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10 questions for Sayaka Toyama

Name: Sayaka Toyama

Daily work: At my desk, emailing, in Zoom Meetings, occasionally indigo dyeing and fun traveling

Who are you and what are you doing within the (denim) industry?

My name is Sayaka Toyama. I am the founder of Curious Corners, an organization that works as a bridge between Japan and US/Europe. I assist Japanese artisans and textile mills with promoting their crafts to audiences outside Japan. I also work with US/Europe brands seeking handmade, one-of-a-kind materials made in Japan.

What are you currently working on?

One of my current projects is working with REKROW. It’s a project based in Hiroshima, the center of denim manufacturing in Japan. REKROW collects denim workwear from a local shipbuilding company. The workwear is washed and deconstructed into parts, then patched together making a flat fabric which can be used for new projects. I am their representative in the US.

I’m also working to expand the market for Yamato Indigo Dye, with the natural-indigo dye kits I developed with a Japanese manufacturer. An exciting new collaboration will be released in 2022!

What is the biggest achievement so far in your career?

Surviving in NYC to this day.

What is/are your favorite denim brand(s), and why?

Kapital, 45 RPM, Junya Watanabe. They fit me well.

What is your favorite denim store, and why?

Transnomadica, the showroom of Maurizio Donadi’s epic vintage collection. I recently picked up a vintage pair of Studio D’Artisan there and am absolutely loving it.

What do you think we can expect in the (near) future of denim developments as it comes to sustainability?

The owner of a denim mill in Japan once told me he believes what’s most sustainable is buying any pair of denim pants and wear them for ten years, rather than buying 10 pairs made of “sustainable” fabric. I believe what’s next is to focus on making less and consuming less.

We must save this word “sustainability” from being another empty marketing term. Consumers shouldn’t make sustainable choices because the goods are simply promoted as sustainable. I believe we (people in the industry) should be more aware and knowledgeable about what truly makes materials, certain goods and the system itself genuinely sustainable and share this with consumers.

What is the most valuable lesson your have learned during your work?

I don’t always have to listen to others.

If you could be someone else for one day, who would you be, and why?

I’d love to be a member of Wes Anderson's team, to observe how he works/thinks.

Can you describe your ultimate pair of jeans?

A Pair with holes and fades I made by myself.

Do you have a life slogan, or one that inspires you?

There is a Chinese proverb we use in Japan: Blue comes from indigo (plants) and bluer than indigo. Meaning students/proteges and successors can be even better than their masters/originators.

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