Dazed Digital

Shanghai / 中文

Yutaka Onozawa

November 10, 2011

We speak to the award-winning independent fashion designer changing the Shanghai scene for the better

  • Text by Karchun Leung

I'd met the Japanese-born, Shanghai-bred fashion designer Yutaka Onozawa a few times at various fashion events and dinners but he always remained quite an elusive character. However through mutual friends we got to know each other better and now knowing him and his label which he is the creative director of, Silent Voice, I have come to realise that he is one of the most talented and exciting independent fashion designers in China.

A graduate from the Paris Mod’Art international-Shanghai University, he won the golden Award of Jeanswest International Fashion design contest - the biggest competition in China - when he was in his second year of college. He then received an unconditional offer from Central Saint Martins for a Womenswear Design Course, a monument to his talent, as no Japanese student has ever got the womenswear offer in past three years. However, he renounced the chance and launched Silent Voice instead.

”I want to keep originality and find meaning of the fashion to myself," he explains. "I opened a new studio in Shanghai - TianZiFang in 2010 with the hope to influence the regular visuals of Chinese fashion."

Satellite Voices: Why did you decide to be a fashion designer?
Yutaka Onozawa: I realised there are many kinds of works of fashion when I was studding in college and after I won the contest in 2006, I realised I had the confidence and ability to be a fashion designer. I love music, fine arts, all artist works, and I love to create something new and different. Fashion design had the ability to combine all I love into one work, a way to present my philosophy and attitude, so I decided to be a fashion designer.

SV: How would you describe your design philosophy?
Yutaka Onozawa: I am an experimentalist. Silent Voice is always looking for other brands or artists to crossover and discover. My works are artistic and dramatic and the spirit of brand is not only about the clothing, but shows an attitude which is solitude and persistence. We lives in a cold reality and I believe that fashion has the ability to remedy the essence of human nature. Nothing is impossible, use own imagination to save the world. Be positive because you always have to break down an old part of you in order to discover a new one.

SV: Who influences your designs the most?
Yutaka Onozawa: Ian Curtis. Joy Division was a represention of freedom, dreams and sadness. I love Alexander McQueen’s dramatics, Maison Martin Margiela’s experimentalness,Jun Takahashi’s artistic vision. But I love Yohji Yamamoto the most, it is not only about the clothes, it shows Yohji’s philosophy, story and attitude. He knows what fashion means to him and keep his philosophy throughout life. I felt a strong and positive energy from his clothes.

SV: What is more important - creativity or business?
Yutaka Onozawa: Fashion for me it is not only about the clothes and design, it shows designer’s attitude and information. It is a personal mark, every designer needs to be very creative. But they need to know how to run a fashion business to survive in this world. Sometimes a business mind and marketing will influence a designer’s creativity and designers need to find a balance between creativity and business. However, in my philosophy creativity is the most important for me, it shows a designer’s value.

SV: Can you tell us about the fashion scene in Shanghai and China?
Yutaka Onozawa: There are all these fashion magazines and websites in Shanghai but most follow European or Japanese fashion, very few realise what Chinese fashion is about. When I talk with local friends, they think fashion is a product for rich people, but true fashion is for everyone. There are no rules for fashion, it is not dependent on the price and brands. Shanghai people need to know what is their own fashion philosophy and life style.

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