Meet designer Masato Jones launching his vibrant Japanese-inspired prints in Leeds boutique
Designer Masato Jones has showcased his collections at fashion weeks across the UK, but he's chosen Leeds as the home of his new flagship boutique.
Masato grew up near Tokyo and launched his label in 2011 after graduating from the prestigious London fashion school Central Saint Martins.
His designs are a roar of colour, with graphic prints, Japanese-inspired designs and bespoke tailoring.
The new store opened in Thornton's Arcade in May, offering men's and women's clothing, accessories and homeware.
“Yorkshire is still my idea of a traditional England - the histories and nature and greenery," Masato, 42, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"We’ve been to Manchester and Liverpool and they’re lovely, but I feel more comfortable here, it’s something I find inspirational.
“Leeds is quite compact, which I like. There’s the feeling of being in a village, but you have everything here.
“We’ve been planning this for a long time and we wanted to open as everything is starting to move again.”
Thornton's Arcade is steeped in history and full of other independent shops and cafes, making it the perfect location for Masato's new store.
Clients can expect a warm welcome when they step through the doors of his boutique and clothes can be fitted to order.
“It has been quiet, but I think people are starting to come out bit-by-bit," Masato added.
“We try to be more than retail. People get our style and they want a little bit more - whether it’s more colour or different styles with a connection to it. It’s a small shop but it’s full up inside."
Word is spreading quickly about the new boutique and Masato has enjoyed getting to know his new clientele in Leeds.
"Because I have a tailors upstairs, I can make the clothes fit well and the service is personal," he said.
"It goes back to how fashion used to be, when tailors in Paris, the US or even the UK made couture pieces for ladies and gentlemen. But we’re not charging that much, it’s affordable, and it’s nice to have that feeling back.
"It makes people appreciate the product a little bit more.”
Masato's vibrant designs are inspired by his formative years in Japan, where he would spend nights in Tokyo with friends.
“It’s important to keep your personality," he added.
"When I first came here I wanted to be like English designers, but now I like to keep the Japanese influence.
"If you look at traditional Japanese paintings or kimonos, or animations and Manga, I’ve grown up with all these colourful images - a world of colour.
"Even in Tokyo there is neon advertising everywhere, I was surrounded by that in my childhood.”
It's a difficult time to own a small business in the pandemic and Masato is looking to work with other designers and artists in Leeds, showcasing their work in his shop.
"As independents, it’s often difficult to promote ourselves," Masato said.
“The best way [to support independents] is to come in and let us tell our story. When customers like it, they tell their friends and people they know. We are building those relationships with a deeper, more personal touch to the service."
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