Sorry Thanks I Love You
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Tsumori Chisato

Tsumori Chisato

It seems impossible. 

Tsumori Chisato is a designer who embellishes silk dresses with hypercolour manga. Her graphics of choice are animals, stars, flowers, hearts and children. She is a lover of sequins, sparkle and the feather fringe.  She is cat-obsessed, loves Mickey Mouse and will tell anyone who’ll listen that she hates cockroaches.

She’s the fashion world’s Peter Pan – yet somehow she has become one of the most serious and most highly-esteemed fashion designers to come out of Japan since her former employer and mentor Issey Miyake.

How can it be?

“I always say originality is the key in design,” says Tsumori. “It’s not about copying other designers. Going back to basics and keeping things original is what’s important.”

And Tsumori Chisato is the queen of originality.

A graduate of the it-college of Japan, Bunka Fashion College, (the same renowned institution in Tokyo responsible for the likes of Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe), Tsumori Chisato was recruited by Issey Miyak, in 1977 and became head of the brand’s biggest-selling line: Issey Miyake Sports.

“The main thing I learned was that team work is very important and creativity is very important,” says Tsumori. “[Issey] says women tend to focus on details, but he told me to see the big picture.”

By 1990, Mr Miyake had convinced Tsumori Chisato to start her own label – and it couldn’t be more different than the minimalist, conceptual work of her mentor.

“I was supported by Issey Miyake so even for my brand there was no limit,” she says. “I didn’t have a real plan, I was just doing whatever I wanted to; I felt like what I was doing was right and that’s it. Nothing was planned, really!”

The non-plan worked. By 1999 Tsumori had opened her first international store and her work was being presented at Fashion Week in Paris – a city she now travels to six times per year.

Tsumori is the third daughter from a family of six children, and she said there was noise everywhere in their family home.  While Tsumori says she is inspired to a degree by her childhood (the same colour, playfulness and the odd handmade flower crown are all seen from collection to collection), it’s her travels that are often the catalyst for a collection or motif.

Her most recent trip to New Zealand and the Mauritius, for example, heavily informed her most recent collection. (Think dodo-covered shirt dresses, and frilly, Kiwi-esque feathered sleeves.)  As a lover of rock formations and wild landscapes, Australia is also one of her favourite places.  

But no matter which country or adventure or inspires it, her work is consistently described as light-hearted, playful and fun - or kooky and over-the-top, depending on whose team you’re on. 

In a country where black, serious silhouettes and neutrals are de rigeur, it’s encouraging to see work like Tsumori’s embraced in Paris.  But, unsurprisingly, she’s found even more success across Asia – particularly in Singapore.

And now, for the first time ever, her work is available in Sydney at Sorry Thanks I Love You. Since the doors opened on Sorry Thanks I Love You’s new apparel collection only a few weeks ago, many highlights from her AW18 collection have already sold out.

“Even though I’m a woman of a certain age, on the inside I feel like a young girl and for that reason I like wearing clothes which are a bit ‘naïve’,” says Tsumori.

“Japanese fashion can be a little childish but colorful compared to other countries… I think it's joyful. I hope I create fashion in this way, but for adults to wear.” 

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Check out Tsumori Chisato’s collection online now or in store at:

Sorry Thanks I Love You
Ground floor, No 5 Martin Place (enter via 120 Pitt Street)
Sydney