Takuya Angel: Real Japanese Fashion

Takuya Sawada

Takuya Sawada launched Takuya Angel to create something truly Japanese. He succeeded.

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The 1995 earthquake that devastated Kobe and environs destroyed something inside fashion designer Takuya Sawada (1967) as well.

“It was an incredible shock. Western-style buildings and even highways came tumbling down. I thought ‘wow, concrete is really brittle’,” says Takuya Sawada. “Everything I believed in was demolished. It shattered something inside me too.” Just as he describes the pain he felt at the time, RINGO Shina’s ‘Odaijini’ (‘Get well soon’) plays in the background. We both laugh at the coincidence.

It may have been this experience of the Kobe Quake that inspired Sawada to look for inspiration in Japan’s past. “Since the end of WW II only Western fashion has entered Japan. Japanese love to import things. They have a policy of having no policy.” Sawada wanted to bring Japan back into fashion. “I wanted to create something new. I always thought it would be wonderful if everybody wore kimono. I figured it should be possible to combine clothes from the Jomon Era (10,000 BC ~ 300 AD) with those of modern times. There was nothing like that. I myself wanted to wear things like that.”

Imagining the Impossible

So only months after the terrible quake, at 28 years old, Sawada started his own shop and brand: Takuya Angel. The brand is a wonderful mix of old and new, East and West, fake and real. Bright colors combined with somber black. Material like Cupra (Cuprammonium Rayon) combined with cotton twill. Sawada is not inhibited by what is right and what is wrong and what can and cannot be done. He is 100% self taught and as matter of policy leaves all pattern-making to someone else. “I draw the forms I imagine and let another person do the patterning. I just decide the shape and colors. I’m afraid that if I study patterning I may just think ‘this is impossible’.”

Sawada’s inspiration still comes when he least expects it. “Akiko,” he looks at his wife at his side, “likes kimono a lot, so that gave me the idea to use kimono. Often she gives me some vague idea of the kind of thing she likes. If I think about it for a while, and then it suddenly comes out. Just as we are talking a pattern may spring to live inside me.” The moment that happens Sawada is in a different world and the shapes evolve as by magic.

Takuya Angel Fashion

One Stone, Two Birds

Many of Takuya Angel designs are inspired by clothes that Samurai wore in ancient times. Sawada deliberately uses the Japanese terms: ‘hitatare, haori, hakama, kyahan, geta’. It is quite a departure from the modern Japanese habit to give an English moniker to everything that must appear new. Even if there is a good Japanese word for it. Sawada never makes these ancient clothes exactly as they were. He adapts the shape to the needs of modern life, and uses modern materials whenever possible: cupra, polyester, gabardine, velvet, fake fur. Often he incorporates parts of antique kimono in his clothes. This means that almost every item is different, because it is impossible to find more than one kimono of exactly the same design. He also lets himself be inspired by anime and manga. He is crazy about Japan’s transforming robots and has applied that to his clothes: a t-shirt that can be with sleeves, with half-sleeves or without sleeves; a skirt that can also function as a coat; leg warmers that can also be used as a cape, or as a mini hakama. Sawada calls these designs “one-stone-two-birds-clothes” and they are wonderfully playful.

Takuya Angel Fashion

You Are What You Wear

Takuya Angel now consists of two shops with revenues of JPY 30 million a year. It is a tiny brand, but Takuya Angel has an impact that goes far beyond its actual size. If you have seen Sawada’s clothes once you never forget them. The people who wear them, don’t just wear them, they worship them. It brings something alive in them that they didn’t even know existed. “Fashion is like a business card,” explains Sawada. “Just by looking at someone’s clothes you can understand a lot. What kind of work they do, what kind of music they like, what kind of food they eat.” He doesn’t dare to explain what his clothes say about the people who wear them.

Know Yourself

Soon he returns to his main theme. “I want Japanese to have more confidence in themselves. I want them to study their own roots. I believe that is the way to learn about yourself. Roots matter. People can’t see the future. But the past we can see. If Japanese can see where they have come from, what kind of history they have had, they will slowly be able to see where they should be going from now on.”

hitatare – a kind of shirt worn by samurai
haori – a sort of coat
hakama – a divided skirt that looks like pants
kyahan – leg warmers
geta – wooden clogs

Official site

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

Please sent me everything ‘bout japanese fashion because its very interesting for me…So nice, and beautiful
May 11, 2005 (6779 days ago)
can I buy that jacket how much is it $50, $100,$150! I want it, please send me something so I can buy that jacket.
May 14, 2005 (6776 days ago)
takuya is the most brilliant designer. the combination of contemporary and traditional designs are amazing! the first time i saw it was in the Fruits book, and it’s true, i never forgot it. its’ stunning and impossibly beautiful! i wish i lived in japan.
May 25, 2005 (6765 days ago)
hi! my name is my la, iam year 10 and i have a project, that do with the Japan teenagers fashion clothes, so i hope you can give me some ideas or imagers could helping me.thank you very much!
my la chea
Jun 21, 2005 (6738 days ago)
konnichiwa.. watashi naomi desu.
i really like japanese fashion style. especially modern kimono style match with jeans. i hope takuya will make that. if takuya would, please sent to me the picture of his new designed. thanks a lot!!!
Jun 23, 2005 (6736 days ago)
Hey! I love your fashion, it’s great. I hope you can keep me updated with what you come up with because I like you style. (I’m obsessed with japan really)
Jun 30, 2005 (6729 days ago)
I am going in to fashion design when i choose my options. Most of my work is Japan inspired. I LOVE your cloves you are my idol! I wish i lived in Tokyo so i could by your clothes often, But i live in England and i hope to bring a more original fashion culture here because at the moment i stand out. But i LOVE to stand out!!!
Shinku Cho
Jul 14, 2005 (6715 days ago)
Does he have an online store?
Leann Yin
Nov 8, 2005 (6597 days ago)
Yes, but it is all in Japanese… We have been planning to sell his clothes, but setting it up is taking a lot more time than we originally expected. Keep tuned!
Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 8, 2005 (6597 days ago)
I visited the store in Tokyo last May and someone asked me if the person who was in the store was Takuya Sawada, but I wasn’t sure because I thought he lived in Osaka. Does anyone konw if he has a brother who runs his store in Tokyo?
He was very nice and took my picture so I took his. (See link by clicking on my name)

