Ryota Iwai — Auralee, Founder

Ryota Iwai — Auralee, Founder

We had a chat to the label's founder, who's bunkering down in Tokyo, to see where he's drawing inspiration, how he's spent his lockdown and how he's trying to show support to the fashion industry during this time.⁠

Established in 2015, Auralee is the brainchild of Japanese designer and Bunka Fashion College graduate, Ryota Iwai. Known for a meticulous attention to detail and a soft, wearable colour palette with unexpected accent hues, Auralee is an Incu favourite. We caught up with the label’s founder who’s bunkering down in Tokyo, to chat about where he draws inspiration, what he’s spent his lockdown working on, and how he’s trying to show his support to the fashion industry in a difficult time.

When and why did you start your label? 

The brand was launched in the Spring/ Summer season in 2015. I was previously a pattern maker and designer for several Japanese brands, but I really felt motivated to start my own brand where I could create the garments that I wanted to, and make them the way I wanted to.  

Tell us a bit about what influences you?

Originally when I was a teenager, I loved vintage clothing and worked part time at a used clothing store. Other than that, I would save my money in order to obtain pieces from brands such as Helmut Lang. Other artists from different mediums, such as film directors Éric Rohmer and Hong Sang Soo, are also great influences to me. Filled with minimalist elements, whilst leaving a philosophical impression for the viewer, there was something I connected with about this strength in simplicity.


Tell us a bit about this current collection featured on Incu.com and how you fit into the fabric of the Incu Community.

Starting from the AW19, we have been lucky enough to showcase the collection in Paris, and put our work on a global platform, being able to work with great retail partners in various countries. I visited Australia in the past on a tour to research wool and the production process, it is a very beautiful country. I am very happy that everyone in Australia can now wear my clothes! 

Our collections do not have a particular seasonal theme, but the image of the collections are:


- Material and color gradation 

- Combination of earthy materials and artificial materials 

- Dark colors balancing and combining with pale colors 

- Clarity

- Feeling of floating 

- Lightness moving by wind 


- Comfortable, airiness 

- A classic and calm mood, 

- Fresh, elegant 

- Beautiful heather colour combination, 

- Beige and light pink, sheer coats / knit dress  

What is your current WFH creative process? Has it changed lately? 

I don't have enough room at home to fully execute and focus for my work. Fortunately, however, I have an atelier where I can think and work by myself, which I can access by bicycle from home. 

What are your go-to wardrobe pieces? 

Whether I am at home or out, my style doesn't change much to be honest. I like to casually wear items made of elegant materials such as cashmere, silk and wool. For example, I may put on a silk shirt and a cashmere knit that had been stored in the back of the closet. Knit pants are also one of my favorite items because they look relaxed while being beautiful. 

Can you show us what your current work station looks like? Organised chaos? Or planned and tidy?

I can't show you the photo! Honestly, the fabric swatches, thread prototypes on the desk and the atelier itself are in a state of chaos. 

What are you currently reading or watching? 

I'm reading a book called "The Art of Margins" by Lee Ufan, one of my favorite artists. Despite simple words, I have noticed many things through reading. 

What’s your go-to meal right now?

If it is fruit, anything, I am eating fruit all throughout the year. 

What will be your first treat yourself meal after you leave self-isolation? 


What have you found yourself drawn to doing during this time? 

I work everyday. The number of online meetings has increased to cope with the daily changing situation, but we are all busier than ever!  

What are some local businesses that youʼd love to support? 

First of all, I would like to support the fabric and sewing factories who we are working with. I think that many factories are currently feeling uneasy because of the reduced orders due to the circumstances. I think that what we can do is to support them through continuing orders for work as much as possible and help them continue their integral business. 

How have you stayed in touch with loved ones?

Whether it be home or the atelier, I'm communicating directly. When I am away, I can keep in touch through messaging through services online. The most fun for me is to cook and eat breakfast together on Saturdays and Sundays.  

What are you grateful for right now?

Everything that has allowed me to be in this environment, and everyone involved in the brand.