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My Attempts with Yohji Yamamoto in Ginza

Kaijiro Masuda

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.88

I’m a total fashion show addict. For seven years, I went and saw nearly every Men’s Fashion Week in Paris and Milan, Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence, and Fashion Week in Tokyo, a pace of some 250 shows a year. I have so many opportunities to write runway reviews, people tend to think of me as a dedicated follower of the high fashion camp. In fact, during my youthful and impressionable years in the 1980s and 1990s, I spent no time whatsoever with so-called designer brands. I was interested in Antwerp Six and Martin Margiela but, in my twenties, I preferred certain brands, known to the cognoscenti in America and Europe, that would be found in mixed label store or boutique.

At the start of the 2000s, I encountered two brands known for their powerful aesthetics: TOKITO by Tokihito Yoshida and m’s braque by Takahiro Matsushita. They opened my eyes to the appeal of designer brands. Since then, as the years have passed, my notion of the possible when selecting clothing has expanded; now it’s completely out of hand. I even willingly accept the challenge posed by domestic brands from young hardly-20 designers. I still really admire designer brands from America and Europe, I would hasten to add. At one time, in the 1980s, I wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing designer brands: now, I’m all over them at vintage clothing shops. My waistline expands every year, which holds me back some, but now I’m into wearing anything I like.

All this is to say I’ve been somewhat inconsistent, but to this day, I’ve never worn Yohji Yamamoto’s clothing. Yamamoto’s reach and power today is amazing. Men’s fashion shows in Paris admit 250 guests at most. Fans without invitations stand waiting in several lines that trail around the venue; the atmosphere is unique. Sales are remarkable both globally and in Japan, with a veritable explosion of millennial fans over the past several years. It’s fair to say Yamamoto and Kawakubo are the only designers anywhere in the world able to enthrall the equivalent of their grandchildren’s generation. Consider that the designer is of my parents’ generation: that speaks to divine powers.

Yohji Yamamoto’s clothes don’t necessarily look good on everyone. I see pieces season after season I really want to wear, though I don’t personally like wearing a single brand and can’t ever make up my mind on what to get. And at such times, Ground Y comes to mind. It offers up an ageless gender-agnostic style; Yamamoto when he’s come back down to Earth, you might say. I’ve also heard the line features numerous perennial standards. So, all this in mind, I head to the fourth floor of GINZA SIX to find my very first Yamamoto.

I haven’t been this excited on a sales floor for a while. I’m among the more experienced when it comes to fashion, but I actually have trouble finding pieces I can actually wear, something that wears on my patience. The Yamamoto fans I know personally, like the model and photographer Kyohei Hattori and model and celebrity Rui Kurihara, are all tall and slender, with ideal figures. How is someone like me, short and rotund, supposed to find fashion that flatters me in particular?

I pick up these two pieces: an asymmetric shirt (38,000 yen; all prices listed before tax) that combines mellow draped Tencel Burberry and Technorama Tengu and a cape (76,000 yen) made from a standard wool/polyester gabardine fabric. Just looking at them convinces me feel like I can wear either, and I try them on with renewed confidence.

Oops. I do have a number of capes in my wardrobe, and I wear them regularly without the slightest hesitation, but the level of difficulty this one presents is off the charts. Let’s quit this adventure and try on something more basic. I ask for assistance from one of the good-looking young attendants.

“This is popular with older people as well. It’s something anyone can wear.” The article being recommended here happens to be this double-breasted long coat (58,000 yen) made from light and smooth Tencel Burberry. Buttoned all the way up, it both emanates high fashion mystique and completely wraps up my portly frame: something actually suitable for daily wear. And it’d go perfectly over a business suit without seeming a stitch out of place. All in all, one of those delightful articles that help you find a new you, even as the years continue to toll.

My next visit is to discord Yohji Yamamoto on the second floor, a luxury accessory brand from Yohji Yamamoto, a designer who’s turned conventional fashion wisdom on its head since his debut in 1972.

I’m drawn first to the umbrella collection (128,000 yen). I lift one and exclaim, involuntarily, “Wow!” It’s startingly light. The shaft and ribs are made of carbon. The feel as it opens and closes is precise, silky, and luxurious beyond description. The canopy is high-density polyester. A unique weave is applied to the fabric so that it sheds water like a lotus leaf. Amazing! The price with tax is north of 140,000 yen, so it’s up there, but they tell me they’ve sold two today, an early evening of a weekday. I make a mental note that GINZA SIX patrons are equally amazing.

The difficulty posed by the bags is pretty high for me, so I take refuge in the accessories. Hung around one’s neck, this small case (39,000 yen) with its kabuki motif makes a pleasing accent.

The white daruma is also appealing. The smartphone folder on the left (39,000 yen) fits your iPhone, of course, but would also be great for cards and cash. Maybe I’ll take one on my next Fashion Week assignment.

Shoulder bags that go over just one shoulder tend to be associated with women, but we live a gender-free age. It strikes me it’d be fun for dating or married couples to share a bag.

My attempts at Yamamoto have drained me. It’s not grit I need, but an infusion of fried food. I like pommes frites, or French fries, about as much as white rice, and I’ve had a rice cooker-like fryer, an essential item in European homes, since college. I make homemade fries on a fairly regular basis. These are, beyond a doubt, the major reason for my 92 cm waist. So I head to AND THE FRIET, a French fry specialist on the second belowground floor inspired by authentic Belgian frites. Actually, the GINZA SIX location doesn’t fry the fries on site; they specialize in snackable dried fries.

Put simply, these dried fries are the gourmet version of Calbee’s Jagabee snacks. They come in delectable flavors that make one’s mouth water just listening to the names: Premium Salt, Balsamic & Pepper, Black Truffle Salt, Honey Salt & Butter, and Anchovy & Garlic. You can sample all the flavors at the store and crunch away without hesitation. They’re all really, really good, but my favorite is Black Truffle Salt.

They also sell drinks to take the edge off deep-fried guilt. Honey Lemon Water (550 yen) is refreshing and not too sweet. Adieu, deep fry frets and fears!

I buy DRIED FRIET – OKAMOCHI (3,210 yen), a six pack assortment. I don’t want just one, I want to try them all! It’s celebrity couch potato night for me tonight!

…later that night, in restive dreams, Yamamoto declaims “Lose some weight already!”—and follows up with a startlingly athletic dropkick—but that’s just between you and me.

Text: Kaijiro Masuda Photos: Yuya Kobayashi Edit: Yuka Okada(edit81)

editors_masuda

Kaijiro Masuda

Born in 1972. Worked as a magazine editor and textile industry reporter before becoming a freelance fashion journalist. A unique figure in the industry, he covers both men’s and women’s fashion across a wide range of genres. Author of Shibuya Casual Made Me Who I Am (Kodansha).

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Ground Y

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AND THE FRIET

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2019.11.06 improves