THE MASTER OF BLACK: Y-3
If you are into the world of fashion and streetwear, it’s impossible to NOT have heard of the name Y-3. In fact, it’s been nearly 20 years since their debut on the runway and their impact on the streets is undeniable. Being the pioneer in the blend of avant-garde fashion and sportswear, their pieces and footwear are made with the future in mind and the past as inspiration. Above all, their best pieces are generally the ones in black. As Yohji once said, “Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: I don't bother you – don't bother me.”
For the uninitiated, ‘Y’ stands for Yohji Yamamoto, the ‘3’ stands for adidas’s signature three stripes and the dash (-) stands for the bridge and bond between these two. Before his partnership with adidas, Yohji had already established an impressive portfolio as one of the leading avant-garde fashion designers and decades of experience in the fashion industry. Feeling bored with his work, Yohji wanted to expand into the world of sportswear and making it “elegant”. His work with adidas thus gave birth to the name “athleisure” even before the word was even created and long before designers like Jun Takahashi, Raf Simons, Chitose Abe etc. were having their own sportswear collaborations.
While adidas wasn’t his first choice as a partner, it would be adidas who
would prove to be very receptive to Yohji’s ideas. Those ideas have churned
out futuristic footwear such as the Y-3 Qasa Racer (made popular by Kanye
West when he wore them), Y-3 Qasa High, Y-3 Yohji Boost, Kyujo High and
many more. The emphasis on using intricate and luxe detailing using soft
leathers, sleek lacing and contemporary prints thanks to the legendary
designer’s approach to craftsmanship has made Y-3 stand out above their
peers. The Qasa would turn out to be its most well-known and coveted
sneaker that inspired countless knockoffs. The popularity of the Qasa also
became a catalyst in the growth of the designer sneaker market.
Y-3 sneakers may stand out for its aesthetic appeal but their clothing line elevates the footwear to another level. Depending on the season, Y-3 can be described as being fairly experimental and futuristic for the most part. Keeping mostly to Yohji’s design DNA and combining the heritage of adidas, the apparel’s purpose is clear through the aesthetics: sport meets high-end luxury in a sleek but futuristic set of garments. While some may say that the apparel is too simplistic, what they don’t realise is that his garments are ‘hiding’ its functionality, which is something Yohji is a master at.
Hence, it makes sense when Virgin Galactic and Y-3 announced their collaboration back in 2016. Now, bridging the gap between fashion and space, the collaboration was born from a desire to explore and innovate. The Y-3 design team has paired their avant-garde approach to style and adidas brand’s technical knowledge with the use of advanced fabrics along with their combined special techniques and bespoke specifications to ensure fit, comfort and performance. Together, they unveiled a prototype of the pilot flight-suit and a prototype flight boot proving once again Y-3’s vision of moving forward.
Now, in 2022, Y-3 is still going strong with season after season. The brand’s commitment to trying everything has kept it from falling victim to trends, leaving each season feeling both fresh yet with the right amount of familiarity to Yohji’s signature work. There have been questions about Yohji’s age (he’s currently 78 years old) and his continued work at Y-3 but he has shown no signs or intention of slowing down. The future for Y-3 is still bright with Yohji at the helm and it will be exciting to see what other surprises are in store from the legend himself.SHOP ADIDAS Y-3
Author: Aaron Lee