• Sanjali Verma

A Glimpse into the Avant-Garde with Yohji Yamamoto

Avant-Garde fashion stems from the avant-garde art movement, primarily based on creating radical, unorthodox or experimental work. Avant-garde is a French term that translates to “advanced guard”, implying forward-thinking and progressive work, i.e., work that pushes the conventional boundaries.


One such designer whose name is synonymous with avant-garde fashion is Yohji Yamamoto. Born in Tokyo in 1943, Yamamoto was raised by his dressmaker mother, who owned her tailoring shop in Kabukicho. Initially having the intention of becoming a lawyer after graduation, he experienced a change of heart because of the desire to help and learn from his mother while working in her shop. Determined to lead his career in fashion, Yamamoto went on to study at the Bunka College of Fashion. On discovering his true colours as a designer, he launched his first label WISE in 1972. He was obsessed with the idea of women wearing men's clothing and once said, “I think my men's clothes look as good as women's clothing.”


Looking to expand his name, Yamamoto moved to Paris in 1981. The 1983 spring/summer collection for WISE got a great deal of attention from the press. Many appreciated the historical influence and recognised Yamamoto as the protagonist of the destruction movement. Taking his creativity a step further, Yamamoto also became one of the first fashion designers to cross over to sportswear. Sparking up a partnership with Adidas in 2002 as creative director, the collaboration brought the Y3 collection to life, which has remained a tremendous success for over a decade.


At this point of his career, Yamamoto has developed a dedicated global following with his two main lines, YOHJI YAMAMOTO and WISE, netting over 100 million dollars of sales for over multiple decades. His career can be highlighted by his continuous challenging of the fashion quo and his ability to make the unorthodox seem normal.

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