Getting to Know Tadashi Shoji


A Tadashi Shoji fashion show is rare treat. It is choreographed and everything is organized with a high degree of execution. Having photographed Mr. Shoji for a number of years, photographer Robert Hicks was honored to photograph the dresses and considered Miss Litvinenko perfect for showing off the art of Mr. Shoji’s designs.

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Hicks sat down with Tadashi Shoji, for an exclusive one-on-one for BELLA, enjoy:

You started your brand in 1982. What was the genesis of the idea that was to become Tadashi Shoji?

My personal story in fashion begins in LA. I moved there from Japan on a whim and it wasn’t until I started junior college that I realized that being a designer was the right path for me. I learned everything from pattern making to draping – which I fell in love with. Draping was like sculpting to me and I finally started to feel like a true artist.

During this time, I was lucky enough to get an assistant position with Bill Whitten designing costumes for icons such as Elton John and The Jacksons and then proceeded to work for the legendary Richard Blackwell. From these experiences, it gave me a foundation to branch out and create my own line.

Who is the Tadashi Shoji customer?

The woman I create for is strong, confident, elegant and modern. She is the everyday woman.

How important is celebrity customers to the marketing of the brand?

The women I have dressed in the past have each put a spotlight on my brand at monumental moments in their careers and lives. Most recently we were able to dress “Big Bang” actress, Kaley Cuoco, who wore one of our jumpsuits to her wedding reception. The images were then picked up by multiple media outlets and immediately we began to see a positive impact on sales.

I also dressed Michelle Obama for the White House State Dinner that honored the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe. You couldn’t ask for more than dressing the First Lady.

Last but not least, I’ve had the pleasure of dressing actress Octavia Spencer the night she won her Academy Award in 2012. That was a memorable start to a partnership that continues to this day.

Although there is a power in celebrity influence because you can expose media at a faster rate, I am a big believer in ensuring every design I create is unique and special to give every woman the confidence, beauty, and elegance she seeks whether she is a celebrity or not.

I read where you have a broad strategy to expand your brand…

At the moment we are focused on our expansion and establishing Tadashi Shoji as a global lifestyle brand. We offer a wide range of product in addition to our ready to wear and kids collection, in the last year we have introduced bridal, handbags, lingerie, shapewear and fragrance categories. On a wider scale, we are working to branch out into additional categories and become a complete global brand with an emphasis on growing our e-commerce presence.

What differentiates Tadashi Shoji the brand from your competition? How would you describe the SHOJI aesthetic?

I am meticulous about fit and spend countless hours ensuring that each piece is impeccably tailored. It is all about playing with illusions and techniques, keeping everything in proportion. Additionally, our signature embroidery and lace-motifs are distinct and recognizable. Digital textiles are created which are then made into fabrics.

The process of sourcing, developing, receiving and modifying the fabrics and embroideries takes at least 6 months. I know my customers want to feel confident and beautiful and they know I can create something that along with being accessibly priced also makes them feel beautiful. This, in addition to the quality and fit, is what makes Tadashi Shoji stand out.


Interview and Photo Credit: Robert Hicks

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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