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24-08-2005
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rui
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I have had the priviallage and disdain of working within the Yohi Yamamoto Company. Before I started there and within my studies at university I respected and lookeed up to Yohji as a mentor for my own fashion identity. It was his clothing that always rocked me, his use of lines and concepts of shapes. He is a true master. The disdain that I felt was that of his unwillingness to modernize his image. He has for a very long time created what he creates and has never budged. Never has he revamped the image of Yohji Yamamoto. There is some respect to be given to someone who sticks to their guns but at this day and age it is the collaboration of creative and commerce that propells one into a succesful buisness. Newness is needed. Y-3 was his move into mainstream but it still did not make him! Its still Adidas and not Yohji!!! I talked with high powered people within the Yohji corporation about why this is. Why is Yohji not caring of his counterparts and their diving into a modernized world of fashion but still within their own creative world. Comme Des Garcon for instance was my example with this Yamamoto employee. I asked why is Comme running forward within fashions scope with her Guerrilla stores, Dover Street and all the collaborations that she involves herself with and Yohji not doing anything to reintroduce himself to a maybe yonger crowd, a hipper crowd or even to his loyal followers. Even the loyals need a recycling of energy to stay loyal. Yohji, i felt, needed to also produce such energy within his company. I was told not to compare the two designers because it was like comparing the 2 slowest kids in the class who sit in the back row. I should look at who is in front of the class for inspiration not the one that sits at your left or right. This comment from this high-ranking official in the Yohji camp shocked me. I felt I was comparing Yohji to a higher standard classmate, REi kawakubo! She, in my mind, is no longer in the back of the class, I said. She has driven toward the front. What is yohji doing to keep up? the topic was dropped and so was my respect for the company.
Its hard, I beleive, for a company with such roots to grow within this fast paced world of consumerisim and celebritisim. Rei kawakubo has exceled in putting herself constantly in the fore front of it all with an artistic eye and and creative vision. She has created modernity. Yohj, I feel has not done so within the lst few years Yes his clothing last decades and never will become dated always new and fresh but his image has lost its shine and needs to be polished into todays market. I still look at his clothing with a bit amazment but I feel from learning more of the company and meeting the man himself that it is a dying company. I do not expect many more years of the yamamoto label because of this unwillingness of change. He has not embraced today and is stuck in his ideals of yesterday.

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24-08-2005
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^ thanks for this post, rui. i probably should refrain from responding as i just got home from a night out... i think the movie 'notebooks on cities and clothes' best illuminated his perspective on fashion. in a way it had this sort of barrier between the viewer and the film, so perhaps the style of the film was appropriate to it's subject. he seemed melancholy.

something i really like about yohji is his passionate consistency. his clothes ARE beautiful, and subtle and unrestrictive to the body, at least from what i can tell as i've never seen an actual yohji garment in the flesh. the man has gravities. i appreciate comme des garcons for it's passionate inconsistency. both stay brands seem to stay true to themselves, but one seems old and one seems young. comme des garcons still seems fresh like a precocious child -- in the moment and immediate.

i don't have the pleasure of working with either person, but i feel as if both their clothing is asking questions about culture, the body and the way we see ourselves even if yohji seems to be asking the same questions as he did when he first emerged as a member of the japanese avant garde, and i still think these are interesting questions posed that are still foreign to a degree, and not just within fashion. so i appreciate his insight.

i think comme des garcons is still this mutable phenomanon that IS the closest thing to fashion as ART, because she is part of the collective consicousness. so when we look back we'll cite rei kawakubo for building an avant garde movement...whereas is yohji is still the scaffolding -- she's the pulse and he's the bones.

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24-08-2005
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^^^ two very interesting posts...I will consider & reply later

