Known for their use of heavy materials, dark colors, and bold design, COMME des GARÇONS brings quite the edge to the world of fashion. In fact, the iconic Japanese brand can be spotted just about anywhere and is especially known for their simple red heart with two eyes logo. The designer streetwear brand has been referred to as ragged chic, high end grunge, and anything but frilly. Blurring the lines between masculine and feminine, COMME des GARÇONS brings a fresh perspective to high end fashion and bold new garments made for any type of person. They are considered one of Japan’s top clothing brands.
But who exactly are the masterminds behind this leading fashion house?
Rei Kawakubo is the designer who first started the COMME des GARÇONS label in Tokyo, Japan in 1969 and officially established the company in 1973. The brand’s name was inspired by one of Kawakubo’s favorite songs, “Tous les garçons et les filles” by the infamous musician, Francoise Hardy. There is a particular line in that song that goes “Comme les garçons et les filles de mon âge” that particularly grabbed Kawakubo’s attention. And thus, the name COMME des GARÇONS, translating to “Like Boys”, was born (1).
From there, the brand boomed. Rei Kawakubo found wild success very early on in the ‘70’s in Japan and the official menswear line as launched in 1978, pushing COMME des GARÇONS to success. The fashion house took on their first debut show in 1981 in Paris – Rei Kawakubo’s first ever fashion show. Kawakubo named her first show “Destroy” which become fitting as fashion experts everywhere were not shy to hold back their opinions on the controversial fashion brand. With Kawakubo’s heavy use of black materials and distressed fabrics, some of her designed were viewed negatively by French critics. Although it wasn’t the outcome she was hoping for, it did put her fashion house on the map.
Kawakubo continued with her already established vision for COMME des GARÇONS. With unfinished seams, distressed or punk oriented style, the brand took off through the ‘90’s as an iconic grunge aesthetic. It wasn’t until 2004 that the company split into handmade garments coming out of France, and non-handmade garments coming out of Japan, Turkey, and Spain. Some of their French handmade fashion lines include Tricot, Homme Plus Evergreen, Ganryu, and Deux. Their other product line, Play, which is among their most popular line is produced in Japan. Play offers a casual, comfortable line of clothes from the famous fashion house, and is known for their iconic red heart with two eyes. The heart logo was designed by Filip Pagowski and is stitched onto each Play clothing.
Over the years, the company has consistently associated themselves in the arts and cultural projects internationally. They have collaborated with big brands such as Hammerthor, H&M, Nike, and even Louis Vuitton. While COMME des GARÇONS may be an unusual brand choice, wearing one of their garments is without a doubt, wearing a piece of art.