It’s commonplace for young designers to cut their teeth at larger fashion houses before venturing out on their own, and no company has produced more future superstars than Rei Kawakubo’s COMME des GARÇONS. Perhaps the most famous of these is Junya Watanabe, who started at CdG as a patternmaker before being given his own label by Kawabuko back in the early ’90s.
Kawakubo has given lines to several other designers including Tao Kurihara, Fumito Ganryu and Kei Nomiya, as well as mentoring others who went on to start their own lines including Chitose Abe of Sacai and Junichi Abe of Kolor. The abundance of talent can be accredited to the creative freedom afforded to designers by Kawakubo, explains Adrian Joffe, president of COMME des GARÇONS International:
“Kawakubo gives them total freedom to do what they want,” he explains. “She sees and checks their collections the day before launching them, but it is very rare that she makes any changes. She will discuss strategy, budgets and policy with them at first — and is always available for advice, should they need it — but then she really leaves them free.”
Check out a full exploration of the phenomenon over on Business of Fashion.