1961 in Fukushima, Japan
The Japanese designer and visionary Junya Watanabe challenges preconceived notions of fashion with his highly innovative design aesthetics, clean lines, deconstructed tailoring and usage of advanced fabrics – or, “techno couture” – placing his eponymous fashion label at the forefront of the industry.
It comes perhaps as no surprise that Watanabe started out cutting his teeth – and cultivating his avant-garde taste – over at COMME des GARÇONS back in 1984, on the heels of graduating from Tokyo’s prestigious Bunka Fashion College. From pattern cutter to chief designer of the CdG Tricot line, he worked his way up the business, and started designing under his own name under the COMME des GARÇONS umbrella in 1992.
His breakout collection placing him in the history books of fashion was his Spring/Summer 2000 collection, titled ‘Function and Practicality’ – it showcased reversible pieces with models stopping mid-runway to undress and invert the garments, with a simulated rain cloud overhead also proving the collection to be waterproof. The stuff of legends. It wasn’t until 2001 however that he began producing menswear, and good thing he did.
Fast-forward to the present and Watanabe is responsible for some of the most forward-thinking, sought-after collectibles around, including collabs with the likes of Canada Goose, North Face, Carhartt, New Balance, Loewe, Puma, Levis and Converse.
Starts working for Rei Kawakubo at COMME des GARÇONS.
Begins designing under his own name for the brand, called ‘Junya Watanabe COMME des GARÇONS ’.
Shows first women’s collection in Paris.
His ground-breaking SS00 collection titled ‘Function and Practicality’ is shown with reversible, waterproof pieces (and a raincloud gliding down the runway).
Watanabe launches his menswear label Junya Watanabe under the mentorship of Rei Kawakubo. He also joins forces with Levi’s for the first out of several collaborations for the Poem Denim.
eYe Junya Watanabe Man GARÇONS is launched – an offshoot of Junya Watanabe Man Comme des Garçons and an umbrella group for collabs.
Under the eYe program Watanabe teams up with The North Face for the first time, forming an ongoing collaborative partnership for years to come.
Watanabe teams up with Converse to design a range of the iconic All-Star shoes featuring plaid pattern in two colorways. The same year the first Junya Watanabe x Nike collab drops, resurrecting sneakers from the 1970s.
An unexpected collaboration between New Balance and eYe Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garcons MAN is released, New Balance 1500.
For the Junya Watanabe x Carhartt collaboration Watanabe actually went into a Carhartt store and purchased 100 jackets and customized them, rather than actually having it manufactured by Carhartt. It comes in several colorways with heaps of details.
Watanabe’s eYe COMME des GARÇONS partners with Puma on a collection of T-shirts and long-sleeve polos with vintage typeface and comic graphics.
For FW16, Watanabe fuses his unique aesthetic with modern tech resulting in a solar-powered trench coat that can charge a smartphone.
Another The North Face collab results in Watanabe reworking a faux-fur hooded coat from the classic The North Face duffle bag. He secures a place in our Best Fashion Collaborations of 2017 award.
Watanabe’s well-received Fall/Winter 2018 collection pushes workwear to new heights, specializing in classics with a twist.