Toshiaki Tashiro

Interview by Saleem Daronville
06 August 2007
An interview with Tod's Japan Senior Vice-President, Toshiaki Tashiro
Mr. Toshiaki Tashiro has enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the top echelons of the Japanese fashion business. After cutting his teeth at Isetan, he helped establish Barneys New York in Tokyo and took the helm of Gucci in Japan. He is now Senior Vice-President of Tod’s Japan.

What is your background? How did you come to work in the fashion business?

I graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University in 1971. I was in the law department, but as you know, for most university students in Japan, it doesn’t really matter what department you are in. After I graduated, I joined the department store Isetan.
When I was a student, I worked at a gas station for four years. I was very interested in cars and mechanics, and I was fortunate that my friend owned the gas station near my house. At that time, I found it very, very interesting to serve customers and sell them things.

Why did you choose Isetan?

I was interested in the retail business. I never expected myself to become a fashion retailer. But department stores in Japan have a certain pride and are seen as belonging to a top class, so that’s why I chose the department store as my life work.

When you joined, in which area did you start working?

In April 1971, I joined Isetan. Isetan has a specific training course, so for three months I did children’s wear. After that, my boss evaluated the new recruits, and the company assigned me to the ladies fashion section.

What made them choose you for that?

I am not so sure. It was decided by the company. I tried to find out the reason later. Maybe I’m just handsome. (laughs) After I transferred to the ladies section, I never changed my job until I was transferred to Singapore when I was 29 years old.

What kind of work did you do?

I was in the ladies swimwear section for three years. The swimwear business in Japan is quite interesting. In winter we have to place orders, and then we start to receive the orders. Almost every day, 100 or 120 cartons were delivered to the store. At that time, I was the only man in the section, so I had to carry all the cartons from the delivery area to the stock room. It was a tough time. (laughs)
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