“blurorange” is making men’s size ladies’ clothing.
Since launching in 2017, Tomoyo Blurorange has been developing her brand in her own unique style and receiving accolades from the media. Tomoyo published her book ‘ワンピースで世界を変える’in March 2020 and is aiming for a new challenge… a fashion show overseas in Vancouver, British Columbia this coming fall.
Check out our interview with Tomoyo below, where we dive into the ingenuity of blurorange’s designs, goals and plans for the future.
Tomoyo Blurorange: The designer behind blurorange
Born in Nagasaki, Japan. After graduating from high school, she engaged in hard work, such as sales of expensive men’s formal wear, retail staff for ladies apparel, and also worked at hostess bar to cover her living expenses at the same time. After that she went through some turning points in her life, such as marriage and going to university, and now she operates the apparel brand blurorange under the slogan “Cute gender-free clothes”.
The trigger of launching the brand was her feeling of discomfort with the concept of femininity and masculine that she has felt many times in her life. With the sympathy and support from many people, she continues to grow blurorange today.
June 2017 Launched “blurorange”
October 2017 First crowdfunding success
June 2018 Inaugural fashion show at Tokyo University Yasuda Auditorium
April 2019 Gender free event at major department store
October 2020 Plans to show at Vancouver Fashion Week
LAUNCHING THE BRAND OF BLURORANGE.
Q: Congratulations on the publication of your book, ‘ワンピースで世界を変える’. I really enjoyed it. I was impressed that your brand has grown with the support of so many people, and by your energy to drive it. While reading it, I almost felt as though I was in a Hollywood drama.
A: Thank you so much.
Q: I want to talk to you about the conception of your brand. I read that you grew up more like a tomboy and resonated with male fashion when you were a child. However, through your adolescence, you felt that men’s fashion no longer looked good on you and it made you feel sad. During university, you studied cognitive psychology and gender identity disorder which led to your current brand, bluorange. With this common idea, it is likely to create a brand for women who wish to wear men’s clothes coolly, but why did you come up with the opposite idea?
A: One reason is simply because I felt that designing women’s clothing was fun. Another reason is that there are a lot of women’s brands that are men-like. Or, even if it is men’s clothes, women can put on them by adjusting the size smaller most of the time. However, when men want to wear ladies’ clothes, small ones cannot be adjusted larger, and it is difficult to fix ready-made products. There is almost no ladies fashion for men. Nobody has done it, so I decided to do it.
Q: To challenge something that no one has done before takes so much courage, even more so in business. You referred to the word “niche-strategy” in your book, do you have an idea of what size your niche market is?
A: Honesty, I don’t know the exact numbers. There is some research on the LGBT and so on, but it is impossible to know only from that kind of research. I feel there are needs that cannot be seen. In fact, when I asked men on twitter, “Would you like to wear ladies’ clothes if men can wear without discomfort?”, more than 75% of the men answered “Yes”.
Q: What was the hardest part of getting started?
A: The design. The most difficult part of designing is thinking about “how to make male figure look beautiful”. Also, I struggled to find a factory to outsource manufacturing.
Not just cute. Creating a design that makes men look beautiful.
Q: What are you particular about when designing for blurorange?
A: blurorange’s clothes are not made with the desire for creation which anyone has never seen before. I’d rather design based on actual needs than express my ideas. What trouble they are having with and what kind of design they like. For example, if they want to hide their arm because it looks too muscular, or they cannot wear a cute skirt because they don’t have that buttocks shape, we adopt a design that will meet their needs, specifically tailored to them.
However, the challenging part is taking the balance of designing. For example, they often like very cute designs with lots of frills, but if they wear it with a male figure, the cuteness of the design will make the male figure stand out more. So it’s not just about making cute designs, but also taking care of the boundaries of design that can make the male figure look delicate and beautiful. In order to implement that, I take the technique of optical illusion into the design that I learned in university.
Q: Certainly, I’ve had experiences that even if I found some clothes with cute designs, it sometimes looked strange when I actually wear them. So you mean, the blurorange’s designs are considered carefully to take the best balance between cuteness and the feature which makes the male figure beautiful.
Have you received any feedback from customers since you started selling?
A: Yes, many customers email me with their thoughts after wearing blurorange’s clothing.
“I’ve finally found something that suits me,”
“I’m glad just the fact you made this brand,”
“I saw my mirror and found myself cute for the first time.” etc.
Also, some customers visited our exhibition wearing our clothes. This makes me the happiest and makes me feel that I’m going the right direction with the brand. Customer voices often bring ideas to the brand for our next designs.
Q: Have you wanted to be a designer for a long time?
A: I like fashion. However, I never thought of becoming a fashion designer and I never studied fashion in school. But I think that’s why I could make the current blurorange. If I studied fashion and learned the intricacies of the fashion industry, for example the marketing, business and management side of everything, I wouldn’t have launched blurorange.
Q: Do you think your other experiences are beneficial to bluorange today?
A: I basically prefer to communicate with people, and since I’ve worked in a world where communication with people was considered as the most important skill, I’m making use of it. I go to apparel shops to ask the staff about what kind of design many customers look for recently, or I get to know people who like women’s clothes through Twitter and listen to their real voices. The other advantage of mine is, I would say taking action quickly.
Q: What is your next idea of blurorange?
A: I’m thinking of making “roomwear” next, which in Japanese is clothing you wear at home. These designs are almost done. This will allow people to be able to enjoy roomwear inside their home without worrying about judgement of others. There is a strong demand for this.
ENJOY FASHION BEYOND GENDER BARRIERS.
Q: What are your goals for blurorange in the future?
A: blurorange is aiming to create a world where anyone can enjoy fashion. Fashion is fun but some people feel sad because of gender or size issues. I want to free those people from these concerns. This desire is what blurorange aims to solve.
Q: In the brand’s slogan, there is the wording “gender-free”. What is the difference between “gender-less” and “gender-free”?
A: In my opinion, “gender-less” is close to the image of neutrals or getting rid of genders. On the other hand, “gender-free”, is communicating that it doesn’t matter if the gender is male or female. Instead it means that the individual can enjoy whatever they like beyond gender. That’s the reason I use the word “gender-free”.
Q: I feel that Japanese society has a strong culture that cares about other’s eyes compared to overseas. I wonder if there are some difficulties in achieving a world where men can wear cute clothes that blurorange aims for. What do you think?
A: I agree. In Japan, when people talk about “gender equality”, they tend to focus on women such as “women’s empowerment in society”, but I think it’s more important for men to feel empowered and sense of freedom as well. Men believing that other men “should be masculine” is more apparent than the misconceptions that women face. In fact, women can relatively accept men who dress feminine. Men have a difficult time accepting this notion. I believe that if men are able to wear cute clothes and feel accepted, society would be a more liveable place for everyone.
Q: You are showing your collection with Vancouver Fashion Week is coming up this fall. What are your expectations/goals?
A: We hope to bring brand awareness to this market and show the audience how “beautiful” male models wearing feminine clothing is. Men wearing women’s clothes can sometimes look strange or eccentric, but if you see it just as “beautiful” or “fashionable” without having judgement, you may feel like trying to wear it too. I hope to make that kind of collection as the designer of blurorange.