Designer Kota Okuda’s creative process is unlike any other: instead of starting at a fabric store, Okuda went straight to the bank and exchanged $1 dollar bills for pennies. Then for his first-ever runway show, Okuda became an internet sensation overnight for throwing money down the runway – literally.
During his New York Fashion Week debut, the Japanese designer explored the connection between commerce and artistry by playing with the concept of American currency and signifiers of wealth — models walked in exaggerated money clips and wallets designed in an innovative mix of fabrics, metals, and acrylic, for a show-stopping presentation. Okuda describes his collection as “Shallow but, deep,” and flaunted oversized $1 printed paper bills as dresses, laser-cut and engraved plastic bills for shoes, and cut-out dime and penny bras.
One of 15 graduates of Parsons New School of Design’s recent MFA program, Okuda has developed a fast but fiercely loyal following even catching the eye of Young Money herself, Nicki Minaj. Minaj reached out with a direct “I need it” to one of his over the top designs. Okuda asked when, and she quickly replied, “now” — and no one keeps Ms. Minaj waiting.
But Okuda isn’t surprised by the response. This collection is a direct commentary on commercialism and the question of value. Okuda pulls inspiration from Karl Marx’s critique of “commodity fetishism” and the perception of the social relationships involving the economic relationships among money and commodities exchange in the market. Currency as a concept is almost ironic in the sense that money is the bridge between wanting and owning something, and money literally makes the world go round. Yet, we take for granted the significance of this everyday but essential item. “Stupid, useless and meaningless actions are sometimes a very inspirational and creative process for me,” says Okuda, “my twisted aesthetic point of view paired with my tongue in cheek sense of humor open appreciation to new phenomenon’s.”
Since his childhood, Okuda has been infatuated with coin collecting and this inspired the beginning of his career when he started dabbling in jewelry design. After receiving a BA from the University of the Arts in London, Okuda incorporated jewelry throughout his collection. Fashion was the inevitable next step when he started thinking about the entire body, which led to this debut collection. “I’m a very crafty person, and this is what I am good at and the reason why I wanted to further my education beyond jewelry making.”
The result? An eye-catching collection that goes beyond the superficial impressions it imposes.