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Y-3 X

We speak to Yohji Yamamoto about the decade-long Adidas collaboration and the new exclusive shoe line, Y-3 X

A progressive fusion of fashion and sportswear, this year will be the 10th anniversary of the collaboration between Adidas and the avant-garde designer Yohji Yamamoto – the original partnership, which was formed before transforming into Y-3 the following year. To mark the occasion the two brands have temporarily reverted back to their original state, designing a limited edition ‘Adidas for Yohji Yamamoto’ line featuring footwear and apparel. “This is how we started, with very small quantities” Yamamoto explains. “So we wanted to relate this collection to our past.”

Presented during Paris Menswear Week in January this year, the designers have summoned back classic pieces. The footwear range, which will be made available in only 300 of each style, consists of the Yohji Pacer, Smith and Star as well as the more technical high tops such as the Campus Wrestling, X Bounce and GSGX – all of which have been produced in the brands classic colours, red black and white. We spoke to Yamamoto about the initiatives past, and future.

Dazed Digital: You began by designing just footwear. What made you decide to expand into clothing?
Yohji Yamamoto
: In the beginning we just wanted to borrow some ‘3 stripe’ trainers from Adidas for my A/W 2001 show. I was sure that they would refuse and was pleasantly surprised when they said ‘yes’. Then we started discussing with their designers how the sportswear for the future would look, and decided that we would need high-tech fabrics, bright colours and fashionable silhouettes. In short, everything the full-price prêt-a-porter collections had. And that is how Y-3 came about. More things were added, accessories, hats, bicycles, footballs. The original has not changed, it needs to look good and feel good.

DD: Combining sportswear with high fashion showed incredible foresight on both parts. What was the initial reaction?
Yohji Yamamoto : In Japan you see the triple everywhere, on trains and on the streets, high school kids and college students all wear Adidas. It was more than surprising. It was more like, “How can I make my creative life without this?” That’s why I asked my assistant to call Adidas.

DD: Did you worry about how it would be received?
Yohji Yamamoto: I was rather curious…

DD: You have a background in fashion but what attracted you to work for a sportswear brand?
Yohji Yamamoto Adidas and I – we just like each other. Japanese and German people are intelligent sorts. Our working rhythm is the same.  

DD: Naturally, Y-3 is very rooted in the sportswear aesthetic. Can you see that changing at all?
Yohji Yamamoto: Ten years ago, together with Adidas we created something that did not exist before and completely projected the future. My desire was and is to make sportswear elegant and chic. Adidas is a very personal inspiration to me - it enriches my creative life.

DD: Y-3 has morphed into a brand big enough to warrant its own stores, could you ever imagine it becoming independent of the two companies?
Yohji Yamamoto: It naturally developed and grew the way children develop and grow. More things were added, accessories, hats, bicycles, foot balls and kids wear. Still, it will always depend on the partnership between the two brands. You have to treat Y-3 like it is an independent human. In that way the brand already has its own character. 

DD: Tell us about the limited edition collection celebrating the collaboration. Are there any pieces you consider to be stand-out?
Yohji Yamamoto: I like them all. Why do I have to choose?

DD: The collection claims to ‘recall progressive elements’ from the 2001 collection. How have you altered the design and performance to make them relevant for today?
Yohji Yamamoto: We updated the fabrics and technology within each model. A lot has changed in ten years in the respect of performance and functionality. This is what it has always been about, combining the elegance of fashion with the performance aspect of sports. 

The Y-3 X collection will be available at the Y-3 Flagship, 54 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2YY