DollarGurl Gaze Tokyo
22 May 2019
For this month's Gurl Gaze, we spoke to Dollar. The Shanghai-born student shares her thoughts on studying fashion design, wardrobe essentials, and what life in Tokyo is really like.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Dollar: Hi, my name is Dollar. I’m 23 years old. I’m from Shanghai and I am an art student. I studied art in Macau before I came to Tokyo to study fashion design.
How did you come up with the name Dollar?
Dollar: There were so many occasions where my friends could not properly pronounce my English name (which is Lizbeth by the way) or they’d call me Elizabeth and choose to call me by my Chinese name in order to avoid saying Lizbeth at all. Then one day, while dining with an American friend of mine, he took out dollar bills that I quite liked the design of, so the idea of getting the nickname ‘Dollar’ appeared in my mind.
What expectations did you have before you came to Japan and how have they changed after living in Tokyo for a while?
Dollar: I had travelled to Japan before I moved to live here, and at that time I thought that being able to go shopping every day is the most incredible thing ever; that people here are so friendly and are enjoying their lives. However, after staying here for a year now, shopping in Japan is no longer appealing to me and is rather dangerous. It’s as if this place constantly lures you to waste money on unnecessary items due to the large variety of brands available. Also, people here aren’t as happy as I thought. The hectic pace of work is draining everybody’s energy, which is quite sad to realize.
You came to Tokyo in hopes of pursuing fashion design. What have you found attractive regarding Japanese fashion? Has life in Tokyo affected your style in any way?
Dollar: The Japanese craftsmanship as well as their perfectionist details brought me to study here, to be honest. I hope not just to study design, but also to perfect my craftsmanship because the quality of my work matters a lot to me. [Japanese fashion] is very rigid and precise on details.
How do you describe your style at the moment?
Dollar: I don’t have a certain style, but I prefer simplicity and black suits me. Although I have multiple styles of clothing, I still like simple, loose, black clothing the most.
What has been the biggest influence on your personal style?
Dollar: It would probably be my mother. Perhaps that has to do with her profession in the fashion industry; she has been strict about my appearance as well as her own from when I was young. Some simple-looking garments can have hidden details or unique tailoring, and my mom puts on these ‘simple’ items but looks absolutely fashionable. Maybe because of growing up and seeing my mother’s styles, I myself have been influenced to dress similarly.
What is your ‘Holy Grail’ fashion piece at the moment?
Dollar: I do not have one at the moment, but I adore suits a lot. Regardless of colour or type, suits have been my go-to at all times.
What is the first thing you look for in an item of clothing when you’re shopping?
Dollar: Tailoring and the fabric of the item. I personally don’t like print design, so to me, the most essential part of a garment would be tailoring and fabric; those are the soul of clothes.
What are your thoughts on popular fashion styles today? Are they redundant? How does one outshine others with their style in a social media-driven society?
Dollar: To be frank, it is getting redundant. Fashion repeats itself all the time. Even though new ideas can be created throughout this repeating process, they rarely remain for a long time. Yeah, I think just be yourself. Go explore the world and eventually you’ll get inspired by the experiences.
In terms of how to outshine others, if one wants to be famous (and that’s all he/she wants) then the original purpose of why you started would be lost. As long as you keep being yourself and never forget why you started to do what you do, and persevere in whatever you do, you’ll make it someday. It has always been the people who work hard and persevered to the very end who succeed.
As a fashion design student, what do you want people to feel after putting on your handcrafted garments?
Dollar: Being able to feel that you are true to yourself.