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24-08-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rui
I have had the priviallage and disdain of working within the Yohi Yamamoto Company. Before I started there and within my studies at university I respected and lookeed up to Yohji as a mentor for my own fashion identity. It was his clothing that always rocked me, his use of lines and concepts of shapes. He is a true master. The disdain that I felt was that of his unwillingness to modernize his image. He has for a very long time created what he creates and has never budged. Never has he revamped the image of Yohji Yamamoto. There is some respect to be given to someone who sticks to their guns but at this day and age it is the collaboration of creative and commerce that propells one into a succesful buisness. Newness is needed. Y-3 was his move into mainstream but it still did not make him! Its still Adidas and not Yohji!!! I talked with high powered people within the Yohji corporation about why this is. Why is Yohji not caring of his counterparts and their diving into a modernized world of fashion but still within their own creative world. Comme Des Garcon for instance was my example with this Yamamoto employee. I asked why is Comme running forward within fashions scope with her Guerrilla stores, Dover Street and all the collaborations that she involves herself with and Yohji not doing anything to reintroduce himself to a maybe yonger crowd, a hipper crowd or even to his loyal followers. Even the loyals need a recycling of energy to stay loyal. Yohji, i felt, needed to also produce such energy within his company. I was told not to compare the two designers because it was like comparing the 2 slowest kids in the class who sit in the back row. I should look at who is in front of the class for inspiration not the one that sits at your left or right. This comment from this high-ranking official in the Yohji camp shocked me. I felt I was comparing Yohji to a higher standard classmate, REi kawakubo! She, in my mind, is no longer in the back of the class, I said. She has driven toward the front. What is yohji doing to keep up? the topic was dropped and so was my respect for the company.
Its hard, I beleive, for a company with such roots to grow within this fast paced world of consumerisim and celebritisim. Rei kawakubo has exceled in putting herself constantly in the fore front of it all with an artistic eye and and creative vision. She has created modernity. Yohj, I feel has not done so within the lst few years Yes his clothing last decades and never will become dated always new and fresh but his image has lost its shine and needs to be polished into todays market. I still look at his clothing with a bit amazment but I feel from learning more of the company and meeting the man himself that it is a dying company. I do not expect many more years of the yamamoto label because of this unwillingness of change. He has not embraced today and is stuck in his ideals of yesterday.
Oh, i think this is the worst one can do, comparing Yohji and Comme Des Garcons, I experienced this by myself many times when I spoke with our sales person at Yīs... I cannot understand though that you find Yohjiīs clothes so dated for the times we are in right now. Iīve been working with both companies and I must say that Comme always seemed to me as if it was "corporate driven" and trying to sell a lot of mediocre merchandise under the halo of Rei Kawakuboīs genius.

Their secondary lines, "CdG Shirt", "CdG CdG" as well as "Play" are a good example how they are selling clothes with very little substance as "latest avant garde from the sole visionairy in fashion" (-> Rei Kawakubo). I always wondered why nobody ever questioned her own reputation... itīs always taken for granted that sheīs so ahead of the pack and "hip", collaborating with hipster-favourites Collette and Corso Como... it definitely adds to the cool of the brand and is basically why you see so many (japanese) hipster people wearing poor CdG merchandise... how many are there that can pull off their mainlines, "Homme Plus" and "Comme Des Garcons"? Compared to this, itīs much easier to pull off a CdG embellished/printed Fred Perry, Lacoste, Moncler or whatever else they updating these days.

True, Yohjiīs got some difficulties to deliver his message to younger people, I canīt deny that I wasnīt a big fan either when I started to work with them. Even now, I have a hard time getting myself into the aesthetic of the menīs line, but I find the womenīs actually very substantial, even the most profane of basics is exceptional in the way it is craft, dyed or proportioned. People that are buying these clothes generally do so because there is something about the quality of his garments, not about the "cool" of wearing Yohji Yamamoto and I find this much more noble and honest than what I see is going on with Comme lately.


Last edited by tricotineacetat; 24-08-2005 at 04:48 AM.
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24-08-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricotineacetat
Oh, i think this is the worst one can do, comparing Yohji and Comme Des Garcons, I experienced this by myself many times when I spoke with our sales person at Yīs... I cannot understand though that you find Yohjiīs clothes so dated for the times we are in right now. Iīve been working with both companies and I must say that Comme always seemed to me as if it was "corporate driven" and trying to sell a lot of mediocre merchandise under the halo of Rei Kawakuboīs genius.

Their secondary lines, "CdG Shirt", "CdG CdG" as well as "Play" are a good example how they are selling clothes with very little substance as "latest avant garde from the sole visionairy in fashion" (-> Rei Kawakubo). I always wondered why nobody ever questioned her own reputation... itīs always taken for granted that sheīs so ahead of the pack and "hip", collaborating with hipster-favourites Collette and Corso Como... it definitely adds to the cool of the brand and is basically why you see so many (japanese) hipster people wearing poor CdG merchandise... how many are there that can pull off their mainlines, "Homme Plus" and "Comme Des Garcons"? Compared to this, itīs much easier to pull off a CdG embellished/printed Fred Perry, Lacoste, Moncler or whatever else they updating these days.

