Comme des Garcons has grown to become one of Japan’s biggest fashion designers, grossing as much as $150 million every year and operating more than 200 vendors and a dozen full sized boutiques aroudn the world. Started and owned by designer Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garcons (French for “like boys”) is one of the premiere faces of Japanese fashion in the International Community.
Comme des Garcons was started in 1969 by Rei Kawakubo in Tokyo, Japan and later incorporated as a company in 1973. The Women’s line of clothing became largely popular in the 1970s, leading to the advent of the men’s line in 1978 and the debut of Comme des Garcons in Paris in 1981. The line’s use of black and distressed fabric during a period of color and bouyancy made a major stir in the industry and the line continued to produce clothing that was largely monochromatic and asymmetrical throughout the 1980s, despite the dominant trends of the decade.
Commes des Garcons was a popular line that often took on the notion of color and sex-appeal in clothing, as had Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto during the same time period. Eventualy, the line would introduce more colors and styles, but not on the same scale as its American and European counterparts.
Since its inception, Comme des Garcons has regularly been known for its willingess to go against popular trends, as it did in 1997 with its Lumps and Bumbs collection and in 2005 with the Persona collection, combining the ideas of masculinity and femininity into a single collection.
Commes des Garcons is equally well known for the designers who have established their own labels with the Commes des Garcons lable, including Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara, both of them gaining wide acclaim for their work. Both designers were patternmakers and then designers in the Knit Collection for Comme des Garcons before acquiring their own lines.
Additionally, collaboration has occurred between Commes des Garcons and a wide variety of international brands, including Nike, Speedo, Lacoste, Fred Perry, Chrome Hearts, Cutler and Gross, and Levi’s among many more. They continue to work in collaboration with the largest lines in the world to maintain a consistently fresh new look for their collections.
Commes des Garcons has more than a dozen boutiques, 200 vendors, and has recently started opening its Guerrilla Stores aroudn the wrold. These Guerrilla Stores are aimed at only being open for one year while spending as little money as possible on interiors and operations. The first such store openined in 2004 in Berlin and many more have opened (and closed) in Reykjavik, Helsinki, Singapore, Warsaw, and Athens. The two newest Guerrilla stores opened in 2007 in Beirut and in February, 2008 in Los Angeles.