Akira Isogawa is arguably Australia's most famous Japanese resident. In 2005 he was invited to appear on a commemorative postage stamp — and as an "Australian Legend," no less. The honor, which caught the diminutive fashion designer by surprise, is just one of many awards recognizing Isogawa's achievements from a career that spans over 25 years.

"To be honest, I had no idea that Australia Post was so progressive and innovative in their marketing," he says, laughing. "I thought you had to be dead to appear on a postage stamp, let alone working actively in your field. I still have so much yet to do!"

Australia, especially its art and fashion world, has wholeheartedly embraced Isogawa as one of its own. He, too, feels anchored to his adoptive home, the first country he visited after deciding to leave Japan. A maternal cousin living in the New South Wales town of Mittagong had sent him postcards, persuading him to visit. The nascent Working Holiday Visa program gave Isogawa a foothold and chance to realize his long-held ambitions of studying and working in fashion.