Wataru Tominaga All You Need to Know 2016 Interview

wataru tominaga aw16
Wataru Tominga AW16

Wataru Tominaga: All you need to know about the Central Saint Martins graduate and Hyères Fashion Festival 2016 Grand prix winner.

Wataru Tominaga is shy and unassuming; when designing he is every bit the maximalist. The Japan born designer and Central Saint Martins BA Fashion graduate scooped this year’s Grand Prix at France’s prestigious Hyères Fashion Festival with his intricately made menswear collection, a pastiche of traditional fabrics collaged in a riot of colour and optimism. Using artisanal techniques and traditional tailoring methods borrowed from both mens- and womenswear ateliers, Wataru Tominaga’s designs are as much a celebration of handicraft as of energy and youthful exuberance. Lego-coloured heat-taped stripes and folklore-ish cuts lend a fun element to what are in fact highly structured and tailored garments; each design is the result of hundreds of hours of skilled work. “I took a men’s classic corduroy but I used gathering techniques from women’s dresses. I really love the 1920s designer Madame Grès, everything is so strictly made’, Wataru Tominaga explains.

Wataru Tominaga’s work is full of surprises and contradictions, factors that no doubt spurred Julien Dossena, Paco Rabanne’s Creative Director for womenswear and one of the judges at the Hyères Festival this year, to describe the graduate as “a young Issey Miyake”.The bespectacled designer is flattered by the comparison but points out that while Miyake was interested in creating volumes and architectural folds from his trademark single piece of cloth, he is focused on the textural effects of layering fabrics together.  “When I was a child, I looked at so many American and European cultures. Pop cultures. I like really colourful things,” he says in a hushed tone after his show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin.

Growing up in a small city in Japan, Wataru Tominaga drew his inspiration from the Internet and dreamt of moving to a sprawling metropolis. “I didn’t go out a lot but I liked to read comics and draw a lot as a child. I am not that interested in nature. I am more interested in visual culture and I looked a lot online for things to inspire me. I moved to Tokyo before London.”Given his obsession with internet culture and his move to Japan’s tech-wired capital city, Wataru Tominaga’s aesthetic could have easily been steered towards a more ‘immediate’ kind of methodology, like 3D printing. It’s surprising that he’s nurtured a fascination with craftsmanship and artisanal traditions instead.

“I always think that if we want to make something special, we must have time,’ he explains. “Making things by hand is the most important thing for me. Nowadays designers make a lot of similar things and they are good at styling. I don’t believe in styling so much. I really believe in developing crafts to make clothes.”

Wataru Tominaga is, by his own description, “a flexible” kind of designer who is open to new experiences. As part of his Grand Prix achievement, he gets to work (or as he says, “study”) with Chanel’s Métiers d’Art ateliers in Paris on a collection for 2017 edition of the festival. Despite unveiling new womenswear looks, the young designer wants to stick to menswear for now. He’s eager to try his hand at shoe design and has also considered exploring a more minimalist style. “Minimal and maximal things have a common element – the extreme point. When minimalist goes to an extreme, it can also have the aura of craziness, which I like very much.” Whatever he has in store for us next, it will undoubtedly be a labour of love.

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wataru tominaga aw16
Wataru Tominaga AW16

 Something About Colour

I really like colourful things. When I was a child I looked to American and European culture a lot! For this collection I was drawn to 60s and 70s clothes especially, when guys and girls exchanged their clothes, promoting free gender. At the same time in the 70s there was a folklore revival and I’m really inspired by that.

 Something About Aspiration

‘I dreamt of studying in London from a very young age. When I was about seven or eight I read all these comics about a girl studying fashion in London and from then on it became something special to me.’

 Something About Gastronomy

‘Once I went to eat breakfast in Tsukiji fish market in the early morning. It was great experience even though I am Japanese. I would love to travel to more Asian countries. I am more and more interested in the culture of my origin.’


Wataru Tominaga in Something About AW16 Print Issue

Story by: Alexandra Zagalsky

Photographer: Dham Srifuengfung

Fashion by: Michael Darlington

wataru tominaga
Wataru Tominga AW 2016