10 Legendary Japanese Fashion Designers You Need To Know

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Japan may be a small country, but this nation has produced some of the most incredible designers – here are just 10 Japanese fashion designers you need to know about.

Over the years, some of the most creative and innovative fashion designers have come from Japan, producing striking and ground-breaking collections in the fashion world each season. If you are looking to add a few more eye-catching pieces to your wardrobe, then this list of Japanese fashion designers has some amazing designers and brands that you should go for.

10 Top Japanese Fashion designers

1. Kenzo Takada

Kenzo Takada founded his namesake brand in 1970 after moving to Paris in 1964. Takada combined his Japanese heritage with the construction of European fashions to create some totally unique pieces.

His very first boutique featured jungle-inspired décor, which now influences some of his clothing designs and the instantly recognizable Tiger logo – as you can see on this gorgeous Classic Tiger Logo Sweatshirt.

Sweaters emblazoned with the Tiger logo have become a cult classic piece and have been worn by Beyonce, Jay Z, Lorde, and Rihanna. In September 2021, Kenzo appointed Nigo, a fellow Japanese fashion designer, as the creative director of his label.

2. Nigo

Nigo is not only a fashion designer but also a DJ, record producer, and part of the Japanese hip-hop group Teriyaki Boyz.

In the early 2000s, Nigo founded his own fashion brand, named A Bathing Ape, or Bape for short, first offering t-shirts and hoodies, before adding sneakers to the collection which became an instant success.

In 2020, Nigo collaborated with Virgil Abloh to create a capsule collection for Louis Vuitton, then the following year he was appointed the creative director of Kenzo. His DJing and hip hop music influence the style of his Bape street style clothing line, displayed by this bold graffiti ape print oversized T-shirt.

3. Rei Kawakubo
White high top Converse x Comme des Garcons sneakers
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Rei Kawakubo is one of the biggest and most famous Japanese designers in the fashion industry. Kawakubo founded her luxury brand, Comme Des Garçons in 1973, although the label had been creating smaller collections since 1969. She also launched the retailer Dover Street Market in 2004.

Rei Kawakubo’s designs are striking in how they play with form and construction and subvert the usual female silhouette – all of these aspects were highlighted in her 2017 MET Costume Institute exhibition, titled ‘Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, Art of the In-Between’.

The Comme Des Garçons collections are shown at Paris Fashion Week each season, plus they have a more affordable line, Comme Des Garçons Play, where these Converse collaboration sneakers are from.

4. Junya Watanabe
Black Junya Watanabe asymmetric coated-finish belted coat
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Junya Watanabe is from the same generation of designers as Rei Kawakubo, with unique and unexpected designs and silhouettes. Watanabe was in fact a protégé of Kawakubo and spent time designing a line for Comme Des Garçons.

Watanabe is also known for innovative clothing, making use of contemporary fabric advancements and computer technology, which is displayed in the Junya Watanabe collections in Paris four times a year.

This asymmetric coated-finish belted coat displays how Watanabe plays with existing designs to create a really attention-grabbing piece.

5. Issey Miyake
White and black Issey Miyake Prism Tote
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Issey Miyake founded his eponymous brand in the 1970s and it has gone on to become one of the biggest fashion brands in the world with its incredible fashion collections, as well as famous fragrances.

Again, technology drives his designs, as is clear in the Pleats Please collection and Bao Bao bags, as pictured above. Issey Miyake is a favorite brand with celebrities, even making lots of black turtlenecks specifically for Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

There are many different lines produced by the Issey Miyake design studio, so you are bound to find a piece that’s perfect for you!

6. Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto is an incredibly talented designer and tailor, known for his Japanese culture and design inspirations and traditional construction and tailoring.

Yohji Yamamoto has won many awards for his stunning designs and contribution to fashion. The first Yamamoto fashion show took place in 1977 in Tokyo, then shows in Paris and New York followed in the 1980s. The oversized silhouettes and drapery create beautiful designs and allow freedom of movement.

The silhouette and draping are particularly important as most Yamamoto designs are made in black. We love the classic, timeless look of this monochrome logo print oversized T-shirt.

 
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7. Hanae Mori

Hanae Mori founded her namesake brand alongside her husband Ken Mori in 1951 and was the first Asian woman to be admitted into the official haute couture design house in France.

Mori’s designs quickly proved popular and she began designing the uniforms for Japan airline flight attendants as well as the uniforms for the Japanese athletes at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Mori, who became nicknamed Madame Butterfly, announced her retirement in 2004 and she held her very last fashion show in July 2004. This means the only way to get how of the striking Hanae Mori designs is through resale sites, such as Vestaire Collective, where this black handbag is from.  

8. Jun Takahashi
Navy Undercover graphic-print crew-neck sweatshirt
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Jun Takahashi is the founder and designer of the high-end streetwear brand, Undercover. This label offers men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing with simple silhouettes and bold, eye-catching prints and graphic design.

This contemporary punk-inspired fashion style proved popular in Japan even before Takahashi was convinced by Rei Kawakubo to present his collections at Paris Fashion Week.

Undercover continues to be a wildly popular streetwear brand and has more recently taken part in collaborations with several other brands, most notably Supreme, Nike and Uniqlo, to create unique capsule collections. This graphic-print sweatshirt is typical of Undercover’s playful and striking designs.

9. Shinsuke Takizawa
Black Neighborhood dragon-embroidered Souvenir jacket
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Shinsuke Takizawa loved fashion from a young age and was heavily influenced by London’s punk style in the 1980s.

After attending fashion school in Tokyo and working at hip hop record label Major Force, Takizawa founded his own streetwear label Neighborhood.

Takizawa loves motorcycles and decided his brand should fill the gap in the market for high-quality, stylish motorcycle apparel, with military and workwear influences. We love this gorgeous dragon-embroidered Souvenir jacket, available for just $538, which will add a glam rock touch to any look for years to come.

10. Chitose Abe
Grey Sacai Women's Layered Mohair & Wool Blend Sweater
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Chitose Abe is the founder of Sacai, which was launched in 1999, and is known for incredible craftsmanship, paired-back aesthetics, and the mixing of two clothes together to create a new look.

Abe worked at both Comme Des Garçons under Rei Kawakubo and as a part of the Junya Watanabe design team before launching her own brand. After the brand became wildly popular in Japan, Sacai expanded into Europe and began showing collections at Paris Fashion Week in 2009.

The label has now grown with a Sacai Luck line and Sacai Men’s line and is available from over 90 stockists worldwide. This Layered Mohair & Wool Blend Sweater shows the minimalist, high-quality aesthetic of the Sacai brand.

We hope you loved this list of 10 Japanese Fashion Designers! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below. 

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