Japanese design makes its name at home and overseas

Special To The Japan Times

In Japanese fashion this month, we see two local designers embarking on international careers by taking over one of Italy’s most well-known brands, along with a new two-day fashion and lifestyle market in Harajuku, with attractions for the whole family.

Costume National fall-winter 2018 menswear
Costume National fall-winter 2018 menswear

Storied Italian brand Costume National has named two Japanese designers to take over from its founding designer, Ennio Capasa. Yasutoshi Ezumi of his namesake brand will head womenswear, while Koji Udo of Factotum will helm the duties of menswear. The announcement came after brothers Ennio and Carlo Capasa retired in March last year, after around 30 years of taking their label to international fame.

Founded in Milan in 1986, it rode the wave of minimalism with sharp silhouettes and black- and white-heavy palettes. The degree of separation to Japan isn’t as far as one would think, with Ennio working as an assistant to Yohji Yamamoto in the 1980s before establishing his brand. Now the connection has come full circle, with a Japan-led rebirth in full swing, comprising a mainly Japanese design team as well as the two new chief designers.

Costume National fall-winter 2018 womenswear
Costume National fall-winter 2018 womenswear

Ezumi, for his part, has already proved he has the required edgy-chic minimalist DNA. His slew of acclaimed shows since 2010 placed emphasis on simplicity with a twist, as seen in his singular asymmetrical designs. Meanwhile, Udo is known for his “outsider” take on tailoring for men, eschewing staid traditional cuts for more street-wear inspired looks.

It goes without saying that it is a rare occurrence indeed for a Japanese designer to be given the reins of a Western fashion house, but both Ezumi and Udo have been swiftly collecting accolades during their careers, so expectations are deservedly high. The new collection for fall-winter 2017 is hitting major Costume National boutiques in just Japan (in places such as Ginza Six, the Aoyama Store and Fukuoka Store) and Hong Kong this month, and from spring to summer 2018 the designers will be taking the show on the road to a global audience.

www.costumenational.com

There are certainly plenty of markets with various kinds of booths in Tokyo to keep you busy for an entire year, but you may want to make room for one more, especially if you’re particularly interested in fashion, design and Harajuku subculture.

Tondabayashi goods at VOILLD
Tondabayashi goods at VOILLD

This weekend (Sept. 2-3), under the banner of “One Idea,” Laforet Harajuku is holding its very first Laforet Market on the fifth floor of the fashion mall building. It is purely a “C to C” affair, meaning creator to customer, and will host 45 creators with their brands. The event looks to cover every aspect of a fun and funky Tokyoite’s lifestyle, from fashion, interior design and art to music, books and food.

What kind of booths are there to see? For fashion, don’t miss the Dept., one of the most famous vintage shops in the city, or the poetic designs of Spoken Words Project. For lifestyle, there’s food from buzzy Oku-Shibuya restaurant Life and quirky doodads from art gallery Voilld.

ma.macaron embroidered accessory
ma.macaron embroidered accessory

There will also be numerous workshops held for various fees over both days. One is an embroidery and accessory making class by local brand ma.macaron, which is known for its seriously silly creations (¥7,000 per person for a two-hour workshop). Also, stop by the Gossette Tape Records workshop where, for ¥2,000, the popular sax-jammers YJ Sax Duo will create a personal “caricature song” based on how you look. They’ll record it on a cassette tape, so bust out the boombox first. Entry to the market is free, but for more information on fees for workshops, as well as on the various booths, visit the website.

bit.ly/laforetmarket