“There are two ways to use wool,” says Japanese fashion designer Junichi Abe. “One is to use it in the most usual and accepted ways, and two is to aim to show new forms of wool.” Given the creative mastermind behind the innovative label Kolor is known in the industry as a magician of materials, Abe most certainly falls into the latter category with garments that modernise traditional menswear garments by subverting them in the designer process. This might be in his way of bonding materials, or of slicing fabric to offer moments of transparency, or in his use of print and colour, such as in his spring 2017 menswear collection, comprising neon pink highlights, geometric patterns and decorative embellishments.
Having trained at Bunka Fashion College, in Tokyo, Abe launched his label, Kolor, in 2004, quickly finding an audience not just in Japan but throughout the world, such is the diverse appeal of his offering. And despite the creative dexterity demonstrated in his seasonal collections, Abe aims for Kolor to be rooted in longevity. “I want to convey a feeling, the emotion and the mood of the times,” he says. “But I also want my products to be appreciated for a long time.”
Portrait: Kolor’s Junichi Abe photographed by Victor Virgile.
The Woolmark Company visits the atelier and prolific Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto
At the autumn/winter 2016 collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo, Japan’s best designers showcased innovative wool looks