made in japan

Your Comme des Garçons Starter-Pack

Comme des — who now? Allow us to explain: tonight, the first Monday in May, is the Met Ball, and Comme des Garçons, the Japanese avant-garde fashion line designed by elusive genius Rei Kawakubo, is the theme/subject of the museum’s corresponding exhibit. If you’re looking to “dip your toe” into the world of CDG, and all you know about the brand is its mischievous red-heart logo, or this dress that Lady Gaga wore that one time, below are some starter Comme des Garçons — or “Comme,” as those in the know call it — broken down and explained by an enthusiast.

The Play Collection

In Comme des Garçons president Adrian Joffe’s words, the Play line, launched in 2002, “was a collection, created by not designing; it was the antithesis of design, based on prototypical forms. … [T]he idea itself was new for Comme des Garçons to do a collection that wasn’t designed, that it was only a t-shirt with one mark.” The Play line is CDG’s most basic (and also most reasonably priced) offering. Below are some of the core Play items, which have been iterated throughout the years.

The Play X Converse Chuck Taylors
An easy way into CDG are these “hidden heart” sneakers, which come in black, white, high-top, and low-top. (An earlier sneaker design, with a smaller heart, was recently discontinued.) For the more advanced hypebeast, there are the polka-dotted PLAY Converse, released in Japan a couple of years ago and only recently launched in the United States.

The Play Hoodies
Note that the gray sweatshirts are 100 percent cotton, and all other colors are in Kawakubo’s beloved polyester.

The Play Cardigans
These come in a number of color combinations and styles, but the most classic are the V-necks with a red heart.

The Wallets

CDG wallets are another of the company’s best starter points. There are six main wallet styles, which come in a variety of colors and patterns, depending on the collection. Below are some of the most popular collections.

Super Fluo
A mix of vibrant blues, greens, and oranges.

Crazy Stripe
A more recent addition to the line. This particular shape is very versatile, and can work as a clutch or makeup bag.

According to our source, this is the absolute perfect men’s wallet.

The Scents

In the words of Kawakubo herself, “A fragrance should always be worn for your own pleasure, not necessarily to seduce.” Since the introduction of the company’s first “anti-perfume” in 1994, the line has grown both more accessible and more diverse. Of the over-75 fragrances released by CDG, these are some standouts.

Black — Kawakubo’s favorite color, as well as a “spiced up new scent” — is a good starter perfume that retains some of the CDG weirdness and also smells great. Notes of leather, licorice, black pepper, and incense.

One of the newer and more popular perfumes that’s described as “an electric collision of molecules: the crash of spicy pepper seeds suspended within infinite darkness.”

Odeur 53
If you want to try one of the more “directional” offerings … Its description says it all (sort of): “An abstract anti perfume. The latest technology is used to clone odours from inorganic materials. Smells never before used, with no precise name only abstract ideas. The Freshness of Oxygen, Flaming Rock, Freshly Mowed Grass, Wash Drying in the Wind, Sand Dunes, Pure Air of the High Mountains, Flash of Metal, Nail Polish.”

2 Candle
A bit of CDG for your home: in the pleasant smell of spicy incense.

Homme Plus Classic

Homme Plus — Kawakubo’s main men’s collection — features a little-known evergreen line of suiting and shirting. These basic button-downs are beloved among the brand’s devotees, for being extremely well-made and versatile.

Shirt Underwear

CDG Shirt is one of the company’s more youthful lines. It also happens to offer some extremely comfortable men’s underwear.

The underwear line is made in collaboration with Sunspel — the British producer of luxury basics.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

Your Comme des Garçons Starter-Pack