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KEI KAGAMI

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Biography

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Kei Kagami

Kei Kagami originally studied architecture at Meiji University and also studied tailoring at Bunka Fashion College in his native Tokyo. After completing both courses in 1989, Kei began working at the studio of Japan’s iconic architect Kenzo Tange. Despite the privileged position this job gave, he wasn’t fulfilled and decided to leave for London with his determination to do fashion. In the summer of 1989, he ended up on the doorstep of John Galliano. John realized his potential, set him to work, and became his mentor. After having worked for three seasons at Galliano, the studio had to be closed and Kei decided to enroll at Central Saint Martins, where he completed an MA in Fashion Design in 1992. He was rewarded with the final position in the graduation catwalk show. In a vintage year, fellow classmate Alexander McQueen had to settle for the next best spot. The rest is history. As for Kei’s conceptual pieces, they have been displayed in museums and galleries across the world including;
• Jan Jansen Shoe Treasures (Amsterdam) '17
• Shoetopia (Detroit) '17
• National Museum of Scotland (work purchased for the permanent collection) '16
• Kunst Haus Wien museum "SHOEting Stars" (Austria) '14
• Kunsthal Rotterdam museum "S.H.O.E.S" (Holland) '14

Further information:
https://ashadedviewonfashion.com/2008/08/06/kei-kagami-nvu/


  

Collaboration with YKK

 

With his education now completed, Kei began work as a freelancer, building up a select following.  In 1997, Kei Kagami launched his own label during London Designers Exhibition. In 1998, YKK commissioned him to make a collection of zip-inspired pieces. The results of this collaboration were outstanding; no one had seen anything quite like it before. Kei’s designs were copied and produced for the mainstream market. In 2001, YKK began sponsoring Kei Kagami’s catwalk shows for London Fashion Week. His acclaimed showpieces and experimental shoe designs were starting to attract serious attention on the continent. In 2004, YKK decided to sponsor Kei’s scheduled catwalk shows for Milan Fashion Week.

A decade on, the collaboration is still going strong, and in 2008 Kei became a consultant for YKK Europe. Both parties now work to offer support and advice to the next generation of young fashion designers. Through YKK, Kei has become actively involved in graduate competitions (ITS fashion competition in Italy until 2016, Graduate Fashion Week in UK from 2017) and educational initiatives with some of the most prestigious colleges in the world (Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins, AP Hogeschool Antwerpen, and so on). At the same time, Kei continues to present his own label in Paris twice a year, and he also keeps creating conceptual pieces for the opportunities. Kei's activity seems to be expanding, and in 2015 he designed the first YKK showroom in London. Since then, he has presented young creators' works in the showroom windows as the curator. In 2017, he started working on a collaboration project "Vnapersona" with Maurizio Altieri.

Feelings Toward Fashion and Brand Philosophy

 

“Trend" can be a demanding thing. It sometimes takes away the identity of a person. It tells us what we should wear, and it can make people to wear the same thing. It is very inconsistent in the fashion way. That is not cool, and it is not fashion to me. I believe fashion should be more from within the individual to create their own identity.

“Fashion is composed of many elements. For me, it's not just clothing. I would like to think of fashion in a more intrinsic way. I would like to think of it as a reflection of the era, such as music, art, cultural values, etc. All of these things are self-expression, individuality, and a medium for expressing ourselves.

     "You can be fashionable without following trends"

“I present my collection twice a year, and the concept itself is always changing. (Each collection has its own story, concept, theme, etc.)  However, there is a consistency to my work.

“I decide what I would like to express first. Once I have a concrete idea, I think of which technique and material would best express the concept. Then I work with draping or making experimental pieces. I keep repeating these actions until the story and design becomes solid as a collection. The rest is a matter of space and structure. I never work with sketches or drawings, just ideas and techniques.

“First, I analyze myself, what I feel beauty in at that moment. I try to express or present myself as sincerely as possible. For example, what am I angry about, which music, film, book, or even motorbike (my daily life) impressed me, etc. I believe they are the key to opening my new collection. I don’t follow the trends. I do not care what people are wearing. I do not research in any way. The only input I get is from the news. I usually watch the news twice a day. This is really my only input on what is going on in the world. Sometimes this enables me to predict the future. These things inspire me more than any current fashions.” 

Favorite YKK Product

“It is difficult to answer, as I have many favorite zippers. Allow me to select two items from my favorite list.”

 Open CONCEAL® zipper :
“It is no longer a new item; however, I still remember the moment when I saw it for the first time. I was amazed by the fact that a CONCEAL® zipper works as an open end. When I was a student at Central Saint Martins, we were talking about it as a dream zipper.  Well, the dream became a true. There is a trick which enables you to stitch until the end of the zipper on slider side. I was fascinated by that trick, indeed. You have to actually see it to understand.”

 

CONCEAL® is an invisible zipper where you can not see the element. It does not disturb the garments design so it is best suited for dresses and skirts.

Excella® Blade:
“What a masterpiece this zipper is! It is fundamentally something new. I could say that the structure of the zipper decides the shape and dominates the fashion design.  However, it is other way around with this zipper. The elements were designed first, and then the structure had to follow the design. Therefore, function and beauty coexist in the product. Very luxurious…”
 

 

Excella® Blade adapts itself to fashion styles that speak of luxury and classic. This avant-garde, yet classic fastener has teeth like herring bone, ideal for fashion and accessory designs with a different time-axis trend.

Introduction of Item Utilizing Zippers

“My work titled ‘Family Tree.’ Simply, it is a dress made of zippers (LUMIFINE® zipper in size No.5). I made these dresses for an exhibition organized by YKK in London in 2011. For this exhibition, I actually selected 10 young designers who were sincere in their creations and I asked them to present their works. I was impressed by their attitude about creation and I thought of bringing them under my umbrella. They inspired me to express myself and create ‘Family Tree.’ Their works empowered the exhibition itself, too.”

Kei Kagami    Kei Kagami 

 

LUMIFINE® glow-in-the-dark zipper can be used both as a safety feature at night, as well as a fashion accessory for clothing during the daytime.

▼  KEI KAGAMI(External link)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keikagami_/