Niche or mass? This might be fashion’s biggest dilemma ever. In romantic languages we call fashion “mode, moda, modă, etc.” which is also a mathematical term, “mode”, in English. Mode stands for the most repeated value, and in that sense, mass would always prevail. That’s why Yamamoto is a true anti-fashion, a true anti-mode, simply because the idea of more, more people, the common is antagonistic to the Yohji Yamamoto concept.
Now, there are more designers than we wish to count, designers who are trying to exist within that anti-fashion bubble, and despite a marathon of new competition, Yohji Yamamoto sits still to this day in the throne of anti-fashion, along a few other designers and brands. What then could be the secret to Yamamoto’s success?
I imagine very well that there must be administrative elements and operational ideas that contribute to the business success of the Yohji Yamamoto brand, which I would really love to investigate, but I’m going to focus on the design features that seem the most important, these are also features that I also see being neglected by most new designers who fail trying to emulate the anti-fashion formula:
Authentic timelessness: Fashion is a cruel singing mermaid. So much of what you see and hear from the fashion system is ideas like “trends”, “the new thing”; and sure you will get certain advantages if you follow or happen to be inside the right trend or new idea, but this scheme is a time bomb for new designers and brands, because if you base your whole concept out of something as temporary as trends, your value is in the trash can in the blink of an eye. That’s not the case of Yohji Yamamoto, his aesthetic and wardrobe codes have remained consistent all through his career, his design and craftsmanship seems to only get better and better. It is a brand to be trusted, you know as you wear or buy a Yamamoto piece that the meaning and value of that piece is going to remain constant in time. Proof of this fact is how Yohji Yamamoto clothes happen to be some of the archive pieces that sell the best on resell platforms like Vestière Collective, X-Stock, Grilled, etc.
A Fierce Artist Vision: In the XXI century, We could say that the artist’s job is to see. Yohji Yamamoto is well known for his outstanding skills in constructing and making clothes, which also makes him almost a philosopher of clothing making (A conclusion you can quickly make yourself if you listen to him talking about the subject). Probably his profound involvement in the process of making his pieces is what allows the designer to make sure the finished products are as breathtaking and beautiful as they are.
Images: Yohji Yamamoto SS21 Men’s look book.