What is fashion? I wanted to ask this simple question with many many answers to those who have been in touch with fashion and still are.

The first person to answer my question is designer Yoshikazu Yamagata. He was born in Tottori prefecture in 1980. He graduated with honors from Central Saint Martins in 2005. He returned to Japan after working as an assistant to John Galliano and then launched his brand writtenafterwards in April 2007. Last year, he organized the “Zetsumei ten” with designer Mikio Sakabe. He also hosts the private fashion school “Coconogacco,” which allows young creators to learn expression through fashion. His unique designs differ from those seen on the runways and fashion magazines.

- When was the first time you became fashion conscious?

It began with an interest in dressing up. I was in junior high school. It’s similar to becoming conscious of the opposite sex. It came gradually. I began to really think about fashion when I read a book written by Kiyokazu Washida. I realized how profound fashion is, and that is when I began to consider making it my lifework. From there, I just became more and more involved.

- How do you maintain the balance between the real clothes we wear on a daily basis vs. creations of art?

I’m not very good at balancing things. These couple of years, my focus has been on creating art. But recently, I’ve come to think that I can find some way to balance the two. I’m keen on designing real clothes too.

- What triggered this recent change?

In 2012, I presented a show under the theme “Seven Lucky Gods.” I put a lot of time and effort into this show. I wanted to express everything that I had to offer and clear my mind. The show paid off, and I was able to develop new relationships with people and expand my horizons. I think that now, I have a clear mind to concentrate on creating real clothes.

- Your creations question the norm of fashion. Why do you take this approach?

When people say that something is unnecessary, I really think about it and consider whether that really is the case. I like to express this in my creations.

- Where do you get your energy from?

At first, my insecurities pushed me to work hard. I didn’t want people to judge me or think I was unimportant. This was just the beginning though. What keeps me going now is my passion. When I am engrossed in something, I can’t stop. I just want people to see the beauty of fashion, and this gives me the energy that I need.

To be continued into 2/2.