Sayo: Defying traditional Japanese beauty standards

Sayo has been a model in Japan for the last decade. Started as a swimwear model, she learned to embrace her differences. To Sayo, fashion is how she promotes body self-confidence

Sayo begins her modeling career as a swimwear model during her college years. The Japanese beauty may look young but she has been active in the industry for over a decade. During the last 10 years, she has featured in various TV programs, commercials, and advertisement campaigns. What’s more, she has been the cover face of some of the large international magazines such as L’Officiel, Maxim, FHM and now Harper’s Bazaar VN.

Sayo has been fascinated with the fashion world since a long time. “Fashion model and trends from Italy and Paris have always spoken to my soul. I pull a lot of my inspiration from reading glossy fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and many others,” she tells us.

These inspirations have set her personal style. It is important to mention that her style is not just about the expensive hi-fashion pieces. Sayo will pick a nice T-shirt and jeans whenever she can. “Being comfortable is what it’s all about so at home I’m relaxing in a tracksuit or a robe”, she confesses.

Sayo on the cover of Harper's Bazaar

Dresses, Yuki Miyajima. Jewelry, Yuki Miyajima

When we ask what her favourite moments in fashion are, without much thought, Sayo laughs out excitedly: The iconic image of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “[They are] the epitome of style and grace. I love the vintage glam that Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn portrayed,” Sayo says.

For Sayo, being a model was more than just a career. It is a lifestyle where she can spread her love of fashion to the world around her.

Sayo close-up

Dresses, Yuki Miyajima. Jewelry, Yuki Miyajima

Fashion was my destiny

“I’ve always wanted to wear gorgeous clothes and swimsuits, so when I filmed A Dress I knew fashion was my destiny”, she confesses. Since then, she has built her modelling career with a passion for fashion and appeared on many media sources.

Sayo for Harper's Bazaar

Dresses, Yuki Miyajima. Jewelry, Yuki Miyajima. Shoes, Gianvito Rossi

In fact, it’s quite rare to see someone stays for so long in the industry the way Sayo has done. We won’t see her changing her career anytime soon. “In the next 5 years I hope to continue releasing photos that inspire people with my style and efforts to elevate the industry. I want to continue helping brands promote their ideas through my creative expression”, she says.

However, it’s not just the beautiful clothes that got Sayo passionate with the industry. The beautiful Japanese model also realizes that fashion has its downside when it comes sustainability. This, without a doubt, has sparked many conversations around the world, and many environmentalists has warned how impactful the industry has on the environment.

Sayo in Japanese traditional dress

With that in mind, through her works, Sayo hopes that she can contribute to changing the public views around sustainability and environmental impact. “We should start looking at the supply chain end-to-end and being able to openly dícuss that ưith the consumer. Choice is very important these days”, she says.

Sayo in kimono

Clothes is a vehicle to create changes

They say the fashion world can be cut-throat. In every culture, thể í an expected beauty standard for models. One thing for sure is that Sayo definitely does not fit in with the usual slim fashion model. Sayo says, “I don’t have the same figure as most fashion model so I want to create works of art that portray my own personal style while still being sexy. I want people to feel sexy in their own bodies and promote a sense of body positivity”.

Dresses, Yuki Miyajima. Jewelry, Yuki Miyajima. Shoes, Gianvito Rossi

After 10 years being in the industry, Sayo has gone far from just being a swimwear model. The Japanese model is confident and continue to evolve to break new grounds. What really sets her difference is the determination she has for her love for fashion. “I don’t let words from the outside world get to me, which is a rare talent for the Japanese”, she admits.

And just like that, her fashion style has changed drastically over the last 5 years. Sayo always tries to incorporate today’s trend and colors in her outfits. Some colors, as she shares, give her a boost of confidence as when she enters a room, people notice. “My style is ever-changing. My taste in the clothes I put on has changed drastically. I’m way more confident with what I put on today and it shows in my work”, she shares at the end of the interview.

Sayo in blue dress

Dresses, Yuki Miyajima. Jewelry, Yuki Miyajima

**Team Credits**

Photographer: Kota Watanabe, Decollte Studio
Hair and Makeup: Kazue Tokumura
PR: Raven Duran. MUSE Publishing
Executive assistant: James Lamont, MUSE Publishing

Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam