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Yohji, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Looser Fit (Yohji Yamamoto Thread)

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by Ivwri, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Ivwri

    Ivwri Senior member

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    Like you said, the original poster seemed to want Yohji to change his image - who he is and what his brand represents - in order to capture the current zeitgeist of fashion consumers. This to me shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the brand and person he went to work for. Rei Kawakubo has always approached clothing from a more intellectual and maybe even dispassionate standpoint, this allows her way more flexibility when it comes to creating things and branching out into multiple fields (even if not all of her decisions are motivated by market forces, one cannot deny the inherent massmarket appeal of something like Star Wars collabs). Yohji is obviously creating with his gut/heart and that is one thing that does not do well with adapting to trends. Yohji's romanticism is probably what attracts the majority of his fans anyway. Maybe I am being cynical, but I don't know if that sort of vibe is cool any more. I think the more modern "hipster" like nonchalance and obsession with the obscure and trends is what would sell better. Does something like "Comme Des Fuckdown" have any serious lasting power (speaking of which, is that an official CdG thing or some random urban brand capitalising on the name)?

    The modern fashion consumer seems to be more concerned with signature pieces and easy to identify markers (whether that is a logo or a print or something) that they can use to showcase their fashion knowledge or savvy. The less ostentatious/glamorous tells that show that an item is made by YY are not very suitable for this purpose at all I feel. Think about the responses most people give when looking at people in Yohji's clothing (hammer pants, too baggy, shapeless, homeless etc.), these are not things with a mass market appeal where people want to look more and more glamorous and not like 19th century peasants or soldiers.

    It is definitely regrettable that one of the primary barriers to entry to Yohji's brand is one of price and availability (and if I remember correctly Yohji has spoken on this a little in an interview or two), but this is unavoidable in this business and his particular niche. He uses Japanese manufacturers and craftspeople who are generally more expensive than normal, special fabric treatments and construction all of which demand more money than the average H&M or Zara product and these things are inherent to his brand and aesthetic I believe. Clothing made from the classic 100 wool gabardine wouldn't be the same if made from cheaper fabric, at least, not in the 10 year timeframe that Yohji says he generally designs clothing to last for. It's a shame that COMING SOON didn't work out as that seemed to have some very solid pieces that successfully captured some of that Yohji vibe, maybe they might try again? Right now at least they have s'yte which just makes t-shirts for now, and that seems to be doing pretty okay if the rate at which they sell out of items is any indication and the various collabos. Would be interesting to ask the original poster what they feel about the YY brand now and its current moves to make themselves financially more sustainable.

    On a side note, I would probably pick up a Yohji Yamamoto x Yoda series of t-shirts and jackets with random sayings from both of them :happy:
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012


  2. davidlee388

    davidlee388 Senior member

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    That fashion spot article was posted in 2005 right? Can someone correct me if I'm wrong. So obviously the poster of that article did have a point, or a crystal ball, that Yohji will go bust eventually. And he did! In late 2009 only to be rescued from bankruptcy......just. So my view is this article is old news already and we should assess if Yohji has learnt from his mistakes ( as a businessman, not as a designer/dress maker ).

    May be he has now because the Y's men's line was dropped after AW09 probably as a business decision, even I myself mourn its demise because I have many many lovely Y's pieces which were on a par construction wise to PH as others will concur. There have been IMO pieces I've seen, handled and tried on since SS10 that I'm adamant were Y's pieces incorporated under the big YYPH umbrella. The cut of some of those pieces were noticeably slimmer ( like Y's ) and also use of certain buttons seem to go with certain classic oversized pieces ( PH ). I remember when I was in LN-CC showroom admiring their SS11 buys last year. I noticed 2 pairs of brushed cotton superoversized drawstring pants, one black, one navy. Pretty sure identical material apart from colour. There was a very slight difference in the stitching of the back pockets between the 2 pairs or you'll be hard pushed to split them cos the cut and overall style was the same. However the black pair with what I call classic PH buttons was over £100 dearer retail than the navy ones with a flatter looking buttons. How do you explain that? The LN-CC manger couldn't.... So I suspect he has merged the 2 men's lines silently together and streamlining his business. That's one way of moving your business forward?

    He has shifted some of his manufacture to China to cut cost it seems. It's a fact that from AW10 quite a lot ( if not all, maybe Ivwri can confirm with his derbies ) of his footwear were made in China; the AW11 monkey boots I have are an example. Strangely some AW11 knits were made in Japan, some were MIC, but they were very similar in prices. So he saves, I assume, quite a bit of labour cost in manufacturing, but doesn't seem to pass on a little of those savings to the customers. Well, that's progress in the business sense then.

    Also Yohji has gone slightly more commercial and market driven now. My prime examples were whilst I was in Conduit Street YY flagship last week checking out SS12, there were two simple, but very nicely cut short cardigans on the rack. On closer inspection, shock horror, there was a small but noticeable white stitched YY signature on the corner of the left front panel. I asked the SA the point of this; she shrugged her shoulders and sighed probably to do with brand image. So the company must have done research to feel the need to insert that to attract image conscious customers ( I thought all of us here like Yohji for his designs and silhouette, not a logo, leave that to mainline Y-3 ). Also last winter YY launched the YY x Adidas " X " range to mark 10 years collaborations with Adidas. The trainers were nice enough and were used on AW11 Runway ( I have 2 pairs ). However there was also a simple reversible cotton zip blouson with big " X YY Addias " on one side and smaller print of the same on the other. I have many Y-3 pcs and I cannot tell how this track blouson could cost £500 when a similar quality Y-3 one was £250. Even the SA whom I know well persuaded me NOT to buy it.....

    All in all I am tinged with sadness but at the same time feel a bit hypocritical that whilst I'm very passionate about this fashion designer that is Yohji Yamamoto ( I practically grew up with him ) I can only support him financially in the used market and in the sale in his official retailers. It's a catch 22, we like his clothes, we don't particularly want him to downmarket his brand, compromiising quality and image, but we think his clothes are insanely dear retail, so what is the answer?
     


  3. asobu

    asobu Senior member

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    David, I seem to remember runner mentioning sometime back in 07 or 08 that the company was in pretty bad shape financially and had gone through some restructuring, closing down/moving shops on the domestic market etc. I'll see if I can find that. My guess (uneductaed) is YY Inc wasn't doing partiucarly good figures back in 05 either. When did they close the NY shop? I don't know much about the fashion industry but I'm guessing it's not easy for a brand like YY, making 4 shows a year (6 incl Y-3), being a "big" fashion house with store locales in central Tokyo/London/Paris (many shops/outlets in Tokyo), doing expensive productions/small runs and not selling a ton of it - and also not having the bags/accessories/perfumes to keep the business side going strong. Something's gotta give somewhere, so the retail price will stay high. Re: the Made in China, it's still such a small amount (like ~5%?) of a collection that is MIC that I can't see how he's saving that much on it, the rest is still all Made in Japan which I'm guessing are some of the higher labour costs worldwide, not to mention the time-demandning construction, shibori/yuzen dyeing etc...


    I've always wondered how well the mainlines have been doing historically. Sales, I mean. Which of mens or womens has been selling best, what financial part Y's has played, as well as the other Y's lines (Noir/red label/YFM). I'm pretty sure that runner mentioned before that the women's mainline has traditionally been no limits in terms of productions costs, i.e. he was free to create without budget restrictions basically. Can anyone confirm this? I know very little of the actual business side over the years.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012


  4. asobu

    asobu Senior member

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    Possibly that is some sort of decision from business level that the inclusion of the embroidered YY is to attract image concious customers, but I sincerely don't think it will carry much weight out there in terms of affecting sales. Not to mention that he has used his name quite extensively in various ways on his clothes before - SS02 (embroidered logo on several of the signature actress pieces) and SS07 ('humorous' prints like "100% Yohji Yamamoto" etc etc) to name a few (well, the ones I can think of right now, lol). I agree it looks unsightly though. Oh, and remember that for SS00 he used that little tag on the side of pretty much all of this jackets/pants.

    Y-3 is interesting though - because it's obviously a concious business move to enter into a completely separate market from his other output. But as we know he started incorporating Adidas collab designs into his mainline shows several years before the establishment of the Y3 brand. I wonder if he did this because he was actually fascinated by Adidas/interested in parts by sportwear, and that the Y-3 collab grew out from that - or if those mainline collaborations (AW01 for women was the first collection to incorporate this, and it wasn't just the shoes but also reflected in the clothes) were done in anticipation of the coming Y-3 brand...
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012


  5. sshum

    sshum Active Member

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    David, the TFS post date was from 2005. One thing I do appreciate about that post is that he was willing to speak up and say what was on his mind. It's a cultural thing not to speak up and to have that type of discussion with a senior company representative would not be readily accepted. At least we get a glimpse into the internal workings of the company as there is very little known. The poster also didn't seem to be aware of the different diffusion lines where were being tested. Ultimately I'm not so sure if having diffusion lines is a good thing or bad thing. Today you see so many new lines pop up and after a few years, they come up with a diffusion line. I appreciate they may not want to dilute their original brand and be able to offer goods at a more affordable price point, but maybe they need to consider whether or not that is what the market/consumers want. To me, it seems it's more about how to find other sources of revenue but these diffusion lines may distract from the original vision plus it draws resources in the form of capital and people to make these lines happen.

    At the end of the day, everyone has to be able to make $$$ to keep the business running. I'm glad that Yohji has continued to support the manufacturing sector in his home country and that he doesn't seem to look purely at the numbers when he chooses what materials to use. To me, it's more of how it will create the desired effect when the garment is worn. Yes, this drives up the manufacturing costs up as compared to moving it overseas to places like China, but to me there is a certain appeal that his mainline is still made in Japan. Now I don't know enough about whether or not this is true. For example, I read an article earlier this year where it examined what did it mean to be 'Made in Italy'. It was quite interesting that a garment with this tag may have been assembled in Italy and had finishing done to qualify for the minimum standard and earn the tag. In a related article, it discussed how Chinese factories were opening up in a certain part of Italy and bring in chinese nationals to work in the factories - in the same horrible factory conditions back home in China. 10 or more people sharing a living space, working 12 hour shifts etc.

    There are many countries in the world where the manufacturing sector has disappeared or is close to disappearing with every industry looking to drive down costs and maintain/increase margins in this new economy. There was a post on another forum where this fashion designer talked about how the local manufacturers in Italy cannot compete and therefore they have to shut down. This has huge impact on the economy and one of the reasons why unemployment is so high everywhere. When you shut down the manufacturing, this has an impact on its suppliers and so on down the supply chain. In Canada, everyone is talking about the demise of the once vibrant manufacturing sector but those days are long gone so if you want to be a designer of any type and you want to get your goods made in any quantity, you pretty much have to go overseas. So I do applaud Yohji (and his new financial backers) for keeping the majority of his manufacturing at home. And yes, that means many of us cannot afford to buy at full retail or even at 50% off. Good thing there is an active used market.

    Now what could be considered is a change in the overall distribution model to drop the retail price. Retail is approximately 2.5x - 3.5x the wholesale cost (could be higher for luxury goods), which allows retailers to make enough $$$ to cover all their fixed and variable costs. You see a bit of this with the likes of Mr.Porter, MyHabit, ParkandBond where there is no brick and mortar and why I suspect they may still make money when goods are discounted to 70% off. They likely buy from the manufacturers with better discounts due to the large volumes they buy and they have finely tuned (and efficient) distribution models. Right now, you don't see any change in the retail price when sold online - in fact, some sites may have their retail slightly higher than others. I see this is part of some ongoing testing to see what will work. At the end of the day, if we had a choice, we would like to physically handle, and try on the item before purchase. With the new online sites, they attempt to offer the consumer with this by offering generous return policies and they make it simple to do returns.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012


  6. asobu

    asobu Senior member

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    Anyway, I just caught up with the last few days of posts here, glad to see not only this discussion but several great fits posted as well. It's good that you guys are keeping this thread on the first page!! Ivwri, really loved that fit with the mandarin collar jacket and the cropped pants, great shape overall, sharp and relaxed at the same time. Also like dante and david bringing some vintage goodness and bulky shapes in these last few pages, always good to see. I'm guessing that jacket is indeed from the 80's, David!

    Big thanks for those scans and pics too. Love that SS06 stuff Parker, if you have any more catalouge shots like these from other collections please post up more! Haven't seen those before.
     


  7. dantebykiko

    dantebykiko Senior member

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    i will pass discussing factories, production and business plans. something from today: same y's trousers, vintage converses, yyph shirt, and yyph blazer.


    [​IMG][​IMG]
     


  8. Ivwri

    Ivwri Senior member

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    Really like that YYPH shirt dante. What season is it from?
     


  9. dantebykiko

    dantebykiko Senior member

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  10. asobu

    asobu Senior member

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    great shape of the whole thing dante, is that the aw01 wool/cashmere jacket you purchased recently? love it.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    yyph gabardine double layer coat and gabardine pants, y's shirt, solovair 11 holes
     


  11. syed

    syed Well-Known Member

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    Damn, dante and asobu looking cool :slayer:

    I tried posting this on Saturday, but it seems to be stuck in moderating purgatory, so I thought I'd post again.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Shirt has layered collar that buttons on one side, from SS11. The trousers are from the final Coming Soon collection. The blazer is actually Comme from SS98 (going back to the older discussion, I definitely think older CdG works better with Yohji - the tailoring was looser and the fabrics did not feel quite as 'pristine'...the newer stuff always feels like it needs to be worn in, unlike Yohji).
     


  12. Ivwri

    Ivwri Senior member

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    Great stuff guys! Looks like you have been let out of purgatory syed so hopefully we can now get more pics from you without the typical moderation delay.

    That double layer detail is great asobu. It's what I really liked on the long 010 cotton jacket he did this season as well. Always cool to see things like this being repeated and experimented with from older seasons.

    Will put up a fit once I get to my laptop, I think I am finally satisfied with the stand collar jacket and the way the placket hangs heh. Very versatile addition to the wardrobe for sure and is kind of cementing the direction I want to pursue primarily as a Yohji uniform for myself.
     


  13. Ivwri

    Ivwri Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Shirt is SS12 long shirt HB - B04 - 021 from look 10 I believe. I really like the way the 021 cotton rumples and the stiching on the placket and cuffs helps to emphasise degrees of rumpling on the different parts of the shirt. Wearing SS00 high-waisted pants and Margiela GATs from last season.
     


  14. dantebykiko

    dantebykiko Senior member

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    such a strong page! great variations of how to wear white yohji shirts. to answer asobu question. yes it's from a/w 01, in size 2.


    [​IMG]
     


  15. davidlee388

    davidlee388 Senior member

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    Syed, Ivwri, Dante, Asobu, all great fit pics!

    Asobu so this is the grail coat! It fits perfectly, the length and the sleeves hit just spot on :) It goes really well with the rest of the look.

    Syed, your SS11 shirt is the same one I posted with my AW05 blazer I think. Wire also had it but sold.

    Dante, that AW09 shirt is amazing, and very rare, don't think I have ever seen it in auctions.
     


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