One of the biggest achievements of Yohij Yamamoto as a designer and inventor of many sub-labels has most certainly been the commixture of the sexes in all of his designs. Also taking away the common European approach in fashion of showing men and women in skin-tight, sexy clothing and therefore objectifying them. Instead he was replacing this image with a unisex style of wearing lose clothes with flat boots instead of high heels. For him there is no classic cliché female or male clothing anyways. Therefore Yamamoto has always aimed to create timeless and genderless clothing lines, imagined and wearable for both men and women at the same time. In an interview with The New York Times in 1983 Yamamoto said of his designs: “I think that my men's clothes look as good on women as my women's clothing. When I started designing, I wanted to make men's clothes for women, maybe also to protect them from men’s eyes or the cold wind.” Yamamoto is known for an avant-garde spirit in his clothing, frequently creating designs far removed from current trends. His signature look is an oversized silhouette often featuring drapery in varying textures. His collections are predominately made in black, a colour which Yamamoto has described as “modest and arrogant at the same time.” Meanwhile the design of accessories such as bags, wallets and purses is also a huge part of his iconic brand.
Yohij Yamamoto was born in 1943 and it is safe to say that he is one of the pioneers among Japanese born fashion designers. In the industry he’s considered to be a master tailor mixing up the art and craft of tailoring with traditional Japanese design aesthetics but also integrating high tech fibres into his designs. But before turning into one of the most influential designers worldwide, he started to study law and even graduated with a law degree from Keio University in Tokyo in 1966. Given the fact that his mother owned a tailor shop it was only consequent that young Yohij followed in her footsteps eventually. In order to help her out in her shop that she ran as a widowed single mother, he started to study fashion design at Bunka Fashion College (as many other influential Japanese designers such as Kenzo Takada and Junya Watanabe to name only a few). He graduated from it in 1969, rewarded with two fashion awards and a scholarship to study in Paris. In 1972 he founded Y's joint stock corporation, his first collection in Tokyo was shown in 1977 and with the path towards a great international career already paved due to his scholarship, his Paris runway debut followed in 1981. Ever since Yamamoto has received notable awards for his contributions to fashion, including the Chevalier of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon and the Ordre national du Mérite. Yohji has expressed a deep love for designing clothing, going so far as to say he 'cannot imagine himself retired'.
Found in Tokyo in 1972, Yamamoto has shaped the fashion world immensely with his empire over many decades without ever jumping on any current trends or trying to use colourful, crowd-pleasing prints. His commercially successful main line, Yohji Yamamoto (women/men) and Y's, are especially popular in Tokyo. These two lines are also available at his flagship stores in Paris and Antwerp, and at high-end department stores worldwide. Other principal lines include Pour Homme and Costume d'Homme. Yamamoto's work has also become famous through his collaborations with other fashion brands, including Adidas (Y-3), Hermès and New Era Cap Company. Also musicians of different genres admire his style and have represented it over many years such as Tina Turner, Sir Elton John but also Daniel Barenboim (legendary co-founder and conductor of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra) and dancer icon Pina Bausch.