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Fashion : A SPECIAL REPORT: SPRING INTO FALL : Pacific Currents : Tokyo Men's Wear: A Younger Generation Rebels : Designers: Japanese business attire is Brooks Brothers conservative, but after five, anything goes.

May 02, 1990|CHRISTOPHER COOK

TOKYO — Fall, 1990, men's wear shown here this spring brought together the talents of the top names in Japanese fashion--Issey Miyake, Hanae Mori, Kansai Yamamoto, the Koshino sisters (Junko and Hiroko), Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons.

Close behind these stars were the up-and-comers: Kensho Abe, Norihisa Ota, Kyoko Higa and Yoshiyuki Konishi who, unlike the others, do not show their collections in Paris.

The shows, organized by the Council of Fashion Designers, included 45 collections of men's and women's wear. Two non-Asian designers, Barbara Bui and Helmut Lang, both based in Paris, also took part.

While the '80s will be remembered as the decade that brought Japanese avant-garde men's wear to world attention, the '90s aren't starting with any such promise.

Of all the men's wear designers here, Yoshiyuki Konishi is generally regarded as the most important contributor to the men's fashion image. For fall '90, however, he is showing the colorful collage-patterned sweaters that he introduced in the late '80s as the key to his collection. They've become something of a legend here.

Some of the most creative men's styles were fur outerwear, especially Tokio Kumagai's red and silver fox stoles. He showed other wraps with mink collars.

Suede and leather, always a leading look in Tokyo collections for fall, ranged from smart red leather jackets paired with pencil-thin, black leather pants by Junko Koshino--whose men's wear line is Mr. Junko--to tan suede Eskimo-style parkas with hoods by Akira Onozuka for Odds On.

Pants were inventive when they zipped at the side from ankle to mid-thigh, or laced up from the ankle to the knee. Quilted trousers in military green were shown at Tokio Kumagai Homme de Nuit, Kazutaka Katoh and Pashu. Other shapes ranged from jodhpurs at Odds On to stirrup pants at Koshino and shooting breeches at Kumagai Homme de Nuit.

Office wear, never the centerpiece of a Japanese fashion given the conservative attitude toward business dress, was consistently conservative. Most Japanese executives dress as if they stepped off the same production line, in blue polyester suits year-round. Fashion individuality is rarely encouraged on the job.

But members of the younger generation, with their considerable disposable income, abundant credit cards, and world travels to inspire them, are rebelling. Not so much in what they wear to the office as in their evening and formal attire.

Japanese men's wear designers see the after-five fashion field as especially fertile. For fall, they showed unusual jacket silhouettes, including a black gabardine style with buttons that angled from left to right by Koshino.

Koshino opted for softer-line jackets. One for evening had a multilevel hemline cut to resemble a piece from a jigsaw puzzle.

Despite the considerable number of quality men's wear collections by Tokyo-based designers, there are no plans to make the clothes available in the United States. One major factor affecting this decision is the strength of the yen against the dollar. Because of it, prices of Japanese designer labels are exorbitantly high in American stores.

At home, the Tokyo men's wear market remains strong. And the abundance of promising young designers suggests that will continue. But no one person has yet emerged as the obvious leader of the new decade.

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