Inside The Wardrobe Of A ‘Hardcore’ Japanese Avant-Garde Fashion Fan
In the fickle world of fashion, what keeps one repeatedly going back to a particular label through the years or even decades? For Yohjean (full name and occupation undisclosed), it all boils down to good old loyalty and a dogged love for Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe. Here, we get her to turn the cameras on herself and (a portion of) her carefully amassed treasure trove.
by Keng Yang Shuen /
July 7, 2020
This article is an unabridged version of an interview that first appeared in the July 2020 Perennial Edition of FEMALE.
Inside The Wardrobe Of A 'Hardcore' Japanese Avant-Garde Fashion Fan
What attracts you to these Japanese designers?
“I like unique silhouettes. The point of clothing to me is the shape of it and how your body looks in it. These designers have come to be so important to me and my body image.
I’m mostly into Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe. I also dabble into Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester if I find something suitable. These days I’m starting to buy a little Issey Miyake but it’s been a learning curve.”
How were you first introduced to these brands?
“When I was first getting in fashion circa 2008, I was casually looking at runway photos off Google when Yohji caught my eye. I believe it was his Fall/Winter 2006 show. I was in awe. I’ve never seen a silhouette like his before! From Yohji, it just naturally progressed to Comme and now we are here.
My first Yohji piece was from the first-ever Club21 Bazaar. Back in those days, they’d still have Yohji femme mainline on sale. It was an A-line full-length skirt that I still wear from time to time. It is made up of a lot of fabric – so when you’re sitting or squatting down you’ve gotta keep grabbing fabric to keep it off the floor.”
When did you start buying their pieces and how many do you have now?
“It was aound 2009 I beleieve. After that I started buying random pieces sparsely through the years. Honestly, I’ve never counted how many pieces I have now. Maybe a hundred? Maybe 200?
I purged out all my old clothes years back and started from zero. I only buy what I would wear for my daily life; I buy a lot of second-hand clothing.”
Where do you buy your pieces these days?
“I buy my clothes when I’m in Japan, or get them online. I shop from any second-hand sites – eBay and Rakuten have been really really good to me.”
What is the most extreme thing you’ve ever done in the name of collecting?
“The most extreme thing I did was waking up at 5am to bid for a Rick Owens 2012 ‘Mountain’ cropped sweater – which I lost to another bidder by US$5 (S$6.95).”
What are some of them most unique and treasured pieces in your wardrobe?
“Everything I own from Junya is special to me. But a few top mentions would be my pieces from his Fall/Winter 2008 show, and a dress and skirt I own from his Fall/Winter 1998 show.
I’ve only seriously started buying Junya runway pieces these past few years, because I’ve never really paid attention to him before, sadly. But when Junya is good, he is so so good.”
Do you have any tips for those who are new to collecting these designers?
“I have no insider tips, I just shop like a regular tourist when I’m in Japan. I do spend an inordinate amount of time online shopping though (think: every day). It requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Also a little bit of luck. I get super sad when I see a sold item that I really wanted – I’m really hardcore about this.
As for tips, I think buying or collecting with a specific idea in mind would be good. Decide what you really like and would wear, since I see no point in just buying an item but not wearing it. It’s better to streamline what or who you want to collect, then work around that. This way you wouldn’t be overwhelmed.
Also, it’s good to figure out sizing and design. A lot of shops you see on Rakuten have physical storefronts in Japan. It would be good to physically try a garment, for sizing and also to figure out if a cut would be suitable for you. For example, for a top-heavy girl like me, a ruched top from Comme would do nothing for me. I learned this from trying on the physical piece in the store.”