In late August, rumors began spinning through the voluble Supreme social media rumor mill that the streetwear powerhouse would soon release a collection with the legendary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. Now, after weeks of speculation, it is confirmed: Yohji Yamamoto is Supreme’s latest collaborator.
“A master craftsman with a rebellious spirit, Yohji’s transformative impact is felt far beyond the runway,” an announcement on Supreme’s website states, describing his “masterful draping and playful androgyny.” The collection, which will be available on Thursday, September 17th (and the 19th in Japan), is heavy on outerwear, with a leather jacket, work jacket, and parka, plus a sweater, two sweatshirts, and a beanie and assortment of T-shirts. Perhaps most exciting, the master of experimental suiting will combine forces with Supreme’s own cult tailoring offerings for a wool suit.
As reports continued to crop up online, some high fashion twitterati and armchair hypebeasts questioned why fashion’s greatest working avant-gardist is collaborating with the New York skate brand. The name Yohji Yamamoto stands for the ultimate anti-establishment attitude—anti-fashion, even. But a deeper look shows that Yamamoto, or Yohji-san as he is lovingly referred to in the industry, is something of a soulmate for Supreme.
Yohji-san may be the antithesis of hype—a designer who emphasizes extreme individuality known for garments that beckon contemplation—but he is a kind of godfather for the mischievous attitude at the heart of Supreme (though, of course, Jebbia and team perform theirs with a bit more faux bravado than Yohji-san). The punkish Yohji-san, after all, is no misty minimalist on the mountaintop; as the exhibition catalogue for a 2006 landmark series of exhibitions on his work notes, “Excess is first of all a way of life…. Excess is also a remedy for routine and boredom, a way of confounding others’ expectations of oneself, of provoking astonishment by contravening yet again the moral and bourgeois values that often make virtue, discipline and success into a single quality. For Yamamoto, disorder, indiscipline, and behavioural [sic] swings in the private sphere seem to illuminate and enrich his public being…and his fashion.”
Indeed, Yohji-san’s philosophy has long been in conversation with Supreme’s, by coincidence or otherwise. In 2007, he spiked his Fall collection with a handful of looks parodying designers’ burgeoning obsession with logos and the industry’s increasingly corporate atmosphere, with a YY motif mocking Louis Vuitton’s Japonisme logo print—about seven years after Supreme did the same with their Vuitton bootleg skate decks. The designer’s Y-3 collaboration with Adidas, launched in 2002, was an unprecedented partnership between an athletic brand and a luxury fashion designer, and wrote the blueprint for the last decade and a half of collaborations, especially the mythical mergers of streetwear brands with couturier-level designers that peaked with Kim Jones’s 2018 Vuitton collection with Supreme.