Paris (Digital) Fashion Week: Kolor’s Junichi Abe

Mark A. Carlson
Photo credit: Kolor
Photo credit: Kolor

From Esquire

The coronavirus has come for Fashion Week, but Fashion Week is unbowed. With the 2020 edition of show season going all-digital, the key designers talk us through how they’ve adapted to showing clothes in a world where showing clothes is (almost) impossible.

What’s been the biggest challenge with producing a lockdown fashion ‘show’?

For this unusual season, we are using a special camera system to present a video. Even though I was not the one actually making it, this kind of production was the biggest challenge for us during lockdown.

What’s been the biggest opportunity?

We needed to show our collection in an unusual way and a video for Paris Fashion Week was exactly that. Being able to create new projects – and create something we’ve never done before – became our biggest opportunity.

What non-fashion skills have you picked up during lockdown?

Since the S/ S ’21 collection was just around the corner, I was thinking about my work constantly so I didn’t find time to acquire any non-fashion skills during lockdown.

Photo credit: Kolor
Photo credit: Kolor

How have you seen the Japanese and French fashion communities come together in the past few months?

In Japan, we couldn’t open our stores so many fashion companies were forced to request subsidies to maintain their businesses. Some of the fashion brands got together with the factories to produce face masks using spare fabrics and these profits were donated to the hospitals in Japan. Happily, Kolor was a part of this project.

Is this a watershed moment for the fashion industry?

I don’t really know whether this will be a watershed moment. Under such difficult circumstances, we definitely think, wonder and create many things we’ve never thought of before.

Our work is to communicate with people through our clothes but during the crisis, people couldn’t come to our stores to touch or wear our product.

Therefore, I am struggling with the way we can deliver our mission without customers being able to physically shop in our stores. For example, we started our official online store in February, and due to the crisis, we are left wondering: is there any way we can show more details with imagery or deliver the sense of touch with e-commerce? Is it possible to assist our customers on a one-to-one basis using technology? Such questions arose because of the current situation.

Who’s your favourite Japanese designer at the moment? And your favourite French designer at the moment?

It is so difficult to pick one person since there are many designers I respect and am influenced by – from both countries. Let’s say, in the field of architecture, I am impressed by the works of designers like Kunio Maekawa and Charlotte Perriand. But of course, there are more.

What advice would you give to fashion graduates who want to set up a fashion business?

Don’t give up. Keep going. Your efforts will not betray you.

Street style is impossible this year. That a good or a bad thing?

I’ve thought a lot about this but I simply don’t have any opinion on street style. That probably answers the question!

What kind of role do you think a fashion show will play in five years?

I think a fashion show is the easiest way for people to both understand and feel the clothes that a designer has created.

Of course, presenting by video is useful in many ways as it delivers the image to many more people. Since the Sixties, the fashion show format hasn’t changed, so now I think there will be more opportunities for designers to choose other ways to present their collections. Maybe that is the watershed moment.

What has been your favourite show of all time?

Yohji Yamamoto Famme 1986 A/W, and Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus 1994 A/W.

If your S/S’21 collection had a mantra, what would it be?

Kolor never works on collection themes so I would not be able to create a mantra. I’m a designer precisely because I feel there are some feelings that cannot be described in words.

Can you pick one piece or look from S/S ’21 that defines the collection?

I think it would be look one. Through this collection, we’ve used the idea of putting kids sized garments squeezed over oversized adult garments in many pieces, but I think the coat in look 1 is the best.

Photo credit: Kolor
Photo credit: Kolor

In a money-and-physics-no-object world, talk us through your dream fashion show.

It would involve everyone from one town wearing our clothes and just spending the day as they normally would wearing Kolor. Then, we would invite journalists and buyers to the town to see their life. This would be my dream fashion show.

Who makes it onto the perfect front row?

For me, those who make the perfect front row would make the worst front row. They are people I respect and deeply care about, so, I’d be simultaneously happy to show them my collection but also scared to find out if they were disappointed.

Who are your fashion heroes?

I’m influenced by so many people… at this point in time, I cannot choose as the list is too eclectic and I don’t want to miss anyone out!

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