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Talk: Business Culture @ Tadashi Shoji

Article/Source of Discussion: Teamwork and Transparency at Tadashi Shoji – BoF

I am always interested in the business dynamics and culture behind a creative/design brand because more often than not, this can be an area overlooked. Especially at an age now where diversity is still a problem, one wonders if we should also flip the other side of the coin and look at things differently – the core of the brand: employees. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find this quite recent interview featuring Tadashi Shoji that I feel all Fashion Professionals (including students) should take a look at.

The following may or may not surprise you but Tadashi’s business model is very Japanese despite being based in LA – and I like that. A lot.

The company is very less corporate, and more free or transparent as the article suggests with Tadashi being at the very core…literally. Though I am sure this business culture is not new, it is definitely refreshing to read about it again since the age of 16/17 when I studied Business for some time and learnt about ‘Kaizen’ (Japanese model of always improving).

Tadashi sits in the middle of an office space. There is no sense of hierarchy or some ‘special’ room for a higher member of staff including himself. It’s possible to say he and his employees share the same room and very much draw on ‘team spirit’ where the employees sit, surrounding Tadashi each to their own minus the walls and doors which often act as barriers. The idea is that anyone can, and should feel comfortable in approaching Tadashi because communication is key. No one should feel intimidated by another otherwise the production process wouldn’t work and many ideas would be scrapped, misunderstood or simply not talked about.

It would be a meeting 24/7 but a friendly one that doesn’t condone the voice of the employees, the core of the business who in turn make the designs come true. After all, what is a design without a product?

And honestly, my opinion? It’s a brilliant business model that other brands could learn a thing or two about. It’s very easy for a business to get wrapped up in its reputation and now, social media presence that when the real problems arise, it becomes too difficult to attend to. If there’s one thing I learned from this article, it’s definitely the art of being open-minded and the success that comes with experience and risk-take.


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