Fashion Designer: Akira Isogawa

Akira Isogawa is one of Australia’s most celebrated designers.

Born in Kyoto Japan, Akira moved to Australia in 1986 where he studied fashion design at the Sydney Institute of Technology, drawing inspiration from contemporary Japanese design.

Since 1998, Akira has shown his collections in Paris, where he presents Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections to international buyers each year.He has achieved international recognition for his exquisite contemporary designs, which are sought after in every major fashion capital throughout the world.

Akira continues to maintain a strong presence in Sydney, where he has shown his Resort collections during Australian Fashion Week since 1996. He has four stand alone boutiques in Australia – in Woollahra and the Strand Arcade, Sydney; the GPO in Melbourne; and, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

Akira has designed costumes for four Sydney Dance Company and has recently completed an eighteen month assignment designing the costumes for  the Australian Ballet’s production of Grahame Murphy’s Romeo and Juliet, to tour the Sydney Opera House in December 2011.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Determined, Meticulous, Down-to-earth.

When did you start pursuing your career? I studied social welfare at university in Japan for two years, but I didn’t graduate. I had every intention of doing so, but the realised I wanted to escape studying and living with my parents, so I moved to Australia. Before I returned to Japan, I enrolled in a fashion course at Sydney’s Institute of Technical and Further Education – TAFE.

How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? Every day, very long hours – staying up all night sewing and coming up with ideas and meeting deadlines. It was a lot of work. 

Describe how challenging the business really is? The opportunities in Australia are really great because people accept you for what you do but it can be very sloppy. It takes a long time to get things done properly. 

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I’ve made a lot of mistakes by trusting some people too much, and sometimes mistakes cost a lot of money. Many mistakes have arisen through not assessing a situation properly in terms of what I, or other people are capable of doing.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given to date? When growing fast, you need to be really careful.

What’s the piece of advice that you weren’t and had to learn the hard way? Don’t be so trusting of everyone.

In your mind, is formal training essential? Yes. Here at my company, we accept many interns. Sometimes, we have four students at once. We usually take third-year students from TAFE or the University of Technology Sydney. 

What are some step emerging designers can take to start/further their career? Don’t give up. Keep going. Take the appropriate courses you need. Learn your craft. Have a plan of where you want to go.

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I think it is a bit of both hard work and also being offered certain opportunities that potentially increase your luck.

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