Sandra Sakata

Sandra Akemi Sakata (August 24, 1940 – September 21, 1997) was an American fashion designer[1] and fashion retailer.

She was a proponent of the art to wear movement and featured one-of-a-kind creations at her boutique Obiko, co-founded in 1972 on Sacramento Street, San Francisco, with Kaisek Wong, Alex Mate and Lee Brooks.[2] She sought to showcase the work of artists she met in the San Francisco Bay Area.[1] A Japanese-American, she was known for being an "exquisitely dressed" "dynamo" and traveled in the Far East. Her apartment included displayed some the goods she found in her travels.[1]


Sakata was born in Watsonville, California in 1940. She spent her early years in the Poston internment camp in Arizona.[3]

Sakata graduated from California State University, Chico and received a teaching certificate from the University of Hawaii. She worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am for six years before returning to San Francisco. In the mid-1970s she "found her true metier" and became a boutique owner.[1]

The Obiko boutique featured avantgarde window displays and sold the works of many San Francisco designers. Items sold included tie-dyed dresses, handwoven scarves, hand-painted jackets and handcrafted jewelry. "I had met so many talented artists in San Francisco, and I wanted to showcase their work", Sakata recounted in a 1995 interview. "I didn't want to just line the clothes up on a rack. I created a total environment of paintings, antiques, sculpture and flowers to set a mood for the clothing and jewelry."[1]

Sakata played an important role in promoting the wearable art movement.[4] She inspired designers to produce jewelry, hand knits, woven fabrics, and hand-dyed silks inspired by ethnic influences worldwide that are emblematic of the "art-to-wear" movement. These designs were included at the flagship store, located on Sutter Street near Union Square. She expanded her Obiko boutique in 1983 with an outpost at the Bergdorf Goodman store in New York, which closed in 1997.[1]


Sakata died of breast cancer at her home in San Francisco on September 21, 1997 at age 57. She was survived by her mother, her brother and a niece and nephew.[1]


One of Jean Cacicedo's shibori designs is called "For Sandra" in homage to Sakata and Obiko.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Obituary for Sandra Sakata by J.L. Pimsleur and Trish Donnally,, September 24, 1997
  2. ^ Surface Newsletter, Volumes 9-12, p. 61 (1995) at
  3. ^ "Japanese American Internee Data File: Sandra A. Sakata". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  4. ^ a b Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada (November 16, 2012). Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now (2nd ed.). Kodansha USA. ISBN 978-1568364704.

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