Shirts that cater to the body and soul of every woman.
They aspire to craft it in Aso.
Located on the newly renovated third floor of Aso Kumamoto Airport is the terminal’s sole boutique, “gogaku”.
Gogaku is a proud Kumamoto shirt-exclusive brand that holds exhibitions both domestically and internationally. Using the finest fabrics sourced from all over the world, the creator, Yoshitaka Yoshida, carefully manufactures the shirts in their Aso factory. These shirts coalesce comfort, features convenient for nursing mothers, and the graceful curvature of femininity.
Though originally from Kansai, Yoshida, overflowing with profound love for Kumamoto, shared why he chose Aso as the base for his shirt-making venture.
From “Café Manager” in Kobe to “Shirt Craftsman” in Aso
Yoshida’s encounter with “Kumamoto” occurred in 2008 when he visited the Aso region of Kumamoto as a tourist. There, he was captivated by the vast, nature-rich landscapes reminiscent of foreign lands and the sprawling mountains, including Mount Aso. On seeing this, Yoshida felt a strong desire to work in such an environment that, though in Japan, felt much like a foreign country.
A turning point for Yoshida came at the age of 31. While working as a café manager and contemplating his career trajectory, he wondered if he was on the right path. One evening, after indulging in a bit too much alcohol, a shirt caught his eye. As he mused, “There’s something about shirts,” he felt as if the ambient noise from outside whispered, “Why not create one?” Taking this as a divine sign, Yoshida decided to take on shirt-making.
He promptly began by deconstructing shirts he owned to understand their structure. Realizing it was impossible for a novice to replicate, he nevertheless spent a year immersing himself in fashion books. Against the odds, he managed to craft his first shirt, though it wasn’t of marketable quality.
Deciding that self-study was too time-consuming, Yoshida enrolled in the local Kobe Bunka Fashion College. As he recalls, “I persuaded my teachers to solely instruct me on shirt-making.” Acquiring the necessary skills, Yoshida established the shirt-making company “TRAILER” on March 3rd, just before graduation.
Drawn to Aso’s allure, Yoshida explored business opportunities in Kumamoto post-launch. During his frequent visits, he met wood artisan Yuichi Kiba (CEO of BLANK Corporation) and Shinji Watanabe (President & CEO of Kyushu Sangyo Landmark Corporation). The duo, appreciating Yoshida’s straightforward passion for shirt-making, timeless aesthetic, and determination to thrive in Kumamoto, provided him opportunities to showcase his products at events, marking his first step in Kumamoto.
With further assistance from Junichi Yamano of Sanwa Construction, Yoshida realized his dream of establishing a store in the coveted Aso region.
Gratefully, Yoshida remarks, “Thanks to Mr. Kiba, Mr. Watanabe, and Mr. Yamano, I can now operate in Kumamoto. I’m forever indebted to them.”
“Chemise et bébé”
Crafted for nursing mothers, “Chemise et bébé” is delicately tailored, piece by piece, by artisans at the company’s factory in Aso.
The Thought Behind the Name “gogaku”
As Yoshida’s business began to stabilize as a shirt-maker, a growing request began to emerge. Mothers approached him with a desire: “I’m a mom, but I want to enjoy fashion.” These women hoped for shirts that addressed both their wish to revel in fashion and the practical requirements of motherhood.
That led Yoshida to conceive the product that would later be symbolic of gogaku, called “Chemise et bébé”. This shirt is characterized by a draped front, incorporating a panel for breastfeeding. This design allows for discreet nursing even while outside. Furthermore, custom-ordered shirts can have slits near the bust area, making nursing even more convenient. The doubled-up front panel creates a beautiful drape, accentuating the femininity of the design.
Yoshida had envisioned such a shirt, where nursing mothers could feed their children in public while still looking stylish. However, just as his men’s shirts were gaining traction, he didn’t have the funds to produce a completely different design for women. In this situation, members from the Aso Chamber of Commerce and Industry became his pillars of support, proposing, “A shirt made in Aso for nursing mothers sounds intriguing!” They provided advice and assistance in securing funds.
Eventually, with the help of a grant, Yoshida launched “gogaku”. Grateful to the support of his peers in Aso for enabling him to create a women’s shirt brand, he named the brand “gogaku”, drawing inspiration from the “Five Peaks of Aso” (Nekodake, Takadake, Nakadake, Eboshidake, and Kishimadake).
For Yoshida, who dreams of expanding “from Aso to the world,” opening a store in the airport terminal was a significant step. “It feels like a dream to offer visitors from various countries an opportunity to see and touch the products in person,” said Yoshida, his eyes shining brightly, reminiscent of an excited child.
The idea of integrating a nursing cover into a shirt. The drape on the front serves as a cover during nursing.
Customization. Tailored customization is also available.