Rei Kawakubo just opened a store in China, the I.T. Beijing Market, in partnership with her Hong Kong–based retail partner, I.T Limited. The 20,000-square-foot store includes polka-dotted columns and a life-size elephant sculpture and offers multiple Comme des Garçons lines along with things by labels like Maison Martin Margiela, Rick Owens, Dior Homme, Ann Demeulemeester, and Hussein Chalayan. That's right — no young designers here. Kawakubo — who says her "motivation has always been to create something new, something that didn’t exist before" — said she is interested in only "very few" young designers and thinks that most of them aren't that good.
There are few people who, like us, have the values and the way of thinking to really try hard. They lack discipline. And it’s not just fashion, I think [young people] get satisfied too easily. They’re not strict enough with themselves. They’re too soft on themselves.
Kawakubo doesn't speak publicly like this often but said that when she opens a store, "we have to be able to get back the initial investment, whether it’s ours or whether it’s the partner’s, in as short a time as possible." So sometimes the torture of press is worth it, even when pesky reporters dare to ask aging designers about that thing they all can't possibly discuss — retirement — a question Kawakubo answered with complete silence. But she and Adrian Joffe, her husband and CdG's CEO, used the opportunity as a bit of a sales pitch, if unwittingly. When asked if they would sell the label, they replied:
I don’t think there’s anyone who would want to buy it. I do everything on my own, so there are very few people who could do it. Do you think there’s anyone who would buy it? [Joffe interjected half-jokingly with a laugh: “We’re waiting for an offer.”]
By the way, she's not doing another fast fashion line ever again.