A reserved approach to structured tailoring—best characterized by the catchphrase “less is more”—has defined the fashion design of the past few seasons. Celine is leading the mainstream movement, but Carol Christian Poell and Martin Margiela, who have been proponents of the subtle look for years, are imbuing simple garments with the ability to be worn multiple ways, a quality that is perhaps better described as being “interestingly uncomplicated.” This notion also applies to Tokyo designer Yoko Ito’s Individual Sentiments, a label that deftly mixes Japanese conceptualism with precise Italian tailoring.
Ito enjoyed the freedom she found in Italian design and the understanding that came from using such delicate yarns while working under Maurizio Altieri for Italian labels Intervallo and Avantindietro for more than a decade. “I learned about construction under a thorough concept with Maurizio, and, compared to working in Japan, I was encouraged to design with a certain sensitivity and that was very freeing,” she explains.
Inspired by such visionary philosophy as the “aim to arouse emotions and feelings usually hidden, and a need to provide a chance for mutual understanding between people via clothes,” she eventually launched Individual Sentiments in 2008. Although the brand is housed under the menswear category for purposes of simplification—it showed at Paris Men’s Fashion Week for the first time this January—Individual Sentiments generally defies gender trends. The directional label offers fine knits, drapery and structured suiting that are all defined by bold silhouettes and an approach to craftsmanship that is almost origami-like in nature. Made in limited quantities using fine Italian yarns, past collectors items have included such striking items as a high-collar angora jacket featuring cotton jersey sleeves and extended lining with a thumb hole clasp, an angora stole and box layering cut on the bias.
Each collection is accompanied by short black-and-white films that double as style files and add to the dark mystique of the brand. And with pieces only available in Japan, the US and London, it’s easy to see why Ito has garnered a cult following with her designs. She seeks to encourage the co-evolution of culture and art through her work, hoping that people who buy her pieces are “those that are ever evolving, like the clothes.”