Comme des Garçons

Founded by Rei Kawakubo in 1969

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Daughter of a University lecturer, Rei Kawakubo originally studied fine art at Keio University, Tokyo. After graduating she went on to work in the advertising department of a chemical company. Uninspired she moved onto working as a freelance stylist in 1967.

In 1973 she established her own business, Commes des Garçons, French for “like the boys”. Initially starting as a denim-heavy brand, two years later she presented her collection in Tokyo. The success followed by Kawakubo opening her first boutique in Tokyo.

In 1978 Kawakubo launched a menswear collection. Three years later, Kawakubo took Comme des Garçons to Paris, debuting her all-black anti fashion designs, Kawakubo shocked her audiences.

In 1982 Kawakubo opened a boutique in Paris. With random ruching, deconstructed garments and asymmetric seams, Kawakubo’s designs caused a strange new style.

The early nineties saw Kawakubo publish a biannual magazine ‘Six’, standing for sixth sense, comprising of pictures that inspire her.

In 1992 Kawakubo offered Junya Watanabe the opportunity to launch his own line under the Comme Des Garçons umbrella. ‘Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garçons’ presented its first collection in Paris, for spring/summer 1994.

1996 saw Kawakubo guest editor of art publication Visionaire. That same year Kawakubo experimented with padding to create humps and was given the nickname Quasimodo by the press.

Kawakubo and Watanabe co-designed the Comme des Garçons Homme collection in 2003 which was previously under the direction of Keiichi Tanaka.

In 2004 Kawakubo launched Dover Street Market. The multilevel store holds the Comme Des Garçons collections and other personally invited designers. Each designer has a creative space that they can design in any way. The store often features limited edition pieces, made available only for Dover Street Market.

Kawakubo again offered a designer their own line under the label, this time Tao Kurihara. Launching womenswear line ‘Tao Comme des Garçons’ in 2005, the small and concentrated collection was inspired around a singular theme each season.

The label collaborated with Swedish high street retailer H&M in 2008.

Kawakubo’s avant-garde aesthetic was seen with a commercial expertise in A-lined, wool tailcoats, deconstructed jackets, and polka dot shirts.

In 2009, in response to the economic downturn, Kawakubo launched the Black line. The following year Comme des Garçons teamed up with Paco Rabanne to reintroduce a bag from 1969.

In 2011 it was announced the company would close Tao Comme des Garçons. Designer Kurihara decided to focus purely on the Tricot Comme des Garçons label.

Known for having an input in all areas of her business, Kawakubo likes to be involved in the graphic design, advertising and shop interiors with the beliefs that all these things are part of one vision and should be closely linked.

Rei Kawakubo is designer of iconic status. Finding pleasure in contradiction, Kawakubo has developed Comme des Garçons with her truly avant-garde aesthetic creating a cult following for the fashion house around the world. The deconstructed and abstract style used by the Comme des Garçons creates breathtaking anti-fashion.

Comme des Garçons Girl, launched in 2015, embodies Rei Kawakubo’s feminine interpretation of the Comme des Garçons aesthetic. It explores a sweeter and flirtier side of the brand, appealing to women who embrace romanticised realities while still appreciating Kawakubo’s eccentric approach to style.

CDG, launched in 2018, is a bold, sleek, and youthful label that focuses on direct-to-consumer fashion. With logo-centric styles, the brand has gained a devoted following through organic marketing. It has become a favourite among socialites, often spotted at fashion week events.

The Comme des Garçons PLAY x Converse collaboration is renowned for its coolness. These premium Chuck Taylors offer a fresh and fun approach to fashion, reminding us to embrace creativity, especially when it comes to footwear.

Another notable collaboration is between Comme des Garçons and Nike, which combines the strengths of two influential brands. Whether it’s the jewel-adorned Nike Shox sneakers or the vibrant pink Nike Air 180 pack, each silhouette from this partnership is highly sought-after. It leaves us eagerly anticipating what innovative creations they will unveil next.

Comme des Garçons Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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