Hiroyuki Watanabe was the winner of the Star Creation Audi Young Designer award for 2011; since then he’s been making waves in the world of fashion both in Singapore and his homeland of Japan.
We catch up with him for a chat about how his career has developed since winning the award and find out where he’s headed in 2012.
It’s been a year since you began your Star Creation journey and took one of the top spots. How has your life changed?
The competition boosted my confidence in my own abilities as a designer, and my dream of having my work featured around Asia is becoming a reality as a result of winning the Audi Young Designer Award. I am currently building up my own label under the mentorship of Mr Yuji Yamamoto and his fashion design management company, RE.BIRTH CO. Through RE.BIRTH CO. I have also had a chance to make my retail debut in Singapore at the MAKE ONE’S MARK pop-up store at PARCO Marina Bay.
How did you get the attention of Mr Yamamoto and RE.BIRTH?
It was actually the Japanese PR team for Star Creation that hooked me up with Mr Yamamoto, who liked the Modern Folk Costume collection I had submitted for the competition. He offered me the opportunity to be mentored by him and to learn how to design a commercially-viable clothing line as well as to learn other aspects of running a fashion label, from sourcing and merchandising to production and sales.
How has the RE.BIRTH experience been?
What has been great about RE.BIRTH is having access to sales channels, since they have outlets at PARCO Shibuya, Namba Parks in Osaka and Fukuoka Mitsukoshi. It means being able to introduce my designs to the Japanese market and the response has been very welcoming. Because Singaporeans have already heard of me through Star Creation, Mr Yamamoto also felt it would be fitting for me to bring over my collection for the pop-up store at PARCO Marina Bay. If the pieces are received well, I hope to be able to do even more in Singapore.
Can you tell us about the RE.BIRTH collection?
The theme for my collection is Borderless Closet – I have tried to erase the borders between age, gender and race. I have used jersey for the entire collection and created simple silhouettes with some unique details incorporated into the designs.
What’s next for you?
Every day has brought exciting new adventures and I am loving every minute of it. Right now, I am waiting to see how well received my collection is here and whether there might be additional opportunities to do things in Singapore. I also have plans to eventually turn my competition collection for Star Creation into an actual clothing line.
Singapore fashion design competition Star Creation is now taking entries for 2012. The fashion design competition is open to fashion designers aged between 16 and 35, who are Asian citizens; they will need to submit six original and previously unreleased designs; should not have more than two years in the fashion industry or be selling their designs or labels during the period of the competition. The closing date for entries is January 31, 2012. For more information and entry forms for Star Creation 2012, go to www.starcreation.sg.