A designer womens label by Masayo Yasuki
An exclusive interview with Brisbane-based fashion designer Masayo Yasuki – founder of Dogstar fashion label.
See Dogstar fashion collections here – Dogstar Clothing
View the official Dogstar website and online shop here
Q1) Please introduce yourself Masayo and tell us about your background (i.e. ancestry, training etc)? How did the dogstar label begin?
I was born in Fukui, Japan and moved to Australia in 1991 to study. In 1998 while completing a marketing degree at QUT I started to export Australian clothes to Japan on a small scale, just to make money while at university.
A large Japanese fashion company put through a big order and asked if I could improve the quality slightly, but my Melbourne supplier was unwilling or unable as they’d positioned the for mass production.
So I decided to fill the Japanese order with my own designs meeting my client’s standards.
I ordered some fabric and then sourced a pattern maker and manufacturer from the Yellow Pages. The only problem was, by the time my production was finished and sent, the order was about three weeks late. Fashion in Japan is very organised and strictly structured, and their deadline was absolute. As a result I was left with a lot of stock sitting on the wharves in Tokyo.
The designs and fabrics were very trend based, so I absolutely had to capture that season’s market. I spent many weeks in Japan selling as much as I could. The rest I eventually sold at the Southbank, Riverside and Valley markets in Brisbane, during the Australian season. The clothes sold well so I continually made more. In many ways the markets created dogstar. The markets enabled me to evaluate fit and the way people interact with clothes, this in turn made it possible for me to design specific for my chosen niche, the dogstar customer! I developed a style of clothing that could be worn in multiple ways; vests and aprons that were reversible, with plain black fabric on one side and a print on the other.
It was my final year of university and I gave myself until the end of the year to find a job in fashion; otherwise I would have to take a job in marketing. A store became available on Ann Street in Fortitude Valley, so I took a deep breath and with some trepidation, the shop. During three formative years, I worked with outstanding Japanese fashion lecturer Akiko Kataoka to develop the current ‘dogstar look’. Today we still have the original Valley store, along with another two in Brisbane (and a fourth to open in May), currently also stocking about 75 stores across Australia and NZ, and plans to open stores interstate.
Q2) What can we expect from dogstar in the coming collections?
We have some exciting collaborations planned with architects, photographers, musicians and visual artists that will appear in designs through screen printing, structure and the overall inspiration and ‘mood’ of the collections.
As always, there will be an element in the designs that is influenced by my Japanese heritage. If you look at the Japanese kimono, it is not sexy or revealing. In the same way, our clothes aren’t sexy or stereotypically glamorous. dogstar fashion isn’t about exposing; it’s what you don’t see that creates individual beauty.
From a production point of view, the fashion market is moving very quickly, and consumers want ‘the next thing’ with greater urgency than in the past, so we will be creating smaller, more regular collections to fulfill this need.
Q3) What do you hope to accomplish with your fashion label? What is the dream!?
We are working on defining dogstar’s one, single promise to the consumer. I have a clear image of who we are and my goal is to permeate each collection with this identity. The label has grown quite quickly in recent years and something I still continue to work on is our brand identity. Dogstar women are very creative people that have an appreciation of design and function working in synchronicity. Some people see dogstar as having a very edgy look, but I hope more women can discover it, and in doing so realise that there is another way of wearing and styling that allows them to find themselves through expressing their creativity and individuality.
From a business perspective, balance between work and lifestyle is a big focus. Personally, I want my team and myself to feel passionate and excited about coming to work each day and have our work sit well in our personal lifestyles. That comes through in our creativity and ability to design well.
Q4) Who are your favourite fashion designers and what about them inspires you? What else inspires you?
Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons are my favourite labels. Both are incredibly artistic, and each collection brings a surprise; you can see the creative energy in each outfit. . You can see how they have challenged themselves with each collection, and created it with such high attention to quality. Each element is so well thought; there are no aspects of poor design. Each piece is like a piece of art, however it is also extremely comfortable. Whenever I see their new collections, I always get goose bumps.
Q5) If you could pick someone famous that best represents your labels style, who would it be? Alternatively, what famous person/s would you want wearing your label?
Q6) Complete the following sentence: Dogstar clothing is unique because...
it doesn’t conform to stereotypical perceptions of beauty. Beauty is within the person and design, combined. The customer collaborates with us; we create the garment, and they create the look. I never fail to be surprised at the ways in which women create completely different looks from a single one of our designs depending on how they wear it.