True, Yohjiīs got some difficulties to deliver his message to younger people, I canīt deny that I wasnīt a big fan either when I started to work with them. Even now, I have a hard time getting myself into the aesthetic of the menīs line, but I find the womenīs actually very substantial, even the most profane of basics is exceptional in the way it is craft, dyed or proportioned. People that are buying these clothes generally do so because there is something about the quality of his garments, not about the "cool" of wearing Yohji Yamamoto and I find this much more noble and honest than what I see is going on with Comme lately.
Tricot - you say that it's the worst thing to do, to compare the two brands, but that is exaclty what you do (your last sentence in particular) - it's just that you have a differenct conclusion.

To my mind the brands are apt for comparison, because of their origins, their history, how they've developed and the role they each played on being introduced to the Western fashion world in the eighties. It's an interesting comparison for those reasons. Comme haa certainly branched out more, and is clearly very corporate and business driven. I see comme now as more of a design collective, Yohji the more traditional atelier. But they are both extremely image driven, and it seems to me to be naive to suggest that people don't buy Yohji clothes for, to some extent, the image aspects of it (in particular the "intellectual" connotation, which is much stronger than for comme).

Some of comme's lines are getting too commercial though and verging on the meritless. Shirt and Play are things that I just wouldn't look at. However CdG CdG is on a completely different level to those lines, and in fact is much more in line with the Yohji aesthetic than any of hte other comme lines - it's classic Japanese fashion, not as fashion forward as the mainline. Comme Homme is the same as is the new Evergreen line. I think Junya's mainline is conceptually a genius idea in its simplicity, although sometimes the execution doesn't quite work. I think on the whole the collaboration and diversification ideas just about work, and they keep a vitality in the brand that Yohji doesn't have. (Having said that Yohji has also had a number of different lines, most of which are generally only sold in Japan (like the classic Noir line), and he also used to manufacture some of his mainline, using the exact same label, in France to cut prices.)

Yohji's aesthetic is singularly non-contemporary. He rarely cuts close to the body, which means that most younger people just won't find it appealling. That's fine but it does mean that it is in a sense rather old fashioned, which is the exact anti-thesis of avant guard. Fact is that what was avant -guard in the 80s isn't now, and Yohji is in danger of being left behind a bit. As I say, that's all well and good and it may be what he wants, but he also presumably wants to stay in business! The Yohji brand appeals to me too, but it's just all too big, too shapeless to feel right when you try it on. I agree that his womenswear is different - his pleated dresses from the summer were amazing - but there must be a very limited market for all of that kind of thing. I think he needs to do something to revitalise.

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24-08-2005
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Johnny, by comparing I meant that it is always a bad idea to discuss this matter with people working for either one of the two brands... itīs evident that their relation is not really the best... Andy, yeah, you are right, you *can* compare the two since they started the same movement back in the 80ies...

Itīs quite easy to just say Yohji cuts oversize, which is not always the case... Iīm more farmiliar with Yīs than with Yohji Yamamoto mainline, though. The collection in itself offers a wide variety of styles and itīs definitely not all oversize... he might style it this way on the runway and I think thatīs sometimes the weakness, the way it is shown on the runway is sometimes very shapeless and not so flattering - S/S 2005 was definitely a welcome break from this due to the corsets and very short bolero-style jackets. The way I am working with the collection is totally different than what they might probably do at a Yohji store - I usually use some of his skinny, demi-sheer pullovers to balance a full, crinoline-inspired skirt or the other way around, some of his oversized knits together with leggings or skinny drainpipes... itīs not that you donīt have these options with Yohji because these clothes are to be found in the collection to balance the shapeless pieces.

Itīs also not the case that young people are not buying these clothes - Itīs very funny the fact that all the roomy knits and sporty pants are sold to younger women. We eventually dropped Comme and increased Yohji because it was much, much easier to sell and approach, we still have loads of CdG CdG left from several seasons ago that we couldnīt even sell at 60% discount! This might be again a purely market-oriented insight, but itīs ultimately what helps to keep the company up, the amount of stores it is stocked by. Especially in Germany, there are a lot of stores that have dropped Comme lately.

