Rei Kawakubo: ‘I Am Not a Feminist’

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Comme looks from left: fall 2009, spring 2009, and fall 2008. Photo: Imaxtree

The 40th anniversary of Comme des Garçons is upon us. And with it, designer Rei Kawakubo is launching a temporary brand called Black. Ten Black stores will open around the world in the coming weeks. The first store is open in Tokyo, while another will open in Paris in two weeks. Kawakubo tells the New York Times the purpose of Black stores, which will carry "perennial Comme looks," is to infuse these hard times with "positive energy." No word yet on whether Kawakubo is planning to bring that positive Black energy to New York, but considering this city's ravenous appetite for her H&M line — and, well, black — it would seem fitting.

Kawakubo launched her label in 1969, and despite her fiercely independent point of view has built a multi-million-dollar empire (Comme turned $108 million in 2008). Though Comme des Garçons translates to "Like the Boys," the philosophy behind it has nothing to do with feminism.

“I really felt that I was on my own,” Ms. Kawakubo says. “I never felt my work had anything to do with being a woman. I am not a feminist. I was never interested in any movement as such. I just decided to make a company built around creation, and with creation as my sword, I could fight the battles I wanted to fight.”


On her design process:

“I start every collection with one word,” Ms. Kawakubo says. “I can never remember where this one word came from. I never start a collection with some historical, social, cultural or any other concrete reference or memory. After I find the word, I then do not develop it in any logical way. I deliberately avoid any order to the thought process after finding the word and instead think about the opposite of the word, or something different to it, or behind it.”


So that might explain this elusive Black concept. And why we don't yet know if New York is getting a store. See, this is why marketing teams like H&M's come in handy!

Positive Energy: Comme at 40 [NYT]