Yohji Yamamoto is the fashion world’s Batman… Both are renowned for their billowing blacks, they share a disregard for the well-trodden path, instead choosing to define their own way, and of course, they both personify effortless cool. It’s no wonder then that over the years, just like his comic book counterpart, Yohji Yamamoto has attracted his own band of dedicated fans across the globe.
In 1972 Yohji’s started Y’s, his first women’s ready to wear line. Many of the original Y’s pieces were fairly androgynous in design and you would be forgiven for mistaking some for menswear. This can make the business of buying vintage Yohji a little confusing at times.
Yohji presented his first menswear collection (Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme) in Paris in 1984, having launched his women’s main line, (Yohji Yamamoto), back in 1981. The Pour Homme line is home to Yohji’s most experimental and high quality pieces – the stuff that you’ll predominantly see in his catwalk shows. This is where many of his most quirky, iconic and desirable items can be found.
Yohji Yamamoto Costume D’homme generally tends to offer slightly more conventional design, whilst maintaining the wonderful feel and quality one associates with Yohji. Personally I love the suits in this line: beautifully crafted, wonderful subtle detailing and lovely loose cuts.
Y’s for men was an attempt to create a slightly more accessible clothing range. It was made up of the kind of items you could wear day-to-day, whilst still staying true to the Yohji design ethic, of bellowing cuts, dark shades and fine fabrics. It’s a great shame that, due to over-expansion and poor financial management, this line came to an end in 2009, when Yohji Yamamoto Inc. went through a period of restructuring.
There were a few off-shoots of the Y’s for men line. Y’s for men SHIRTS – as the name suggests, mainly (but by no means entirely) dealt with shirts, in much the same way that Comme des Garcons SHIRTS still does to this day.
Also, Y’s for men red label, a line designed in collaboration with Michiko Suzuki in 2006, inspired by the emotions of ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’.
Additionally to Y’s for men, and somewhat confusingly, there is also Y’s men’s label. If you recall, Yohji’s first creations were launched under the Y’s label, which was at the time only a women’s line. Y’s has since expanded to make both men’s and women’s clothes under the same label, so it can be tricky to identify which is which. I’ve bought items that said Y’s for men on the tag, yet the label on the garment just says Y’s, so when buying second-hand, you really need to know what to look out for. For the Y’s lines, my advice would be if the product code starts with an M then it’s almost always a men’s piece.
As well as the black Y’s men’s label pictured above, there’s a different line: Yohji’ Yamamoto Y’s ‘black label’. This branding, expressly using the name Yohji Yamamoto, perhaps suggests that he had a greater hand in designing these pieces himself, although I’m not sure if that’s the case or not.
Yohji Yamamoto Y was an Italian-based extension of the suit production line, launched in 2005. Despite having since having been discontinued, there are some great suits, ties and other accessories still out there to be found if you search.
Amongst the more rare lines you might come across are: Yohji Yamamoto Gothic Homme – a late 80s/early 90s line, with stark gothic influences – the women’s version of which is still running; Yohji Yamamoto Impermeable Homme – a late 80s line, mainly coats and outerwear; Y’s at work – a limited range of workwear; Y’s for living, which sells furniture, household items and bedwear; Yohji Yamamoto Jeans – high quality denin line made for the US/European markets; and Y’saccs, operating between 1986-2001, housing some of Y’s miscellaneous goods (watches, ties, bags, etc).
In 2011 Yohji Yamamoto Inc. launched S’yte, a fairly small, internet-based casual clothing line. Some great pieces, perhaps aimed at an entry level Yohji consumer.
Yohji Yamamoto REGULATION men debuted at Paris fashion week 2013. This line is said to be inspired by uniform and made “for men who love and pursue freedom.” Described upon launch as containing “the clothes the designer would like to wear, appealing not only to the existing fans but also to the potential customers of slender build.”
As well as the in-house lines, Yohji has collaborated many times – perhaps most famously with Y-3, the luxury street style brand made in conjunction with Adidas. The Y stands for Yohji (or is it Yamamoto, or both!) and the 3 represents the iconic three stripes of Adidas. Growing out of an earlier collaboration, Y-3 is one of Yohji’s most successful ventures and is still going strong to this day.
Another more commercially geared collaboration saw Yohji pair-up with Hong Kong fashion house A.A.R. (At All Risks) to produce the lines Yohji Yamamoto AAR D’Urban, and AAR Yohji design studio. The fabrics aren’t quite what you’d find in Yohji’s high-end lines, but there are still some gems to be found and at fairly reasonable prices too.
COMING SOON, described as a ‘super casual capsule collection’, launched in 2008 by Yohji Yamamoto and Italian design licensing company Sinv Spa. Yamamoto Inc’s then CEO Keizo Tamoto heralded it as “a more affordable line aimed at young consumers looking to trade up from streetwear to more elegant pieces”.
Yohji Yamamoto has produced footwear in all his main lines. Alongside Y-3, which makes a wide range of footwear, other notable collaborations have been produced with Dr Martens and Repetto.
Lastly, also worthy of note is the luggage and accessories collaboration between Yohji Yamamoto and Italian-based Mandarina Duck – Y’s Mandarina. How else is the dedicated Yohji consumer expected to travel in style?!