Innocent World Tea Party in Vienna: Q&A

interview - 10.31.2013 20:01

Designer Yumi Fujiwara shares her views about originality, what lolita fashion means to her, Western lolitas and more.

On October 12, 2013, the popular classic lolita brand Innocent World held its first European tea party in Vienna, Austria. One of the highlights of the jam-packed programme was a Q&A with designer Yumi Fujiwara, who answered questions that had been sent in by the guests ahead of the event. JaME was in attendance and recorded what she had to say.

We would like to start with some questions that we received earlier and if we still have time afterwards you can ask more questions. First off, where does the inspiration for your designs come from?

Yumi Fujiwara: The main source of my inspiration is traditional European clothing and design.

Which countries do you take most of your inspiration from and which countries have you visited up until now?

Yumi Fujiwara: I have already visited Austria, France, England, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic.

When are you going to open a shop in Europe?

Yumi Fujiwara: I haven't thought about it before, but now you have asked the question and I see how enthusiastic you all are, I definitely want to open a shop in Europe! (loud cheers and applause)

Do you have any plans for a collaboration?

Yumi Fujiwara: I haven't announced it yet, but there are plans for a collaboration with Peter Rabbit, the character from children's books.

What are your favourite countries and your favourite cities?

Yumi Fujiwara: Austria and Vienna. (laughter and applause) I also like Rothenburg in Germany and Paris in France.

Among all the designs you have released until now, is there one that has a special place in your heart or that you have fond memories of?

Yumi Fujiwara: Actually, the dress I'm wearing today (editor's note: "Royal Library"), I'm very fond of it. It's a dress I thought of two years ago when I first visited Austria. I saw the Prunksaal in the Austrian National Library and that's what inspired the print.

Is there a specific fabric you like to work with or is there one you don't like to work with because it is hard to create dresses with?

Yumi Fujiwara: There is no such thing as a fabric I like best or that I don't like. I usually start with the design and from there I start thinking about what fabric would go well with the print or design I have created.

Are you planning to release jackets, coats or blouses with sleeves that are up to 62cm long? (editor's note: the sleeves of Innocent World's clothes are notoriously short for Westerners)

Yumi Fujiwara: I haven't thought about it, but I assume the question means that there are people who need longer sleeves. (laughter) I will try to incorporate it. (applause)

Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own brand?

Yumi Fujiwara: I think the most important thing is to have originality, so rather than trying to create something that has already been done before, try to create something completely new that has not been done by any brand before.

Do you prefer dresses with or without print?

Yumi Fujiwara: I like them both equally.

What do you like most about lolita fashion?

Yumi Fujiwara: I like that it is very elegant and cute.

Do you think lolita fashion has an age limit?

Yumi Fujiwara: No, I don't think so, but to be able to keep wearing lolita at any age you should keep your heart pure and beautiful. (applause)

Do you have a lot of customers from overseas?

Yumi Fujiwara: Yes, more and more every year. Most of them are from the US and Canada, but I also have customers from Europe and Australia.

What's the soul of lolita?

Yumi Fujiwara: The heart of lolita fashion is, no matter what you are told by other people or how you are looked at, to just keep doing what you really like and wear the clothes you love. (applause)

Do you think lolita expresses something from deep inside or is it just a fashion?

Yumi Fujiwara: I'm not trying to express anything; I just really like pretty dresses! (laughter)

Is there a difference between customers from Japan and customers from Europe?

Yumi Fujiwara: Ivory is the most popular colour in Japan as well as overseas, but I noticed that overseas customers really like black, whereas Japanese customers prefer brown or burgundy. I also think that overseas customers tend to not think so much about what is popular right now or what appears in fashion magazines or is just being released. They tend to just buy things they really like and try to express themselves more than Japanese customers do.

How did you get to do the job you're doing now and how did you get introduced to the world of fashion?

Yumi Fujiwara: Actually, my mum is a dress maker as well and she always wanted me to be a fashion designer, so I've been a part of the fashion world ever since I was born.

Why did you start the brand Innocent World?

Yumi Fujiwara: I was planning to become a designer from a very early age. I went to a fashion school and afterwards worked as a dress maker and designer for other brands and then started my own brand.

Do you have any bad memories from starting your own brand, things that were hard at first?

Yumi Fujiwara: At first it was quite hard actually. I started Innocent World 15 years ago when there weren't many lolitas in Japan and it wasn't a popular fashion, so I didn't have many customers. Also, because it is a kind of weird fashion, no place wanted to produce my clothes and I didn't have a place where to sell them.

What did you think when you first saw that another brand had done a replica of one of your designs?

Yumi Fujiwara: I was very surprised. I think it's OK if they look at my designs and take some inspiration from them, but I would prefer if all the other brands would try to contribute their own originality as well.

What do you think the future holds for lolita?

Yumi Fujiwara: Lolita fashion will become even bigger; it will spread and take over the world! (laughter and applause)

What do you do before travelling around Europe? Do you make any preparations?

Yumi Fujiwara: I don't take part in tours. I take my time to research and look at a lot of guide books. Then, if I see a pretty picture of a place I want to go to I do all the preparations by myself.

We have seven minutes left. Are there are any questions from the audience now?

I'd like to know if you could make a Schloss Neuschwanstein print? (laughter)

Yumi Fujiwara: Actually, I really like Schloss Neuschwanstein. I have already been there and I'd definitely like to make a print one day. (applause)

Do you have a favourite design that you're really proud and are happy to have created?

Yumi Fujiwara: To be honest, I really, really like the dresses I design myself, so I can't really decide which one I like best. Every time I decide on a new one I wear a different print every day to try them out. (laughter)

Are you the only designer at Innocent World or do you have a team of assistants to help you?

Yumi Fujiwara: I do the basic work of every design, but since there are so many I can't really do all of them, so I have a number of assistants who help me to create the designs according to the world inside my head.

Do you remember all your designs?

Yumi Fujiwara: Yes, even a small ribbon I designed 15 years ago.

Are you friends with any designers from other brands?

Yumi Fujiwara: (embarrassed) Rather than saying that I don't have any friends among other designers, I'll just say that I'm very shy. (laughs nervously)

Thank you very much! (applause)

JaME would like to thank Lolita-Fashion Österreich for making this transcript possible.
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The questions and answers of the Q&A have been transcribed as faithfully as possible. Should we have misunderstood or omitted any details we apologise.
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