Japan is on the cutting edge of everything as the country has a centuries-long knack for technological, culinary, and artistic innovation. It should be no surprise that some of fashion’s most inventive talents hail from the region. Interior design practices such as wabi-sabi, as well as the notion of kaizen—constant self-improvement—point to the nation’s inspiring ability to ritualize the mundane, elevating the most minute tasks or arranging an environment just to make one’s entire life better.
Brands like Comme des Garçons and Issey Miyake demonstrate Japan’s reverential approach to tailoring and construction, sharing elegant yet avant-garde garments with the world. Keep reading to discover six of the best Japanese brands.
Founded in 2011 by former Issey Miyake designers Keita Ikeuchi and Mihoko Mori, and wander is fiercely committed to presenting a refined yet rugged aesthetic, bridging the gap between thoughtful fashion and practical outdoor garments. Nestled in the heart of Shibuya, “the pleasure of playing in the mountains” serves as and wander’s North Star. Driven by the founders’ own hiking experience, the brand’s offerings are made to withstand a myriad of climates and are tested in both Japan and global locations, proving and wander’s devotion to quality.
The brand’s expert craftsmanship is demonstrated through its plethora of innovative silhouettes and keen attention to detail, delivering unparalleled technical fabrics. Using a precise pattern-cutting method, items such as the quilted diamond stitch-down hoodies and longline PRIMALOFT rip coats utilize sturdy, water and wind-resistant materials. The inimitable label is grounded in a mostly subdued color palette with a sporadic splash of color to mirror pigments found in nature.
Rooted in a sense of timeless elegance, AURALEE defies fleeting trends, welcoming refined, minimalistic garments. Founded by Ryota Iwai in 2015, the brand name is borrowed from an American folk song and means “The
Sometimes a chance encounter — and a husband being tuned into his wife’s tastes — are all that it takes to create a relationship that lasts a lifetime and influences generations to come.
That’s exactly what happened to John and Kimiko Powers several decades ago when they first met a young Issey Miyake, the legacy of which is now on display at Powers Art Center in Carbondale as part of a new exhibition entitled “Wrapped.”
“My grandfather was walking down a street in Tokyo and saw a woman wearing very interesting clothes, so he boldly asked her who the designer was. It was Issey Miyake,” said Bobbi Hapgood, the couple’s granddaughter, CEO, and president of Powers Art Center. “The next day Kimiko and John visited Miyake’s studio and met him. The rest is history. Since then, Issey’s work has been the dominant style for Kimiko. There is an audio of Andy Warhol and Kimiko talking about her ‘Japanese’ clothes and Kimiko replied, ‘I only wear Miyake’s clothes.’”
Celebrating that relationship, “Wrapped” is an artistic study of fabric that features pieces pulled directly from Kimiko Powers’ collection that spans from the 1970s to 2020. Each piece was selected by Sonya Taylor Moore, director of Powers Art Center and curator of the Miyake portion of the exhibition.
“The passing of Issey Miyake prompted us to think we need to do something to honor him, said Taylor Moore. “Mrs Kimiko Powers only wears Miyake and she has since the 70s and 80s. So everything we’re showing is a part of her collection of