Designers

Fashion Biography

Rei Kawakubo, Fashion Designer

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Fashion Designer Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garcons, was born in Tokyo in 1942. Being untrained as a fashion designer, but having studied fine arts and literature, she conveys her ideas verbally to her patternmakers. After graduation Kawakubo worked in a textile company and began working as a freelance stylist in 1967.

In 1973, she established her own company, Comme des Garcons Co., Ltd in Tokyo. Starting out with women"s clothes, Kawakubo added a men"s line in 1978. Two years later, she moved to Paris and presents her fashion lines there each season. At the same time she opened up her first boutique in Paris.

Following her breakthrough in Paris, Comme des Garcons clothing was often subject of exhibitions around the world.

Comme des Garcons specializes in anti fashion, austere, sometimes deconstructed garments, sometimes lacking a sleeve or other component. Her garments are primarily in black, dark gray, and white, often worn with combat boots.

Her designs have inspired many new designers like e.g.the Belgian Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, as well as Austrian designer Helmut Lang. The newest offspring of Kawakubo"s fashion think tank is former apprentice Junya Watanabe, who has recently attained much attention in the fashion business.

Kawakubo is a member of the Chambre Syndicale du Pret a Porter.

Selected Products
Comme des Garcons
Comme des Garcons Homme (since 1978)
Comme des Garcons Tricot (since 1981)
Comme des Garcons Robe de Chambre (since 1981)
Comme des Garcons Homme Deux (since 1987)
Comme des Garcons Noir (since 1987)
Comme des Garcons Shirt

Selected Awards
Mainichi Newspaper Award, Tokyo (1983, 1987)

Economic Data
Economic Information on the Kawakubo empire is scarce. The most reliable source is the 1990 published book by Deyan Sudjic on Kawakubo.

Ownership
Rei Kawakubo is the first officer and owner of Comme des Garcons Ltd. She is said to keep responsibility for all artistic and business issues in her company.

Performance
While in the early eighties Comme des Garcons achieved sales of $30 million in 150 Japanese shops alone. Although the recognition around the world was high when Kawakubo left the Japanese islands, sales of exports still contribute only 10% to total sales. Total sales by 1990 were at $100 million. Comme des Garcons clothing output is said to outnumber the combined effort of Japanese competitors Yamamoto and Miyake by far.

Distribution
By the late 80s Comme des Garcons operated more than 300 stores worldwide. A fourth of these stores were located outside of Japan. There, only a small part of the Kawakubo lines are available. Homme, Homme Deux, Tricot, and Robe de Chambre are lines which are predominately created for the Japanese market. Different range segments are shipped overseas, as well as different sizes. But also the prices vary around a third from these demanded in Japan. The unique design of Comme des Garcons stores puts Kawakubo"s clothes emphatically into scene by avoiding all distracting elements. She ensures a similar appearence in all outlets by working together with Japanese architect Takao Kawasaki for years.

Production/ Licenses
After successfully entering the markets outside of Japan, Kawakubo also started to manufacture abroad. Production is concentrated in France avoiding trade barriers for Japanes products and the volatility of the Yen in order to maintain competitiveness with European designers. Kawakubo resisted the temptation of licensing products other than fashion for a long time. Only the Italian furniture manufacturer Pallucco produces furniture in her name for some years now.

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By Courtney Lynne
I am an analyst by profession and researching is my passion. I also love to share my knowledge. Contact me on Google + and Twitter. Find us on Google+

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