Yohji Yamamoto: the success story of a famous designer
Japanese haute couture master Yohji Yamamoto is more than just one of the top fashion designers. For more than a decade, his work has been admired and applauded by the public. What was his path to success, and what exactly does Yamamoto’s design solutions attract attention to?
Yoji (Yoji) Yamamoto
Difficult childhood as the basis of future philosophy
The future master was born in 1943 in Tokyo in the midst of World War II in a poor military family. Soon the boy’s father died at the front, and since then Yohji’s mother has dressed only in black, which left a deep imprint on his perception of the world around him. Until now, Yamamoto’s collections are dominated by black, sometimes contrasting with dazzling white elements.
Yohji Yamamoto with his wife, daughter and mother.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki left an equally deep imprint on the memory of the child, and years later these painful memories became the basis for his own "nuclear explosion" – fortunately, only in the fashion industry.
Since his mother was a dressmaker, it was thanks to her that Yamamoto learned the basics of the future profession. However, at first Yohji was not going to become a designer – the profession of a lawyer promised much brighter prospects, therefore the young man successfully graduated from the law faculty of the University of Tokyo. Fortunately for the world of fashion, after receiving a diploma, the newly minted lawyer realized that running around the courts with folders of papers was not his calling, and entered the Bunka Gakuen School of Fashion.
By the way, the institution has raised many other authoritative characters – for example, Kenzo Takada and Issey Miyake.
Bunka Gakuen fashion school modern building
A few years after graduation, Yamamoto founded his own brand. Realizing that Japan (at that time) is by no means the center of the high fashion universe, the ambitious 26-year-old designer sets off to conquer Paris. There they perceive his bold unusual ideas, which run counter to the then trends and trends, with hostility.
Returning home, Yamamoto continued to move in the chosen unconventional direction. And in Japan, over time, they will still appreciate his style.
Soon, the first collection of clothing was demonstrated on the Tokyo catwalk, which became a breakthrough: an asymmetric cut, a dominant black color, voluminous silhouettes. It was bold, bold and unusual – that’s what made it attractive. Yohji blurred the distinction between men’s and women’s clothing, as he believed that voluminous and shapeless silhouettes shifted the focus from the body to the face of a person.
Conquest of Europe
In the early 1980s, the Yohji Yamamoto brand, already quite well-known in its homeland, again set off to conquer the European catwalks, starting, as before, from Paris. The show of the new collection shocked even the most inveterate skeptics: stern models without the slightest sign of make-up proudly defiled in gloomy clothes of a baggy male cut and brutal shoes. No seductive women’s dresses, intriguing necklines, stilettos and other things. Menswear had a similar aesthetic. The designer has always stood for hidden sexuality disguised under clothes, which can only be seen by a person with a deep inner world. “The first philosopher in the world of fashion" – this is the nickname Yohji Yamamoto was awarded after his “second debut” in Europe, and it very accurately reveals the essence of his ideas and views on the world.
Tokyo Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2021 Yohji Yamamoto Collection
Yamamoto’s clothes combine unique properties: on the one hand, all products are designed in the same general style, on the other hand, each item is very individual and suits only a narrow circle of true connoisseurs.
Consolidation of success
Y-3 brand logo
In the 1990s, designer Yohji Yamamoto finally turned from a gloomy and shocking “freak” in the eyes of the conservative public into one of the key people in the fashion industry. His signature cut, perceived far from the first time, has become the new norm. In 2003, together with Adidas, the designer creates the Y-3 clothing line, thanks to which it becomes known to a more mass audience.
Under the Y-3 brand, mostly monochrome sportswear is created for casual style. The line was a great commercial success, and the designer himself stated that it combined sports and fashion.
In the Y-3 collections, sneakers have a special place. After all, it was with them that Yamamoto’s cooperation with Adidas began.
Adidas Y-3 Kaiwa is one of the most popular models born from the collaboration between Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto.
2009 was a difficult period for Yohji’s creativity: the Yohji Yamamoto brand was declared bankrupt (the company had a debt of 65 million US dollars). However, a year later, the brand got rid of debts and presented a new collection, which was a great success.
Today we can see Y-3 products in most street style shops. The brand continues to evolve in its aesthetic, which finds more and more adherents.
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