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24-08-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricotineacetat
Johnny, by comparing I meant that it is always a bad idea to discuss this matter with people working for either one of the two brands... itīs evident that their relation is not really the best... Andy, yeah, you are right, you *can* compare the two since they started the same movement back in the 80ies...

Itīs quite easy to just say Yohji cuts oversize, which is not always the case... Iīm more farmiliar with Yīs than with Yohji Yamamoto mainline, though. The collection in itself offers a wide variety of styles and itīs definitely not all oversize... he might style it this way on the runway and I think thatīs sometimes the weakness, the way it is shown on the runway is sometimes very shapeless and not so flattering - S/S 2005 was definitely a welcome break from this due to the corsets and very short bolero-style jackets. The way I am working with the collection is totally different than what they might probably do at a Yohji store - I usually use some of his skinny, demi-sheer pullovers to balance a full, crinoline-inspired skirt or the other way around, some of his oversized knits together with leggings or skinny drainpipes... itīs not that you donīt have these options with Yohji because these clothes are to be found in the collection to balance the shapeless pieces.

Itīs also not the case that young people are not buying these clothes - Itīs very funny the fact that all the roomy knits and sporty pants are sold to younger women. We eventually dropped Comme and increased Yohji because it was much, much easier to sell and approach, we still have loads of CdG CdG left from several seasons ago that we couldnīt even sell at 60% discount! This might be again a purely market-oriented insight, but itīs ultimately what helps to keep the company up, the amount of stores it is stocked by. Especially in Germany, there are a lot of stores that have dropped Comme lately.
That's interesting. Maybe comme isn't quite as succesful as it sometimes seems. I know that Junya Man is sold by far fewer stores in the UK now than when it first started. You're right about the styling aspect of course, and also about Y's, esp for women. I really like the layered coloured knit tops that they do, and I agree that they look quite "young". Some Y's stuff is hideously oversized though, I maintain that! I don't get why it is so oversized - you pick up a jacket in the smallest available size and it is huge! It screams "80s architect" at you!

CdG CdG is not stocked on a wholesale basis by many UK stores at all, although Browns focus used to do it. Anyway that line has now been relaunched as a Japanese line of "classic" comme clothes - I think it used to be made in France and was a lot more frivolous than it is now. I'd be surprised if it wasn't more successful now - I really like it. It is very very expensive though, not far off mainline.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny
CdG CdG is not stocked on a wholesale basis by many UK stores at all, although Browns focus used to do it. Anyway that line has now been relaunched as a Japanese line of "classic" comme clothes - I think it used to be made in France and was a lot more frivolous than it is now. I'd be surprised if it wasn't more successful now - I really like it. It is very very expensive though, not far off mainline.
See, thatīs what I found was very suspicous - When I came in for their S/S 2005 showrooms, the prices had gone up again and it was very hard to tell why that was the case, given the fact that the clothes themselves - albeit being very nice in some parts - were pretty much on the same standard as before. I asked the people at Comme politely why this was the case and the only thing they told me in return was "Itīs Comme, everybody copies from us, youīre here because we are ahead of the others, you are paying for avant garde, we are not to be compared with the others". Also, the one thing they invited us with was "OK, Adrien (the director of CdG and husband of Rei Kawakubo) wants all our customers to reach the minimum orders this time... we donīt need people that donīt believe in what we are doing" ... sorry, these are things you will hardly ever get known with from the outside, but I cannot oversee their harsh tone... I never experienced a behaviour like this ANYWHERE in fashion...


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24-08-2005
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tricot - thats pretty arrogant behaviour isn't it.....that is one thing that has always left a bad taste in my mouth with Comme - their arrogance.

I guess the reality is that its true - they will separate the men from the boys (so to speak) - those with a true dedication to Comme and who will keep the balance sheet growing (or at least stable). Adrien knows there is a cult(ish) following who will be prepared to pay more .....

Its clever brand management. ...or is it all just supply & demand economics....? hmmm.


