We had the good fortune of connecting with Pio Okada and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pio, why did you pursue a creative career?
To express myself without needing to use words. Struggling with social anxiety and being a foreigner in a new country has led me to multiple situations where communication through words was just impossible. Despite struggling with socializing and having a language barrier, the choice on how I dressed myself was there for me everyday. After realizing how much my interest in fashion had helped me grow strong mentally despite the many obstacles, I decided to pursue a creative career in fashion design with hopes of creating clothes that bring strength and happiness to others.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have dreamt of becoming a fashion designer for years but it hasn’t been a straight road to reach this point. I am currently developing my brand “Tabesugita” with a capsule collection releasing in a few months but the last 5 years have been full of obstacles and unwanted pauses from things like moving to a new country not knowing the language and struggling with mental illness. Most notably, after waiting for years to graduate uni and finally go to school for fashion design, my unstable mental state forced me to make the difficult decision of dropping out to take a break. It seemed like my body was telling me that my dream career was impossible for me, and I had given up all hope. But it was during this time of rest that I was given the opportunity to become a partner in a manufacturing startup, House, and start my brand with them. Although there were many moments like this where my dream to become a fashion designer seemed to be impossible to reach, these difficult decisions and changes were what led me to where I am now.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
After moving across the world to Tokyo, it has taken me years to finally find my favorite spots. If a friend came to visit the first thing I would do is take them cafe hopping to hidden gems, like the Udagawa Suite in Shibuya, to catch up over a cup of coffee. Then I would take them to thrift shops in the backstreets of Harajuku as well as my favorite select shop, The Four Eyed, where both the workers and customers are always interesting. After a visit to a local shrine or temple, and a quick purikura stop, I would end the day watching the sunset from the top of the PARCO building in Shibuya. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The reason I am now developing my brand, Tabesugita, with the manufacturing startup, House, is mostly thanks to Jackson. Years ago, he took a chance on me when I knew nothing about fashion design and became my mentor. From teaching me sewing basics to giving me insight into the fashion industry, and even life advice, he became a source of not only information but also motivation. Jackson soon became someone I admire dearly, and now he is my friend and business partner.
Photographers: Takuma Kagawa Hinako Takei Audrey Gretz