Six Men Who Defined Japanese Style

March 2018Words by Mr Ashley Clarke

Mr Yohji Yamamoto after the Y-3 show at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, 21 January 2017. Photograph by Ms Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

Japanese fashion means different things to different people. Some see it as the droves of monochrome-suited salarymen who pack themselves onto the Chūō line to Tokyo each morning. Others think of the stark image of Harajuku’s now-defunct hokoten, which was characterised by kids wearing saccharine outfits, famously documented by FRUiTS magazine and late-2000s pop songs written by Ms Gwen Stefani. For some, it’s the skulking fashion followers draped in all black, known in Japan as the karasu-zoku, or “crow gang”. Other people think of top-quality selvedge denim from Okayama, or vintage stores filled with Americana.

We have to admit that the Japanese – whether they’re designing clothes, educating the rest of us about them or just simply wearing them – have an enviable knack for style. That’s why you’ll find so many Japanese brands on MR PORTER and it’s also why, at the tail end of Tokyo Fashion Week, we’ve decided to shine a light on some of the men who have shaped Japanese fashion into the multifaceted beast it is in today. From some of the world’s most inimitable designers to the teacher who is educating the next generation, here are the men responsible for what fashion means when it is Japanese.