Philippine Fashion Mogul Josie Natori has been known in the United States as force in fashion and design since she founded The Natori Company in 1977. Now, the Manila-born fashion mogul is setting her sights on being a force globally, starting with the Philippines and neighboring Asian countries.
“We’re big in the United States now, how about being bigger in the Philippines and in Asia?” Natori said in an interview with the Asian Journal. The bold statement came a week after Natori opened their first boutiques in the Philippines at Rustan’s Makati and the Rustan’s Tower in the Shangri-la Plaza. The Natori brand is well-known for its signature “East meets West” approach to design, resulting in products that highlight “Asian aesthetics and sensibilities and the Western contemporary lifestyle,” according to Asian Journal. Her Spring/Summer 2012 collection, for instance, features many elements from the Philippines—from bags made of hand-woven abaca from Bulacan to belt buckles made out of Capiz shells.
Before founding the Natori Company, Josie Cruz Natori worked in wealth management firm Merrill Lynch, where she would eventually rise to become the firm’s first female Vice President in Investment Banking. After marrying Ken Natori, Josie Natori made the move from banking to entrepreneurship in 1977, after choosing from several possible business ventures. “I realized it had to be something I could relate to, something to do with the Philippines,” Natori said in a 2007 interview with the New York Sun.
Her fashion career began with blouses from the Philippines that were sold as nightwear in Bloomingdale’s. The rest, as they say, is history. The brand continues to expand globally, even as the US continues to feel the effects of the recession, noted Asian Journal. Recession or not, Natori said it’s all about producing things that women want. Natori’s entry to the Philippines was simply a matter of “right timing,” noting the growth in the Asian market. It may have taken 35 years for Natori to open boutiques in the Philippines, but the global fashion brand is making up for lost time. Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo invited her to be part of the Center for International Trade Exposition and Missions, a group whose mandate is to promote the Philippines in the global market.
“These are the things that I love doing. I’m very proud that they’re all made in the Philippines. I believe in the creativity and talent of Filipinos. I am so inspired by many amazing artists in the Philippines. I would love to be able to help in whatever way I can to get them more recognition.” - Josie Natori
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