Passion in Fashion // Yoshiko Sugimoto
Promoting Beauty in All Things
Yoshiko Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1957. After graduating from Bunka Fashion College, Yoshiko worked as an apparel designer for an apparel company in Tokyo. In 1988, Yoshiko moved to New York, where she has been working as a fashion journalist since 1989. Yoshiko is the co-author of Japanese American English British English Illustrated Dictionary of Fashion, published by Senken Shimbun CO., LTD. Yoshiko also headed the Fashion Institute of Technology Japanese Student and Alumni Association (FIT JSAA) for 20 years. Additionally, Yoshiko has been writing a column for OurAge website, published by Shueisha, where she introduces self-created recipes for “beauty foods”. Finally, Yoshiko hosts monthly organized social dining experiences in order for participants to share foods and connect with other people.
Iroha : What projects are you currently working on? What have you most recently completed or plan to do in the near future?
Yoshiko : Utilizing my wide network, it is my pleasure to continue connecting people in meaningful ways. My expertise is writing about fashion, fashion business, and retail business, yet whenever I have an opportunity to write about social issues to make industry and society better, I do it. I am currently working on a new column for OurAge. Stay tuned!
Iroha : What are your thoughts regarding Asian glass ceiling issues?
Yoshiko : I am especially concerned about the glass ceiling for women in the fashion industry in Japan. Despite the fact that the majority of customers in the fashion industry are women, the percentage of women in executive positions in fashion remains small. I hope I can contribute to changing this. It is essential to change the mindset of both men and women in Japan in order to make the change.
Iroha : Based on your background, do you have any advice or a message for young people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Yoshiko : I occasionally have opportunities to talk to students, and it is my privilege to inspire young people. My advice is as follows: determine your strength. If you haven’t found your strength, pursue what you love and determine if there is a demand. If you can find something that takes time to accomplish and that most people do not want to do but that you genuinely enjoy doing, that would be the best. You need talent, but money and health are equally important. Do what other people don’t do. Think creatively. Work hard and do more than expected of you from the very beginning, as that makes a difference. Be confident and have guts in negotiations. Try everything without making assumptions about the results. Networking is important. Don’t think too much about what other people have to say, but be ready to take responsibility for your decisions. Be strong emotionally. When things don’t progress as you wish, have many ways to heal yourself. Even if you feel miserable and sad when something fails, when you look back later, you will be glad it happened. You also need to know what makes you feel very unhappy. After all, you are the only person who can heal yourself. Mental health is very important, and it is important to have money to maintain mental health. Having money means that you have freedom and choices.
Iroha : Outside of work, what are you most interested in right now?
Yoshiko : Having and maintaining happy relationships. This can be challenging yet it is the most rewarding and priceless experience when it works out. Discovering different cultures, lifestyles, and values and experiencing nature and good food are my greatest pleasures. These are important opportunities to broaden my horizons. In order to be able to continue doing those activities, I need to be healthy, so I'm also conscious about what to eat, what not to eat, as well as ensuring I get some exercise.