WATANABE TO EXPAND WITH MEN’S COLLECTION

PARIS — Junya Watanabe, the acclaimed Japanese designer who has shown clothes that repel water, glow in the dark or are held together with clear plastic, is about to extend his high-tech sensibility into men’s wear.
WWD has learned that Watanabe, who is backed by Comme des Garcons, will unveil a spring-summer collection during the men’s shows here June 30 to July 3.
Adrian Joffe, managing director of Comme des Garcons, confirmed the launch Monday, but said details about the presentation and commercial strategy have yet to be completed. Joffe is slated to meet with Watanabe next week in Tokyo to discuss the business plan.
Since showing his first collection in 1993 in the Comme des Garcons store here, Watanabe has earned critical acclaim and a cult following for his theatrical presentations and highly innovative, but always feminine, designs.
For his spring 2000 collection, Watanabe sent models in bright florals, polkadots and plastic rain bonnets underneath a curtain of simulated rain on the runway.
He has also shown schoolgirl-proper clothes invaded by spiraling wires and handbags that could be converted into jackets and wraps. Driven to use the latest technology, he said in a rare interview: “Searching for something as revolutionary as polyester, that’s what keeps me going.”
Rei Kawakubo, the designer of Comme des Garcons, hired Watanabe right out of fashion school in 1984 to design the Comme des Garcons knitwear collection, which he continues to do.
Today, the Junya Watanabe women’s collection is sold in Comme des Garcons shops in Paris, London and New York as well as 65 specialty stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Linda Dresner in the U.S.; Sunflower and 10 Corso Como in Milan, and Selfridges and Liberty in London. In Japan, there are 15 freestanding Junya Watanabe stores.

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