Meet Tokyo Hat Designer Honoyo Imai

Meet Tokyo Hat Designer Honoyo Imai


My mother is a fashion designer… and my father is an architect. So I was born in an artists’ family. My parents all the time told me that if you
want something… just make it by yourself. So, making things is really my lifestyle. I’m only child, so I don’t have any brother or sister and I’m a girl, so if I want to survive in this world I need energy to do something. So, my parents pushed me to do sports. I had talent [for] ski[ing]… so, I became a professional skier. I joined the Japanese national team. This is the Deco Collection. I used the basic shape of the hat, and then I use metal pieces and different colors. Like pink. Everything I did, I did my best because parents all the time said if you start something you have to be number one. So, I just did what my parents said. I went to fashion school in Japan. It is a really typical Japanese fashion school… The education was really strict, and I didn’t have time to sleep. I had lots of homework. So, it’s really really hard for me. At the time my mother told me, I think you should stop going to that school. Then, I think you need to learn English first. Then, choose your future. So, I stopped going to fashion school and I went to London. I went to Oxford first, because my parents thought that if I went to London, I’m gonna play… You know, I’m not going to study at all. I went to language school for one year. And then, another collection is called the Hands Collection. I wanted to put hands on my head. Like black, and then orange… Every single week I went to London. I had the chance to go and see musicals and plays in the theater. And it was amazing when I compare it with Japan. It was really really professional. Like, the costume, the set design, playing, singing, dancing… Everything was really professional. I found a course at Central Saint Martins [College of Art and Design] The theater design course. Then I applied and I got it. I studied costume and lighting and stage setting and how to perform as well. So, I could study everything which was connected to the theater. So, I could see everything of the theater. But, I decided to go back to Japan. Because I’m only child, and I was a bit worried about my parents. The Japanese and UK theater has big differences. So, it was impossible to find a job in Japan. My friends started a fashion label called Jazz Katze so I started to help. Mainly I did accessory design. So, I designed head wear… or a necklace… or some decoration. I had a chance to move to Kyoto –Kyoto is an old city in Japan– because of my parents’ job. So, I moved there. Suddenly, I found a notice! “Hat Making School – Students Wanted” I don’t know why, but I thought that Oh My God, this is my way. This is what I want to do. OK, I want to be a hat designer. Then, I called them. So, this is how I met hat making. My “Around Head” collection. This collection came from… I wanted to [create] triangles, squares and [circles]. This is a triangle. With different colors… The teacher was an around 60 to 70 years old man. He was amazing, really. He’s quite famous in Japan. I studied there for about 4 to 6 months. Something like that. I applied for a competition, called The Hat Designer of the Year, which is held in Paris every single year. I won… I won the competition! Suddenly. I don’t know how come. It was a big surprise for me. I went to Paris and I got the prize… and a lot of magazines had interviews. So, I didn’t make my own brand. I just won the competition so, automatically, the honoyo label comes up. Now, I sell my collection on the internet… and, of course I do “order making” as well… and, then I lease as well. So, some singers or “talents” wear my head wear for music videos or TV shows. When I want to get imagination… I just go around by bicycle… just to feel the air, the sounds, the people, and everything. I don’t want to be called a hat designer. Because a hat is just a hat. For example, a sun hat… or a sports hat… or a chapeau hat, whatever. So, I want to expand my creations. So, it doesn’t matter what the shape is… or it doesn’t matter how it works. or what materials [are used]. I use metal, or resin, or plastic… I design mainly for myself… I don’t know why, but… I’m always making something and try it on by… on myself… My difficulty and the wall [I run into] is the business side. Because, for me, I’m kind of an artist… So, I make what I want to make… So, sometimes, it is a bit different between the customer and then the creator. That gap… is the biggest problem… in my life, I guess! And then, and then, and then…. Ah, I forgot to say that this is for sale… Fuuuu… OK!


12 thoughts on “Meet Tokyo Hat Designer Honoyo Imai

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *