H.Naoto is one of many breakthrough designers in Japan that have integrated a unique, avant-garde style into his fashion, utilizing what was once an underground sensation – the fusion of Gothic and Lolita styles into everyday clothing brands. At times shocking to those who view his shows, h.NAOTO is best known for advancing the Goth-Loli style into new areas by introducing Victorian, underground, and Punk aspects into its aesthetic.
Naoto Hirooka, also known as H. Naoto, was born in 1978, aand attended the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, Japan. After graduating, he joined S-inc in 1999 and immediately launched his own brand, h. NAOTO with the Spring 2000 collection. His work has become widely known in the fashion community as a successful applicant of the Japanese punk and gothic styles which have existed for many years.
H.Naoto’s work has reached some international acclaim in recent years as he has worked with singers such as Amy Lee of Evanescence, designing her dress for the 2004 Grammy Awards. Other musicians he has worked with include the bands Psycho le Cemu, Ayabie, and S.K.I.N.
Known for its fusion of Gothic, Punk, and Lolita designs, the h.NAOTO line has been one of the more unique brands from Japan to reach the International scene in the last 10 years. Considered one of the more successful labels in using these styles, h.NAOTO has been highly successful in bridgin the gap between the small market in Japan and a growing international market with a wide array of new designs.
The style used by h.NAOTO is often referred to as Goth-Loli and has been prolific in a few key designs in Japan since the mid-1990s, a result of visual-kei bands and various manga influences. Harajuku shows by h.NAOTO have lent the style more attention and appeal and has allowed it to continue growth.
While most Goth-Loli style is best described by its use of cute, playful morbidity, h.NAOTO has become known for pushing past these basic sensibilities and introducing more instances of punk and almost bondage style Victorian fashion.
As a part of S-Inc, h.NAOTO works within the boundaries of fashion, music, film, art, and multiple other design influences, pushing it into a different category of fashion label, one that is viewed uniquely by its fans. He is currently helped by additional designers Mika Takeuchi (h.Jelly, Honey), Daisuke Ichikawai (HN+DIE), and Nami Kitsukawa (h.NAOTO Blood, hB.roots). The clothing made with their designs is almost entirely handmade and produced in a limited quantity to retain the uniqueness of the label. The general target demographic for h.NAOTO clothing is weomen age 16 to 25 and men age 18 to 30.