Purple Magazine
— S/S 2014 issue 21

Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe

interview by OLIVIER ZAHM
portrait by JUNJI HATA
photography by FREDERIKE HELWIG


One of the world’s most creative and high-tech fashion designers lives in Tokyo and rarely speaks to the press.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You started your own company more than 20 years ago. Can you tell us about your personal evolution in relation to the transformation of fashion?
JUNYA WATANABE — Let me correct you. It is not my company. It is Rei Kawakubo’s company and I work in it. As for my personal evolution, I think it has not been isolated from the overall transformation of fashion. I feel that my technique has certainly developed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a positive change. With the surrounding situation, to be honest, I sometimes feel that it is very difficult to create something outstanding and interesting these days.

Blue and white hemp coat JUNYA WATANABE

OLIVIER ZAHM — How do design ideas come to you? Do you start from fabric or references from the past? References from art?
JUNYA WATANABE — My ideas come out squeezed and pressured, on deadlines. So I could say that the starting point of my creation would be a calendar and a schedule.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What about your design is Japanese? What elements of the style come from Japanese inspiration?
JUNYA WATANABE — I’ve never noticed or ever consciously thought of any specific country-driven influences on my design. This is not part of my process.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You like new high-tech fabrics. What is the most complex fabric you’ve ever experimented with?
JUNYA WATANABE — Strictly speaking, I do not think it should be described as “complex,” but I do recall developing a high-tech material for my S/S 1999 collection in conjunction with Toray. At the time, the material had not been used for clothing before.

Beige belted tunic with indigo jeans and studded python ankle boots JUNYA WATANABE

OLIVIER ZAHM — What do you like about using new, unexpected technical fabrics?
JUNYA WATANABE — For each and every collection, I try to work on things I have never worked on before. In that sense, new and unexpected fabrics do stimulate my creative drive.

OLIVIER ZAHM — We love when you design jeans. What do you like about denim?
JUNYA WATANABE — I don’t know. I just happen to like denim, I guess.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Would you say that you’re punk? Or have you gotten past the stage of being rebellious?
JUNYA WATANABE — I see myself as a hard-working adult and a member of society.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you feel more free designing for women or for men?
JUNYA WATANABE — I do take a different approach toward men’s and women’s collections. For the women’s collections, I try to look for what has yet to be seen. For the men’s collections, I play within the rules.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You have a reputation for being very demanding. When are you satisfied with a design? How do you know that a piece is done and perfect for you?
JUNYA WATANABE — I never get total satisfaction from any of my collections. Even after receiving responses and feedback on my collection, I feel I have barely moved forward.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What is it that you like about American clothing traditions?
JUNYA WATANABE — Indeed, I do like American clothing. I think it derives from the strong influence the US has and how that influence has been wielded over Japanese society and culture.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What do you like about living in Japan? What is changing these days in Japanese society and fashion?
JUNYA WATANABE — I just live in Japan because my company is based in Japan. That’s why my creation is based here.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you find it accurate when the press describes your work as “conceptual”?
JUNYA WATANABE — I’m not very interested in various design philosophies or ideas. What matters to me more is the content and reality of design. The everyday work.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you have a specific woman in mind when you design?
JUNYA WATANABE — I do not have a specific woman in mind when I work.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you consider fashion a form of art?
JUNYA WATANABE — I think that fashion is a way to express myself, and in that sense it is close to art. But the very reality of fashion is business. And I work on that basis.




Styled by Yasmine Eslami — Lily McMenamy @ NEXT and Kameron Zane @ NATHALIE, models — Damian Garozzo @ JEDROOT, make-up — Marki Shkreli @ ARTLIST, hair — Clemence Belin, stylist’s assistant — Lou Ferri, hair assistant.

[Table of contents]

S/S 2014 issue 21

Table of contents

purple NEWS





purple LOVE


purple BEAUTY

purple TRAVEL

purple NAKED

purple NIGHT

purple STORY


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