Girls Just Want To Have Fun!

The Identity of NATTOFRANCO.

Photo_Yuichiro Noda 
Interview&Text_Mami Okamoto

NATTOFRANCO. 納豆フランコ, written in Japanese words.
The brand with bizarre name, which is unforgettable once you heard.
Noemie Aiko Sebayashi, designer of the brand is a mix of Japanese and French girl
who was born and raised in Paris.
Noemie is a mysterious girl who has same eyes and hair color as us, and unique
identity of loving Japanese culture in the 1980s while French nationality.
The clothes she makes is fulfilled by minority strength by corresponding to herself and
the output of unknown nationality that is not found anywhere else is spotlighted.
We interviewed her about daily life, clothes making and a little unique identity at her
home/atelier in Paris.

A symbol of a minority in Paris, funny brand name.

The brand name sounds very strange. Please tell us where it came from
Noemie Aiko Sebayashi (Noemie from below):I am a mix of French and Japanese. I put the meaning of having both identities to the brand name by crossing natto, which is traditional Japanese food with French. Why natto is, simply because I love natto. My identity of food is not white neither.
So, Noemie you are a mix of French and Japanese, have you ever lived in Japan?
Noemie:No, I’ve never lived in Japan. Born in France and raised in France. So I can hardly speak Japanese. However, since my Grandpa and Grandma live in Bihoro Town in Hokkaido, I’d like to go back as much as I can if I have opportunities to know my own roots and Japanese culture. Children of Japanese and French mix who live in Paris tend to go to an international school where they can learn Japanese and Japanese culture but I went to the local public school. I’ve been living as a French, but because I’m half a Japanese, my mind was sometimes confused back in my school days.
What’s like a mix of Japanese girl in Paris?
Noemie:There are only few Japanese mixed in France, so we are minority. I think that mixed would less feel stranger if you lived in Japan. When I was kid, I had a thought like my nationality is French, but I’m not genuine French anyway and I grew up with having a feeling of I’m different to others. Now, I don’t care that anymore as I have work to do and I think that being a mixed is rather advantage.

Japanese father is the origin of creation and fashion.

So, your father is a Japanese, isn’t he? Is it his influence that you got interested in Japanese culture?
Noemie:Yes. The figure of my father who has lived a real culture of 1980s is significant. I was raised in Paris, surrounded by Japanese archives. He works in the advertising industry, and since all their works used to be done manually, I also like things that have handmade feeling like collages. Such a creation part is influenced by my father. By the way, he draws NATTOFRANCO’s calligraphy in a bit cheap style on purpose.
You got influenced by what kind of things to Japanese culture, for example
Noemie:Especially from books and printed posters in the 1980s. Photo books, comic books, and adult books are interesting to see, and fonts of kanji and hiragana are also very fresh for me. Moreover, I love signboards of the city, package designs, idols, women’s' professional wrestling, kitsch hair style at the time, outfits, makeup, pop songs and folk songs. I grew up with seeing varieties of Japanese things beyond era and nation. I get inspiration from such things and I output to clothes to a fairly detailed part.
Is it also your father’s influence that you were interested infashion?
Noemie:Yes. He is my fashion icon and the origin of fashion. I used to shop with my father at vintage clothing stores in Paris since I was kid and I wore boys' clothes a lot. Rib leggings on old <Carhartt> blouson and <ellesse> jogging pants and Bordeaux color Dr. Martens on foot. That kind of style is very rare in France. So, I’m different from other kids on street in Paris since I’m little. I really think so.
How do you see recent enthusiasm of the Paris street culture?
Noemie:To be honest, I think street culture in Paris is a copy of London and NY. So, I don’t think it’s something to affect me. I don’t know its trend either because I don’t dress like typical French. If I say that, meaning of making clothes in Paris will be lost but honestly, I do this in Paris because my family and friends are here. The street in London and NY are cool because the town itself seems like culture. Two cities have one of a kind atmosphere and unique characteristics that you can’t find in anywhere else. So, all street girls in London and NY are my muse.
Is there anything you think is different between French girls and Japanese girls?
Noemie:I think that Japan and France have different style regarding "being a girl". It’s like girls have to be girly and feminine in Japan. Though Tom Boy-ish girls have been accepted In Paris recently, boys like girls to stay girl no matter Japanese or French after all. Because I have my own image of ideal girl, I have been outcast for a long time. Lol

Clothes, created by minority that is neither Japan nor France.

In the meantime, how come you decided to start the own brand? What did you do before launched?
Noemie:After graduated the high school, I went to fashion school for two years and did internship at couture brand based in Paris since 19 years old and I learned about clothes making in general. After that, I became an assistant of journalist Diane Pernet, and I was writing a blog. I went to fashion school and I liked clothes, but I didn’t like mode. That’s what I thought again after start concerning to the fashion industry. So, I thought I'd make my own favorite things. Before starting the brand, I did a lot of part-time jobs because I needed money. I think that experience was good for me. Even <JACQUEMUS> used to work at <COMME des GARÇONS>, right? While it’s tough, I think it was necessary to make what I wanted to do true.
What kind of things do you want to tell through <NATTOFRANCO> clothes?
Noemie:Being cool as a girl no matter the nationalities. Being independent. Then, I want to message the strength of a girl. Because I’d like youth generation to wear my clothes and keep its price reasonable, I stopped to create what buyer asks me to make and wholesale them to shop, instead I only sell in EC now. I used to consider myself as an artist, but since I started the brand, I now consider myself as a business woman. As I’m interested in Japanese gym clothes now, I’d like to expand imagination from it and create T - shirts and wears. I hope I can keep putting what I really like to my clothes and message out from Paris.