IN Interviews : Wolcott : Takemoto

Joy Wolcott and Natasha Takemoto are a phenomenal duo and a combined force to be reckoned with. One glimpse of their collections and you immediately realize you’ve discovered something special that will incidentally solicit a plethora of compliments for an entire day (true story). We met Wolcott : Takemoto at Man-Woman in 2016 and their quiet aura alone emanated sophistication and complemented their gracefulness. It is hard to believe their brand is only six years old: the attention and delicate precision they apply to every detail of their carefully crafted garments is usually not achieved so young and only adds to Wolcott : Takemoto’s impressive allure. 

What are your earliest memories of meeting each other?
NT: We met briefly in Seattle at the house of a mutual friend but we didn’t really meet until Joy moved to New York and happened to move just a couple blocks away from me! Our mutual friends insisted that we hang out because they knew we would have a lot in common and they were right!

JW: I remember going to Madison Beach one summer day in Seattle and Natasha was there with her friends. I thought she seemed really cool and was definitely someone I would like to be friends with.

Wolcott : Takemoto (WT) is now six years old (congratulations)! What was it like building WT from the ground up? What challenges have you two faced together and apart in making this dream a reality?
NT: Thank you! There have been so many challenges that we’ve faced as an independent small business (how much time do you have?!), but it has been 100% worth it.

JW: Building WT from scratch and looking back every year to see all that we have accomplished makes us incredibly amazed at one another. Just one year before starting WT it wasn’t even my plan to move to New York — so a lot of unimaginable things happened in just a year and a half!

Wolcott : Takemoto Jane Skirt-Pant
Wolcott : Takemoto Kokoro Tank

Can you tell us a little bit about merging Japanese and Western influences in how you two approach your collections from season to season?
NT: It has been so perfect working with Joy because although we come from pretty different backgrounds but still have the same vision for what we want WT to look like each season. We do have a specific theme based on whatever has been inspiring us each season. For FW17, we were inspired by the works of Japanese surrealist photographers, like Shoji Ueda. We created pieces of hidden and unexpected details while keeping with our usual minimal aesthetic. I think inherently, our work will continue to merge both Japanese and Western influences.

JW: I actually grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska so living a simple lifestyle is something I have always been familiar with. It seems only natural for me to be very drawn to minimalist Japanese culture and art as it feels like an evolved version of my childhood.

“THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY CHALLENGES THAT WE’VE FACED AS AN INDEPENDENT SMALL BUSINESS, BUT IT HAS BEEN 100% WORTH IT.”


Everyone has access to everything via social media and the interwebs. Is there internal pressure to stay true to Japanese history and traditional silhouettes in designing your garments?
NT: We definitely don’t approach our designs hoping to make traditional Japanese silhouettes, but I am very flattered that our pieces could be perceived that way! When designing, our main concerns are: is this something that someone will wear for years or decades? Is this something that is totally comfortable and practical? (This is why you’ll find pockets on most of our pieces)

JW: I think it is really important for us to feel as though each collection is inspired and tells a story to everyone who encounters it.

Wolcott : Takemoto Bushi Jumpsuit
Wolcott : Takemoto Kokoro Tank : Cloud

The fashion industry can seem foreign, risky, and unorthodox to those outside the field. How do explain your version of a 9-to-5 to families and friends, not in the know?
NT: I think people can view fashion as this totally glamorous and/or vapid industry, which is so far from the truth. When I explain the actual work to friends and family, they are usually very surprised to hear that there is so much to do behind-the-scenes besides design and shoot lookbooks!

JW: It is definitely an opportunity to educate those closest to us. We are always trying to spread the word about the negative impacts of fast fashion and the worker exploitation involved in cheap clothing.

With whom have you two collaborated? Who would you like to work with in the future as you grow in your success?
NT: We collaborated with our friend, Pakayla Biehn, who is an amazingly talented painter and set-designer for one of our lookbooks a few years ago. She painted a beautiful backdrop of our shoot. We hope to make a custom print using one of her pieces in the future! We would also love to collaborate with a jewelry designer and we have been speaking to our friend Daniela from Arc Objects. There is so much we would love to do, but so little time!

Wolcott : Takemoto Jane Skirt-Pant

We love the inspiration behind naming conventions for each piece in your collection correlating with childhood fashion trends! Natasha: What’s the one thing from your youth that makes you cower in shame for ever wearing in public? Joy: What’s the one article of clothing that you wish you could get back (e.g., either you outgrew, the piece was damaged or lost)?
NT: Oh, where to start! It’s funny because the things that I look back on in shame actually seem to be back in style now that everyone is into the late 90s-early 00s fashion again. This isn’t an article of clothing, but I can’t believe I used to douse myself in with those awful body sprays. I won’t name any names, but I’m sure you guys all know what I’m talking about.

JW: I used to do competitive sewing when I was really young. Instead of going to camp, I would make a small collection of 5-10 pieces of clothing every summer. I sadly don’t have any of those pieces and I would do anything to get them back. Luckily, I do vividly remember every single piece I made in detail so I guess they live on in my memory.

What’s next for WT?
NT: We’re working on SS18 and will hopefully do more pop-ups and events!

JW: The fall collection will be in stores soon and we are very excited about the rich color palette!

Rapid Fire

Karaoke warm-up song?
NT: Int’l Player’s Anthem by UGK

JW: Young Love by the Judds

Signature lipstick color and brand?
JW: I love Sephora’s orange lip stain.

Lesser of two evils: orange Starbursts or peeps marshmallow candy?
NT: DEFINITELY orange Starbursts. I can’t even look at Peeps.

JW: Yeah no Peeps for me either.

Spirit animals?
NT: If I’m being honest, cat.

JW: Poodle

Last time you felt truly Infashuated?
NT: At the Rei Kawakubo exhibit.

JW: Visiting Coqui Coqui resort in Coba, Mexico.

Special thank yous are in order to both Natasha and Joy for taking the time to share their amazing story with us. See more of their latest work and shop our Wolcott : Takemoto collection here!


 

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Alicia Fairclough-Buford

Based in Portland, Ore., Alicia writes and illustrates for Infashuated.com. Follow her on instagram.