Welcome to HITOKOO website and blog.
I am Hitoko Okada, a Hamilton-based clothing and accessories designer and craft artisan. I create an unique line of clothing and accessories in small run production. From concept to final product, I solely craft each piece every step of the way. I use only high quality natural fabrics including sustainable bamboo fabrics. In the spirit of my kimono making ancestral heritage, I focus on attention to detail, and quality craft execution, to create beautiful, functional, and meaningful products and experiences to my clients.
My early experiences as a child actor for stage and television, and as a youth influenced by Tokyo street fashion, my experience of character transformation through costume and observations of personal expression through clothing had made a profound impression on me. In one of my first jobs, I had worked for a master milliner, from whom I further learned the power of communication through accessory. Later, I moved on to make costumes and props with a Vancouver public arts and theatre company as I concurrently pursued college academics, where I began to explore textile craft and sculpture as an expression of anti-oppression social activism. These early engagements with clothing and costume and craft carry on to inform my practise.
I moved to Toronto, completed a fashion design diploma at The International Academy of Technology and Design, and continued to work in the local fashion industry and as a costumer in theatre across Southern Ontario at venues including The Stratford Festival, The Grand Theatre in London and Mirvish Productions in Toronto. Throughout this time I continued to build on my textile art, exhibiting in various Toronto galleries such as the Harbourfront Gallery, The Department Gallery, The Gladstone Hotel and The Print Studio in Hamilton. In addition I exhibited clothing inspired installations in public outdoor art festivals such as Luminato and Nuit Blanche in Toronto and Illuminares in Vancouver.
In 2009, I began shifting focus towards self-employment and business creation as a form of personal expression, and launched Bling! as my first series of clothing as art produced under the label HITOKOO.