For self-proclaimed style-buffs and hardcore fans of Raf Simons, the following news couldn’t be any sweeter: the world’s first and only Raf Simons flagships opened in Tokyo’s Aoyama district last month, followed by an Osaka counterpart in Umeda on Oct 1.
Born in Belgium and trained in industrial design, Simons has earned winning adulation since he began doing menswear in 1995. The new shops echo his design manifesto of mixing precision-cut classics with edgy street influences by giving the retail reigns to artists Roger Hiorns and Sterling Ruby. LA-based Ruby turned the Aoyama store (Hiorns worked on the Osaka store) into a vast canvas with “bleach spots” reminiscent of photo film negatives that span from floor to ceiling. ”Don’t think of the art as part of the shop concept, but rather as a piece of work itself for the artists,” advises Kiyonori Funaki, who heads Simons’ PR in Tokyo.
In another shocking move, Jil Sander, for whom Simons has been chief designer since 2005, was sold to Japanese mega-corporation Onward for €167 million just last month. And yet, thanks to his new outposts and throngs of eager far-east fans, the Simons sensation in the land of the rising sun will continue its own skyward ascent.