45 years in, what is Josie Natori’s secret?

GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie C. Tagabucba - The Philippine Star
45 years in, what is Josie Natoriâs secret?
Founder and CEO of The Natori Company Josie Nator
STAR/ File

 Lifestyle brands, innerwear-as-outerwear, empowering women with clothes — these are fashion’s biggest buzzwords of the 2020s. But Josie Natori had already created a world with all this and more when she first explored the idea of an embroidered nightshirt that also doubled as a going-out blouse nearly half a century ago.

“Forty-five years later, it is closer to what I envisioned it, dressing up a woman from head to toe, inside out, from underwear to her home,” Natori says during her celebration with her exclusive Philippines home, Rustan’s, which carries her line of fine jewelry and even towels and tablescapes. “For me, Natori is about expressing yourself, embracing your femininity, being comfortable and glamorous 24/7. It gives me pleasure to create something artful.”

Just a touch of any one of Josie Natori’s silky creations transports you to a world of luxury — whether you define it by Eastern intricacy or Western modernity — artful storytelling, and proudly Filipino artisanship.

“Natori makes you feel good about yourself,” says Zenaida “Nedy” R. Tantoco, chairman and CEO of Rustan Group of Companies, who showed up in an all-knit Natori shift and wrap. “The colors and patterns are all bold and happy. That’s why I love Natori. In this collection, I like the zebra prints. ”

United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson marveled at the excellent level of craftsmanship in the Josie Natori Couture line of cocoon silk caftans, handcrafted with gold thread — truly a piece of wearable art.

Iza Calzado gravitated to a leopard-print slip dress. “Pag nanganak na ako,” she thinks out loud, only to be impressed by its bias-cut that can drape over a bump. Heart Evangelista went for a boned bustier that matched Natori’s topper and obi, pleased by the flattering stretch of the piece that traditionally constricts to cinch.

Over champagne, moments before Ballet Philippines took the stage at The Peninsula Conservatory, women — many of them fans of the brand since Natori was first stocked in Rustan’s — were comparing what they had shopped at the pop-up. “Forgiving” is how they described Natori’s clothes. They cocoon like a security blanket while allowing you to shine.

At the show, the dancers leaped to impeccable jetés, showcasing the lustrous sheen and flowy drape, expressing a freedom of movement that can’t be denied.

This milestone is also a testament to the excellence of being Made in the Philippines. “Did you know that the factory didn’t close one day?” Natori says, looking back to the lockdown years, counting her blessings.

With the loungewear and nesting boom, the demand for Natori only strengthened. Her Philippines team set up a dormitory and created a production schedule where their health and safety is priority. “I am very proud of the workers there. There would be no Natori if we didn’t have the workers we’ve had for over 40 years.”

Natori remains privately held and family-owned. Her son Kenneth has been with the business for 16 years and is now president of the company. He has led Natori from being a direct-to-consumer business and growing its partnerships in licensing.

“I’ve always had the vision to build a brand that will live beyond me,” says Natori. “I feel that the best is yet to come”

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Natori is available at Rustan’s Makati and Rustan’s Shangri-La


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