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24-08-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricotineacetat
See, thatīs what I found was very suspicous - When I came in for their S/S 2005 showrooms, the prices had gone up again and it was very hard to tell why that was the case, given the fact that the clothes themselves - albeit being very nice in some parts - were pretty much on the same standard as before. I asked the people at Comme politely why this was the case and the only thing they told me in return was "Itīs Comme, everybody copies from us, youīre here because we are ahead of the others, you are paying for avant garde, we are not to be compared with the others". Also, the one thing they invited us with was "OK, Adrien (the director of CdG and husband of Rei Kawakubo) wants all our customers to reach the minimum orders this time... we donīt need people that donīt believe in what we are doing" ... sorry, these are things you will hardly ever get known with from the outside, but I cannot oversee their harsh tone... I never experienced a behaviour like this ANYWHERE in fashion...
Hmmm, very interesting. Sounds a bit crap actually, not a very nice approach. Maybe the rent at DSM needs to be paid for by minimum order quotas!

I can certainly see a difference in CdG CdG from before, but they gave you the wrong answer to the question you put - they should be happy to explain the significance of the change to a retailer, who does of course have a bottom line. It's very arrogant.

This is all a bit OT, but interesting none the less.

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This kind of behaviour always scared me in a way, when a company ultimately exploits the customers that are willing to buy. These are indeed not the easiest of times to sell high-end designers, but all they do is keeping their stubborn arrogance... they wonīt listen when they hear the stores are not selling it, it always felt to me as if they donīt care for their stockists at all. What they are doing might work out for now, but it probably wonīt in the longview... everybody has got difficulties to sell, I doubt Comme is being snatched up from the racks that easily. There was plenty of stuff left from S/S when I had a look in the Parisian department stores.

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Originally Posted by tricotineacetat
This kind of behaviour always scared me in a way, when a company ultimately exploits the customers that are willing to buy. These are indeed not the easiest of times to sell high-end designers, but all they do is keeping their stubborn arrogance... they wonīt listen when they hear the stores are not selling it, it always felt to me as if they donīt care for their stockists at all. What they are doing might work out for now, but it probably wonīt in the longview... everybody has got difficulties to sell, I doubt Comme is being snatched up from the racks that easily. There was plenty of stuff left from S/S when I had a look in the Parisian department stores.
I still think comme sells quite well. A store in the Uk I know sold out of almost all of its summer stock for men, and I think DSM sells the mainline menswear well too. The arrogant approach is not so appealling, but having said that, they do have a legitimate intetrest in controlling how their product is sold and marketed. There's no point in all the image contruction that they get involved in and then lossing all control how the product is placed at market entry level. There is a store in Edinburgh that sells comme and I have no idea how they allow it to go into that store. It is a grusome little place like a dungeon and they completely overprice the product since there is no competition. It disgusts me; comme should not be seeling to that kind of place. (They also sell their end of season stock on ebay annonymously, which I'm sure can't be what comme have in mind!). Comme's attitidue is perhaps wrong, but the approach is not necessarily so. It's a mistake to think that high end fashion is democratic - it's not.

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absolutely johnny - at the end of the day Adrian & Rei can do whatever they like with their brand....but I suppose that its arguably short sighted to piss off the retailers selling the product....if thats what is happening. Its a chain and without the retailers the won't sell the product....unless they simply rely on their own shops and guerilla shops or others that they feel totally aligned with philosophically (like Colette/Corso Como/Pollyanna). At higher prices maybe thats all they need.

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OK, this has indeed gone a little off-topic, but Iīd just like to remind you that a lot of the goods that were not sold are brought to their Guerilla shops... Itīs actually very clever, to clear stock this way...

To get back on Yohji, I heard Yīs is not being distributed officially in the US, he? I think itīs a pity because itīs a very beautiful collection... I already had a look on S/S 2006 and it was VERY, very good - interesting takes on shirts, some smocked in the back for a dramatic drape, some with very high collars (either was in poplin or a silver-lame fabric)... again, loads of airy jacquard knits in a pattern much like a palestinian skarf - very good, distinct colours in fact - aquamarine blue, turquoise, bright (apple) greens, violets and the signature red to highlight all the black. Some great printworks too, some great, oversized polkadots on black (same colours as named before) or on knotwear - mythological japanese characters on red surface.

Iīm not a very summer-ish person but I loved these clothes a lot... and they prices were reasonable too, as far as I can remember ;-)...

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Is the Japanese fashion movement over?

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