Kikka Hanazawa of VPL on Why the Japan Crisis Hits Close to Home

The newly formed Fashion Girls of Japan have organized a can’t miss sample sale taking place this weekend at the Bowery Hotel, featuring designers ranging from Alexander Wang to Diane von Furstenberg, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross, the Mayor's Fund and the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. For one of the sale’s organizers Kikka Hanazawa (the president of fashion label VPL), the cause hits quite close to home. 

Hanazawa (pictured in front of a rack of VPL clothing that will be available at the sale) told us, “I have relatives that I haven’t been able to reach since the earthquake. My father lives not too far from the nuclear plant, but he can’t leave. My mother evacuated from Tokyo, and came to New York. That just shows the magnitude and scale of this disaster.”
It took a mere week for this sample sale to come to fruition, which will feature over 60 racks of clothing, and organizers expect to draw 3,000 people. Kyoko Kageyama of 3.1 Phillip Lim, who had been in Tokyo during quake, set in motion Lim’s sample sale last week, which benefited Japan, and got Hanazawa thinking of ways to help. 
She says, “I had been watching TV and thinking about what I could do. I looked at our inventory at VPL and just realized we didn’t have enough to raise a significant sum for the disaster, which is getting bigger and bigger each day. That’s when I started reaching out to friends who are designers including Maria Cornejo who organized her own charity as well. Then I called Tomoko [Ogura, women’s fashion director of Barneys Co-Op] and Julie [Gilhart, former fashion director of Barneys] as they have much bigger rolodexes to reach out to designers. In less than 24-hours we had an overwhelming response from everyone saying that they would like to participate.”
As for how the Japanese fashion community has mobilized in New York Hanazawa says, “We all loosely know each other. It's not like there are many of us, but the people that I know have some very important roles in key fashion companies. Now we are all trying to come together to offer help.”
She also isn’t surprised that people have been so willing to step up: "In Japan, people have been asking their barbers to do their hair, or their dentists to do their teeth,” says Hanazawa. “People just want to feel useful. Sample sales are what we know.”
Hanazawa, who presides over VPL, which often uses Japanese fabrics, remains unsure as to how the Japan crisis will impact the supply chain. “It’s too early to say how the fall out from the nuclear plant is going to disrupt the supply chain. But I do think there will be some effects, limited effects.” 
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