It’s been a decade since fashion legend Yohji Yamamoto began his collaboration with athletics innovator adidas. When October 2002’s inaugural collection launched, it heralded what would soon become an entirely original and often emulated category: designer athletic wear that merged luxury style with technical garments. “My desire was and is to make sportswear elegant and chic,” says Yamamoto. A daunting endeavor for any designer but one that Yamamoto enthusiastically embraced. “Ten years ago, together with adidas, we created something that did not exist before, and we completely projected the future.”
In recognition of this creative partnership, we’re highlighting some of Y-3’s most memorable moments over the past decade. Revisiting Y-3’s distinctive elements, like vivid prints, asymmetrical silhouettes and of course, the ever-evolving take on the adidas three-stripe motif, this look back at Y-3’s history is as much a celebration of the last decade as it is a prescient glimpse at the inspiration that awaits Y-3 devotees in the years to come.
Inspired by the aesthetic of sport and the purity of motion, Yohji Yamamoto and adidas formalize a partnership. Their connection is expressed in the name, where the “Y” stands for Yohji Yamamoto, and the 3 represents the three signature adidas stripes. From its inception, Y-3’s DNA is clear: vivid colors, electric patterns, and voluminous silhouettes. The first show is presented in Paris, and launches to critical acclaim. A bold print designed by the honorable Mr. Hayashi, printmaker to the Japanese family, makes its debut.
i-D co-founders Terry and Tricia Jones collaborate with British photographer Matt Jones to create the first-ever Y-3 campaign. The result? Powerful, kinetic imagery that channels youthful energy. In the years to come, other photographers to shoot campaigns for Y-3 would include Mario Sorrenti, Craig McDean, Alasdair McLellan, Collier Schorr, and Pierre Debusschere.
A collection influenced by Russia during its revolution, featuring workwear, army detailing, functional wools and references to constructivism. The presentation, produced by the Belgium guru Etienne Russo at Paris’s L’Opéra Comique, presents visuals reminiscent of Moscow's Red Square and the Kremlin, complete with a cobblestone street and a soundtrack performed by an all-male Russian choir. Graphics for the collection include matryoshka nesting dolls and Russian Revolution-inspired icons.
Over a thousand guests are in attendance at Y-3’s first New York presentation, housed in the former Merchant’s Exchange building, a National Historic Landmark. The building’s interior is decorated to give the impression that guests are in a giant bank vault (the bank note motif returns on the runway) while the collection is inspired by key dance movements of the 20th century.
The gymnasium at Hunter College debuts as a runway venue and acts as the perfect mise en scene for further explorations of Americana. Popcorn-munching fans seated on the gym’s bleachers are treated to a collection that marks a noticeable return to the true philosophy of Y-3: the fusion of sport and style. The increasingly sophisticated line presents roomy silhouettes and soft, comforting textures in a minimalist palette with bursts of color in orange, poppy and true blue.
With its rich plaids, nubby wools and swaddled layers, a collection designed for braving the elements launches with nothing less than a ‘glacial installation’ consisting of a 230-foot wall of pure ice. A mix of technical and basic garments and fabrics exhibits the contradiction of human innocence and technology. Timeless, sporty basics are rolled out in cool blue tones and warm red hues.
The renowned British fashion photographer lenses dramatic black and white images for Y-3’s campaign, creating a moody atmosphere that perfectly complements Y-3’s latest collection. The campaign features French footballer Zinedine Zidane, along with a group of models.
In an unprecedented look at the designer’s creative process, the 2011 documentary, Yohji Yamamoto: This Is My Dream, explores the collaboration between Mr. Yamamoto and adidas. The film gives viewers a glimpse into the process of producing a Y-3 collection from start to finish.
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Y-3 imagines how future generations may see fit to mix tradition and technology. The prevailing theme for the presentation is ‘future thrift’ and sees Yamamoto describing the act of “walking backward into the future”, suggesting a unique, non-linear approach to the passage of time.