The designer shares that she wants to elevate medical wear through a partnership with Care + Wear
Josie Natori says she’s never believed in boundaries. And through her successes in life, from being Merrill Lynch’s first female vice president in corporate finance to her achievements in fashion, she has very well personified these beliefs.
Now, Natori standing up against Asian hate and using her skills to provide medical workers with improved versions of functional medical wear.
Last month, Natori and fellow fashion designers Jason Lam and Andrew Kwon spoke to WWD about the Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) experience in the fashion industry. In the Facebook Live event, they share their experiences as Asians who defied limitations constructed by society and systemic racism.
According to a report by the Stop Asian Hate movement more racism-tinged acts of violence are occurring. Because of this, young creatives may be discouraged from using their heritage to inspire their works.
However, the Natori wants to set an example and keep using Asian themes in her pieces. “The culture of where we come from is amazing,” the 74-year-old says. “To me, it’s so enriching to be inspired by it and bring it to life.”
Although she carries on with using her cultural background as the foundation of her design process, Natori is cautious because of the rise of Anti-Asan sentiments. She says that she’s been staying “careful” and tries not to walk by herself as an Asian senior citizen.
At the beginning of the year, racism-fueled hate crimes sprouted across America. Including, but not limited to, violence against the Asian elderly. For example, in Oakland’s Chinatown, a 91-year-old man was seen on video being aggressively shoved. And in Atlanta, a horrific shooting occurred wherein six out of the eight killed were Asian women.
In response, Natori posted a video on her Instagram page with the caption, “STOP ASIAN HATE.” “
Racism of any kind is not acceptable. We should feel safe in our communities,” the board member of the Asian Cultural Council stresses. “It is time that we protect one another and uplift each other. After such a tumultuous and difficult year, it is time that we spread love, not hate.”
In the talk with WWD, Natori, who moved to America from the Philippines when she was 17, adds that racism was “already there” but the hate is exacerbating during the pandemic. However, she is positive for the future of the ongoing anti-racism movements, citing that the AAPI community coming together and organizations taking action will lead to a safer and progressive outcome.
Fashion for medical workers
While Natori uses her platform to speak out against racism, she uses her talents to aid essential workers. The designer teams up with healthcare company Care + Wear to create functional yet refined medical apparel for medical professionals. The Care + Wear x Natori collaboration unveils scrub collections for men and women, including tops, pants, and scrub caps.
The designer is known for her luxury pajama and loungewear pieces, and she aims to bring the same essence to Care + Wear x Natori. “I hope we can give health care workers the comfort of pajamas, scrubs are really pajama tops and bottoms, but they don’t have to look sloppy,” she tells WWD.
The difference between her collection versus traditional scrubs is the small, but useful details. For instance, some designs include up to eight pockets and longer shirt trails covering the wearer’s back when they lean over.
Despite her being shaken up by hate crimes and the stressors of the pandemic this year, the founder and CEO of The Natori Company will continue advocating for her Asian-American community.
“If you’re from the Philippines, whether you’re a nurse, doctor, a housekeeper, it doesn’t matter. They’re in America sending money to their families,” she muses. “They’re here working hard so they can give a better life to their families. And it’s admirable.”
Banner photo from Instagram