Yohji Yamamoto and The Rise of Modern Menswear


It seems that lately in fashion, it’s all about the boys. On July 13, New York will join all other fashion capitals in hosting a men’s fashion week of its very own, for the very first time. Jumping on the bandwagon where men are just as interested in fashion as women, New York is finally ready to capitalise on the ever-growing menswear market, a sector that has been outperforming womenswear (in terms of growth) year-on-year since 2009.

But it’s not only the interest in menswear that has changed. For decades men’s fashion has seen a slow and steady shift away from classic tailored suits to a more deconstructed and largely unconventional aesthetic. It’s all very anti-establishmentarian, and it’s all a bit strange.


Yohji Yamamoto by Elise Toide Photography

To pick apart this trend further, CNN recently spoke with the master of avant-garde himself, Yohji Yamamoto. At 71-years-old, the award-winning and influential Japanese designer has become known for his highly innovative tailoring and experimental collections, many of which feature key Japanese design aesthetics and the predominant colour palette: black.


Yohji Yamamoto Fall/Winter 2015

But despite his love of somber hues and curious silhouettes, Yamamoto still maintains that “menswear has to be fun…some sort of meaningless excitement, something you could laugh about.” Being stylish and good looking is not enough, he told CNN. A sense of humour and some kind of self-derision are also crucial.

Perhaps this is why, in Yamamoto’s latest spring/summer menswear collection shown last week in Paris, models displayed equal measures of ripe sophistication and boyish spirit. From slouched dark suits featuring sporty stream lined pin stripes, to more wild ensembles adorned with painterly splashes of orange, pink and grey, each outfit was truly and distinctly Yamamoto.

Yohji Yamamoto Men's RTW Spring 2016

Yohji Yamamoto Men’s RTW Spring 2016

Yohji Yamamoto Men's RTW Spring 2016

Yohji Yamamoto Men’s RTW Spring 2016

Yohji Yamamoto Men's RTW Spring 2016

Yohji Yamamoto Men’s RTW Spring 2016

The designer also incorporated some unique artworks, displayed across the fronts of shirts: sketches of men walking dogs and playing guitars.

Yohji Yamamoto Men's RTW Spring 2016

Yohji Yamamoto Men’s RTW Spring 2016

The collection was a fusion of comfort, power and control, with an unconventional twist.

It is this highly eccentric flavour that sets Yamamoto apart from the rest of the designer crowd. “I simply cannot stand people’s tendency to become conservative,” the designer told CNN, going on to add that, “…a charming man always has something clunky, clumsy.”

“When I see too fashionable people, I think something is wrong with them, so I always ask them ‘Are you ok?’”

And perhaps that is the very direction of modern menswear today. In a world where the everyday man is free to take his fashion with a side of avant-garde, we are beginning to embrace a new style of charm. One that is clumsy, clunky, and as Yamamoto’s latest collection has proven, very, very becoming.

You can read CNN’s full interview with Yohji Yamamoto here.

(Featured image: Yohji Yamamoto by Nicolas Guerin for The Talks)

Kathryn Carter is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. She writes about art and fashion, and enjoys collecting peculiarly shaped leaves during long walks in the park.

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