In the late 1960s, having just completed a law degree at Keio University, Yohji Yamamoto found himself working for his mother’s dressmaking business in Kabukichō, Tokyo’s red-light district. It was there that he picked up tailoring skills and, alongside picking up another degree in fashion design at Bunka Fashion College, set the path for what has become one of fashion’s greatest success stories, changing the face of both men’s and women’s fashion forever.
It was at the dressmakers’ that Yamamoto cemented his desire to create a different look for women, telling the Independent in an interview: “I grumbled silently to myself about the impossibility of reproducing the magazine look. I hated it. Intensifying my annoyance was the fact that the shop was in the Kabukichō area of Shinjuku, a place overflowing with women whose job it was to titillate male customers. They had shaped my image of womanhood since childhood, and I was therefore determined at all costs to avoid creating the cute, doll-like women that some men so adore.”
Yamamoto showed his first collection in Paris in 1981 and has since become known for his oversized, androgynous designs for men and women, an expert’s approach to layering, and a palette of black, black and more black.
In 2003, the designer paired up with German behemoth adidas to create Y-3, a line that blends Yamamoto’s design philosophies with adidas’s sportswear expertise. It’s a collaboration that has continued throughout the 2000s and continues to grow from strength to strength, with its own, much-anticipated slot at Paris Fashion Week each season. In the below video, the designer talks about Y-3 on the way to one of his collection launches in the city, finishing off with the line “I’ll make this brand a necessary brand in fashion.”
He’s already done it. Shop Y-3 for men on women on Coggles >>