The Myth of Toga

  • The Toga pop up vintage store is now installed in Joyce, Pacific Place. Designer Yasuko Furuta revealed to JOYCE.com the myth behind the label’s history and the latest collections.

    As the concept of vintage clothing has always been an important element in TOGA’s design, TOGA’s designer Yasuko Furuta handpicked vintage pieces from all over the world to set up its one-of-a-kind vintage stores in Harajuku and Osaka, to compliment the TOGA collection. Joyce Pacific Place is the third TOGA vintage store worldwide.

    Born in Japan and educated in Paris, Furuta grew up with traditional Japanese aesthetics and later acquired a European approach to fashion design. She graduated from Esmod Paris in 1994. After working for TV programs and Japanese celebrities for 3 years, she changed career direction and became a costume designer which organically evolved into starting her own label, Toga in 1997.

    “When I grew up at home my grandmother still wore kimonos, so I was very rooted in Japanese culture. Coming to Europe was the first time for me to be living in a foreign country and it made me realise that what I had considered normal was actually really Japanese.”

    Furuta spoke about her cross-cultural references in her work.

    Furuta knew at an early age that she would become a fashion designer but Paris and the European influence were not quite intentional. She continued with a wry smile:

    “ I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 6 years old. My parents told me that I used to make patterns out of newspapers. I came to Paris to study because… I didn’t finish the Japanese school… hahahaha, it’s true.”

    The European influence is particularly prominent in her latest women’s autumn/winter collection. Based on the impressionist era, she drew ideas from artists such as Renoir, Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. The collection uses a masculine style of trousers with drape, corsets and a high waist. The draping represents the curtains in the Old Masters Nude style of paintings within that era. The patterns on the fabric are inspired by the jacquard style, which is seen in classic wallpapers and textiles. Furuta elaborated:

    “I like the still life paintings and nude portraits from this era so I decided to mix them up and recompose in a modern way to create the motifs of this collection.”

    Apart from the impressionist era, she’s also fascinated with the ancient Greek culture; hence she chose the word Toga which is an ancient Greek robe as the name of the label:

    “ I’ve always loved Greek myths because they are the roots of culture. The white toga draping is the origin of clothes.”

    Although she loves drawing inspirations from the past, her clothes are designed for modern women who appreciate newness.

    “ I see my customer as someone curious, who’s a challenger and interested in new things as I myself also get excited when encountering new things and breaking taboos!”

    Interview by Lucienne Leung- Davies
    Video by STIMULEYE
    Photos by Filep Motwary
    Special thanks to Hiromi Otsuka for the translation.