40 years of Natori » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle



By Tina Hidalgo Jacinto

Josie Cruz Natori, founder of The Natori Company, has always believed that there are no boundaries, having crossed continents with her world-famous fashion lines and lifestyle merchandise. With her East-meets-West design aesthetics, Josie has surmounted countless obstacles, and yet has managed to create the successful global brand it is today. This year marks Natori’s 40th anniversary, and Rustan’s, her loyal partner, recently hosted the celebration of “40 Years of the Art of Natori.” The salon show and exclusive styling event featured the latest collection at the exclusive Manila House with the presence of Rustan’s patriarch, chairman emeritus Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. and Rustan’s Commercial Corporation chairman and CEO Zenaida Tantoco.

  • The Josie Natori Spring 2017 Collection

  • The Josie Natori Spring 2017 Collection

  • The Josie Natori Spring 2017 Collection

  • The Josie Natori Spring 2017 Collection

  • Josie Natori accepts a bouquet of flowers from Amb. Bienvenido Tantoco Sr.

  • Karina Nielsen, Josie Prebich, Nathalie Prebich, Sherani Op den Camp, and Natasja Swart

  • Tania Lichauco and Hera Geriene

  • Cecille Esquivel and Carlota Miller

  • Dayalini Mendis, Shyamala Abeyratne, and Linds Edralin Boughton

  • Olga Martel and Jojo Zabarte

  • Rupert Jacinto, Josie Natori, and the author

  • Josie Natori (2nd from left) with Zenaida Tantoco, Anton Huang, and Maritess Tantoco-Enriquez

  • Serla Russell and Agile Zamora

  • Menchu Concepcion and Ching Montinola

  • Susan Joven, Criselda Lontok, and Marixi Prieto

  • Roi Phillips, Nini Licaros, Kate Gordon, and Dette Tan

  • Josie Yu, Duday Tuason, and Mayenne Carmona

“Natori is a total concept, a way of life. I just happened to start at the back door with lingerie. Now, as the company grows, we grow on sensibility, too, taking our concept and making it worldwide,” she says. Natori is “where life meets art.” Having started her company in 1977, the New York designer-entrepreneur has evolved into a lifestyle. She says that the whole structure of the fashion industry has changed with the advent of the Internet. Her son, company president Kenneth Jr., launched the brands e-commerce site 10 years ago and Josie taps social media but does not purchase from the Internet. The Millennials are independent, with desire versatility and practicality of an ensemble.

“Because it is 40 years, I really wanted the spring collection to have the essence of the Philippines,” said Natori. In term of prints, each segment was divided into Cebu, Mindanao, the sunset, a Philippine map, all celebrating her signature kaftans. Some of her clientele are Generation Z, who wears Natori underwear, as well as celebrities, who are loyal to the brand, Jessica Chastain, Jody Foster, Kendall Jenner, and Kourtney Kardashian.

“I want to be able to give something back, to make a difference in people’s lives.” She built facilities in the Philippines to handle 50 percent of all Natori production. Josie has received so many awards, such as the Galleon Award given by President Corazon Aquino, the Lakandula Award for Excellency from President Gloria Arroyo, and the Humanitarian Award from the Fashion Group International. Natori is a member of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and is in the Committee of 200. She is a member of the board of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines, Asian Cultural Council, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Women in Need.

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