That was the time I learned of words like domestic brands, imports, for the first time and gradually began to think I want to make clothes myself. After I started working at VANTAN, I began to present my clothes in exhibit style. I was aggressively making opportunities to present my work. In 2016, I won the grand prix in the Asia fashion collection. When I presented a runway show at NY the next year, a buyer from a Japanese select shop contacted me, which made me think, if this is the case, if I were to go talk to people for business I have a good chance to have my clothes carried, so I decided to start up my own brand.

Your collection theme is always movies. How do you decide on your seasonal theme, every season?

I think I was influenced largely from my father who loved movies, and there was a year when I watched about 250 movies. I watch new movies too, but I’m usually inspired by old movies. Dustin Hoffman’s ‘The Graduate’ (1967) and ‘Easy rider’ (1970) are my all-time favorites, so I tend to choose movies from around that time for my theme. Since I was able to go to Paris thanks to TFA, for my next collection I’m thinking of something like ‘Lost In Translation’ (2003). I’m constantly thinking about which movie I want to use next. Rather than simply expressing the stylings in the movie as is, I mix in things I am feeling at the time, parts of other movies I thought was good, and develop a collection by forming it into a whole new story in my mind.

The show you presented at Rakuten Fashion Week TOKYO 2022 A/W being your very first runway show in Japan, with what kind of mindset did you face it?

The stylist who has been helping me with the styling of our looks and I had always been talking about wanting to one day do a show together, so I am really happy our wish came true. Every season, I’ve always developed my collections under a movie theme, and in 2022 A/W I mixed movies such as ‘Wall flower’, ‘Sing Street’, but for the runway set, we created a movie set-like space under the theme ‘8 1/2’. To be honest, I thought maybe a place like the ocean or a hotel that coincides with the collection theme would be better in expressing the worldview of the collection, but I came to think, since movies are shot at movie studios, maybe this will allow me to try out all sorts of expressions. Because there was a restriction that I had to do the show at a black box like Hikarie, I think I arrived at that conclusion, which, now that I think about it, was better.

In the show, you presented styles of all sorts of genres, it gave us the impression of touring around vintage clothing shops.

I agree. There were all sorts of people at America Mura, so I think it turned out that way naturally. Until the 8th season, we were developing under a feeling of “this time of age”, “this generation”, “the nuance of this movie”, but after that, I began to be conscious of place like America Mura or Ura-Harajuku, so our style changed to creating looks of mixing all sorts of things. In fashion, there is sort of a rule for each era, but I feel a mixed style is more befitting my mood. In the 2023 SS collection, I’ve mixed 50’s ~ 70’s tastes, but when you go to a vintage shop, it’s only natural that a particular item you picked up could be from the 80’s or 50’s. I think I’m making with that kind of sense.

What kind of experience has participating in TFA programs been for the brand?

It was frustrating more than anything. At Paris, there is no situation in which a buyer comes looking for one particular Japanese brand. In the end we received orders, but on the other hand, it was because of that frustration that made me feel we have to go back to Paris every season. It reminded me of the first season of DAIRIKU, when we contacted all sorts of buyers, but nobody came, so it made me feel, I’m going to keep trying! In this sense, it turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to whip up my spirits, so I am glad to have participated.

Please give a message to those brands considering applying to the TOKYO FASHION AWARD in the future.

The encounter with the designers going to Paris with you, gaining a real feel of reactions at Paris are both truly valuable experiences, and I think it will become an opportunity to challenge all sorts of new things.

Finally, please tell us about your future aspirations for the brand.

We will be going to Paris two more times for TFA exhibits, but the next time after that, I am thinking about going there on my own. But of course, we still have to steady our ground much stronger before we do. I’ve always had the wish to do an overseas exhibit, present a show overseas, own a shop at Osaka and Tokyo, so I am going to continue doing my very best to realize these dreams.

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