Written by Vicky Layton
Icons of Style
16th September 2019
Icons Of Style: Rei Kawakubo
Whether you’re familiar with streetwear or not, I’m pretty sure everyone has crossed paths with the brand ‘Comme des Garçons’ recently. The creative mastermind behind a brand which has broken down a severe variety of conventions within the fashion industry has become quite an institution within the streetwear section. With collaborations with brands such as Supreme, Rei Kawakubo‘s legacy will be remembered as the successful breakthrough of a western-orientated approach in the Asian fashion realm. With this in mind, let’s try and break down the mastermind known as Rei Kawakubo.
Like many fashion designers who found success within the streetwear sector, Rei isn’t trained in fashion design. Rei was the oldest between her siblings, but this didn’t stop her from embracing design in her spare time. Comme des Garçons’ early beginnings were showing a little bit of western art, which Rei studied at university, using generally disruptive designs combined with particularly minimalistic roots. What happened at the beginning of Comme des Garçons’ story, would have been the future of the brand: westernised-streetwear fashion.
As mentioned above, Comme des Garçons has collaborated with many brands of all sizes over the years. Rei’s very own brand has made iconic pieces with fashion designers from Vans, Supreme and Nike. Of course, the vast majority of Comme des Garçons’ brand awareness came from an iconic collaboration with Supreme, which (in its first run) amounted for over $2 million in revenue for both the brands. The iconic ‘split box logos’ (or “SPOGOS”) have still got a 75% increase on the reselling market. Comme des Garçons as a whole is set to collaborate with other designers during the last part of 2019. Maybe another Supreme one perhaps?
Footwear: The Future of Fine Branding
Comme des Garçons’ second most iconic collaboration was definitely the one with Converse. The well-renowned “play” sneakers have literally been worn by celebrities, influencers and big personalities all around the globe. The fine, but yet distinctive touch which combined two relatively different words was highly taken into consideration by a lot of men’s streetwear independent brands, who have combined relatively simple designs with fine, distinctive branding.
Although extremely popular for their Play clothing line, Comme des Garçons has become an institution because of Rei Kawakubo’s drive to associate the western culture with something which was mostly Asian-based, such as streetwear. An icon for every fashion designer in the world and a model for everyone who was willing to break-through cultural barriers.