Yasuyuki Ishii: Breaking barriers with fashion Asia Co., Ltd.

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Category: Japanese Apparel & Textiles

The art of fashion

Japanese fashion has never shied away from pushing the envelope and making connections between seemingly different mediums: from Issey Miyake's elegant, technology-inspired attire to the anime-driven extravagance of the trendy Harajuku style.

Embodying the spirit of Japan's innovation in fashion is Yasuyuki Ishii. Comprised primarily of leather, hard fabrics and a dark color palette, Ishii's designs bridge the gap between avant-garde and casual, art and practical wear, and have caused quite a splash overseas. At his store in the upscale streets of Tokyo's Daikanyama area, the designer boasts a repertoire blending the sleekness of metropolitan contemporary and the roughness of punk-driven urban grunge.

"I want to create distinctive clothes that energize people, or make them feel excited," says the designer. This principle is best manifested in a piece on display at his store: a futuristic, armor-like jacket made of wires, bolts and studs-an eye-catching number that can only be pictured adorning larger-than-life personalities such as Prince or Lady Gaga.

Designer Yasayuki Ishii

Ishii's armor suit

The man behind the clothes

The bold and the unorthodox was always par for course for Ishii, who got his start as an objet artist in the 1980s. Inspired by envelope-pushing designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Ishii's desire to find new media with which he could create and express provided him with the impetus to branch out into the fashion world and establish his brands-Yasuyuki Ishii For Men and Autre-Y for women-and a boutique shortly after.

Being one of a kind

The Ishii aesthetic also celebrates individuality by challenging convention. Utilizing leather parts that most couturiers would reject due to their tough textures, Ishii is meticulous in his craft, altering and modifying sewing machines, scissors and other tools for further personalization. His attention to detail is crucial in ensuring that he brings his art to life as precisely as he envisions it. The results are a unique style outside the norm, which has made Ishii a hit among his A-list clientele of celebrities, athletes and other public figures, and also landed his collections on the exhibitions of Tokyo, Paris, Milan and Copenhagen.

"I put a lot of thought into my clothes," muses Ishii, glancing over at a rack of captivating blazers and vests. "So when my customers buy them, they have also put a lot of thought into their purchase. This creates a great relationship between both sides."

International audiences in particular have embraced Ishii's work, which the designer attributes to their appreciation of the original and surreal. "People abroad love examining historical sites and buildings, and then have deep conversations about them. I wanted to see if I could obtain that same reaction with clothes."

Ishii's designs at his studio in Daikanyama, Tokyo
Photo courtesy of Yasuyuki Ishii