I too would love to buy online as I’m in the U.S. Neko-chan geta ga hoshii desu.
Nov 15, 2005 (6590 days ago)
That is Takuya himself, B-chan. He IS very nice, isn’t he? Takuya lives in Nara, and the main shop is in Osaka, but he spends most of his time in Tokyo.
Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 15, 2005 (6590 days ago)
hEllo im thailand ypur fashion is beaty Bye
Nov 17, 2005 (6588 days ago)
Konichi wa and Hajimemashite!!
I’m totally in love with Japanese street fashion. and i noticed that in both Fruits books everyone wears alot of Takuya Angel things. i wandered what it was about so i googled it and found this site. its so cool. i love traditional japanese dress and i really love some of the things i’ve seen. Hopefully i’ll be going to Harajuku sometime next year so i’ll be able to buy some of Takuyas stuff.
this is just a comment to say it’s amazing!
Jan 27, 2006 (6518 days ago)
Hello, I really like the pictures.I’m going to Nipon in 10 days. ;) from march 23rd to april 10th! Wish me luck! FIRST TIMER! This should be awesome. I should be staying in Shinmaruko! ( in kawasaki) AWESOME SUGOI!>___<

ja matte!
Mar 13, 2006 (6472 days ago)
ur clothes r so cute! but since iliv in leb we dnt hav any stores like tht here . itsok chaw amigoo
Mar 30, 2006 (6456 days ago)
dude wow i love your jacket is there anywhere i can order a catalogue or something or just a place where i can order that jacket lol seriously i love it
May 28, 2006 (6397 days ago)
this stufff is like tha maddest ever n no1 else will hav it yeah!! thats tha look i go 4 individuality rocks n i think every 1 shud go wit that …plz email me new designs n stuff theyre inspiring seriously!!! i went on this site coz i hav an assignment on chinese/japanese ancient fashion nd i hav 2 design my own tshirt it like kimono style its mad!! i wills end u a pic so u can c it… only if u want ok email me xox
Jul 10, 2006 (6354 days ago)
u guys rok my sox its sooo uniqe snd me pictures of new stuff ok i luv it i want soooo bad this is wat australia needs im 14 and i love beign differnt nd unexpected its fun i love u guyds xoxoxo mwah mwah mwah
hanni babe from oz!!
Jul 10, 2006 (6354 days ago)
Hi there,
I really like Japanese fashion and would like to follow up the fashion news in Japan for a weekly/monthly broader information/update in general. Is there any English magazine, newspaper I can buy?

Jul 18, 2006 (6346 days ago)
As far as I know, this site is pretty much the only source that regularly writes on Japanese fashion. We have been a bit unactive in the past year and a half, but hopefully we will be more active again soon!
Kjeld Duits (author)
Jul 18, 2006 (6346 days ago)
I've been trying to buy clothes from the website because i've got it all translated BUT I have no idea what the conversion rate of american dollars to yen is!! ;__;
Aug 28, 2006 (6305 days ago)

@Brendan: Visit to use their currency converter!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Aug 28, 2006 (6305 days ago)
please. envoy me to cataloge
Aug 30, 2006 (6303 days ago)

Please, please help me. I want to look like a cute little Japanese girl more than anything else in the world. I’ll do ANYTHING…..well….ALMOST anything if you’ll tell me how to make my eyes look super Japanese. My boyfriend woul be sooooo pleased!!! I’ll trade my entire collection of Hello Kitty souveniers for instructions on how to look just like Yuki of the rock & roll group “Judy & Mary”.

Cute Colorful Cathie
Sep 19, 2006 (6283 days ago)

onegai shimas takuya sama!!! help me look more japanese. im part but i barely look it. i want to have the uniforms and everything but sadly they dont have japanese stores in willmar minnesota!!! >_< please help me!! i will do anything... except if it has to do with a lot of money cuz im poor!!! . domo arigatou gozaimasu

Nov 2, 2006 (6239 days ago)

I think i saw him when i was in japan o_o it was just a few months ago, and at that time i didn’t know what takuya angel is. I happened to be at harajuku the day they were having their Takuya Angel parade, along Takeshita Dori. Is this him?
the one next to him is my mom btw xD;;

May 19, 2007 (6041 days ago)

That is Takuya, Kyla. You are quite lucky!

Kjeld Duits (author)
May 19, 2007 (6041 days ago)

This is a great site for handbags – this brand is hugely popular in Japan – I saw so many of them on the street when I was there last year!

May 14, 2008 (5679 days ago)

if only we can wear those kind of clothes here in the phillipinnes…i love to dress like that

kenneth cajote
Jun 15, 2008 (5648 days ago)

hey, i was just looking idea for japanese dress.. for fashion project on the google then i found this website.. i like the western style japanese clothes.. its pretty cool.. i wish i could come to tht shop on tokyo and buy some clothes,, but me in uk….XC

Feb 22, 2009 (5396 days ago)

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