Noriko Kumagawa, fashion designer, creates a natural look with playful garments in her brand label “koton,” which is named after cotton. She likes cotton fabric best because it is comfortable, simple and natural. She wants to convey those qualities through her garments.

As a fashion designer, she studied design and pattern making at a fashion college and worked for a women’s fashion label in Tokyo for about ten years. Noriko then established her own fashion label koton in 2009 by herself in Aichi prefecture, her hometown.

This modest designer said that she never thought she would establish her own fashion brand. She said that the brand koton was born and that she has been able to continue to make new collections because of people who support her and who like her garments.

She told us that there was a period of two years during which she was recharging, after working with in women’s apparel in Tokyo. She was a bit tired after having a busy life in a busy city. She came back to her hometown in Aichi with no plan but to have some rest. During that time, she tried some new things like hand weaving cotton textiles. While she did not plan to build her own brand, she made her first collection of “koton” bags, thanks to her friends' encouragement, in 2009.

She is particular about fabrics - so much so that she named her brand "koton." She chooses fabric carefully from a weaver in Japan. Noriko said that she only uses natural fibers as they can be returned to the earth. She said selecting good fabric is a very important part of making her garments. She gets design inspiration from fabrics. She either chooses the fabric before designing, or has she starts with a design idea then finds a fabric to express that idea. Either way, finding the right fabric is important aspect of making her collections. 

Noriko also seeks sewing quality. As a small fashion label, it is not easy to produce everything in Japan. She is particular about the made in Japan concept due to its emphasis on quality.

Her approach is to make garments that are comfortable and that relate to your lifestyle. "That is my foundation for making garments," Noriko said. However, she also said that is why she makes garments. There are so many garments already in this world. She continues to make garments because of people who support and enjoy her collections. She said that sometime people comment that she is making garments on her own. But Noriko says, "I strongly feel that I am not making these clothes by myself but that they are made with other people."

Noriko is a very charming woman and makes people comfortable when they are with her. She makes relaxed and comfortable natural garments, just like her own lifestyle.

She said that she wants to cherish day to day life. This means enjoying seasonal changes or seasonal foods, for example. She likes making chestnut and apple stews when they are in season. Those things are not directly related to designing garments, but she realized that it is important for her to be relaxed and happy when she makes garments. She likes to live at her own pace. 

When she enjoys her life more, she enjoys designing more. koton is designed and inspired by Noriko's life style. Her lifestyle is comfortable and relaxed, yet playful.  

View the koton collection