Japan’s Future in Fashion

May 19, 2023

Two years ago, COVID-19 took Kenzo Takada, founder of legendary fashion house Kenzo. This August, Hanae Mori, dressmaker for empresses, passed away of old age. Even audiences thousands of miles away found themselves mourning the loss of the phenomenal Issey Miyake, who passed away earlier in the same month. With the loss of these three fashion giants, Japanese fashion finds itself heartbreakingly orphaned.

However, there are more visionaries to fill that void. Japanese designers are slowly starting to utilize that newfound creative space.

At the S/S 2023 show for Issey Miyake at September’s Paris Fashion Week, head designer Satoshi Kondo paid his respects to the late pioneer by embossing words of tribute on sheets of washi paper, a design medium that greatly fascinated Miyake. The 53-piece collection itself embodied his old-meets-new flair with “Resonant Suit” garments made out of fossil-fuel-free polyester featuring intricate, soft folds and an unrestrained function-first drape, as was Miyake’s wont.

Satoshi Kondo is heard to have said, “Moving forward, as we have always done in the past, we will challenge ourselves to create original, unprecedented clothing that brings a sense of joy and wonder – building upon what is true to the brand’s identity.”

Elsewhere, Nigo (Tomoaki Nagao) is bringing a flavor of his own to Kenzo as its artistic director. Nigo’s A Bathing Ape streetwear brand is still at the forefront of the intersection between pop culture and fashion, and one of the rare instances where the latter seems to drive the former.

TAAKK founder and Issey Miyake alumnus Takuya Morikawa does not believe in letting loss slow growth: “We need to do our best to not let these designers’ deaths impact the fashion world. If that happens, it means we’re doing our job badly.”
“I believe there is hope in design. Design evokes surprise and joy in people,” famously uttered Miyake. Perhaps in the act of designing lies the way forward, and if nothing else, that alone will surely be exciting to witness.