"More Than" is an ongoing series for those looking to move past cult brands and onto elevated and refined alternatives. Whether you are simply exploring or are already a devoted fan, each brand below—while tangentially related—allows the wearer to expand his or her repertoire while simultaneously standing out from the crowd.

When Rei Kawakubo founded Comme des Garçons in 1973, Japanese fashion was largely an afterthought. The fashion press’ gaze was firmly fixed on the four established capitals—Paris, Milan, New York and London—while buyers where wholly unaware of anyone operating outside those spheres of influence. Following Kawakubo’s legendary takeover of Paris in 1981—when Comme des Garçons first staged its first runway show–Japan was suddenly on the fashion sets radar. The designers use of a predominantly black color palette and atypical fabric choices was drastically different than anything else in Paris, and helped introduce an entirely new point of view, often referred to as “anti-fashion.” Kawakubo’s work set the stage for Yohji Yamamoto (who arrived in Paris two years later) and alongside contemporary Issey Miyake the big three ruled the Paris runways, prodding many journalists, buyers and consumers to travel to Japan and explore the local fashion scene. More than four decades later, Comme des Garçons is not only the face of Japanese fashion, but a massive conglomerate encompassing dozens of sub-labels and grossing hundreds of millions of dollars annually. A household name courtesy of wallets, perfumes and those ubiquitous PLAY converse, Comme is no longer simply the face of avant-garde fashion. Thankfully, Kawakubo’s work inspired a generation of designers, many of whom went on to work for her in some capacity. For those who have graduated from PLAY cardigans—or simply can’t fit into Comme des Garçons Homme Plus tailoring—the following brands are expanding the universe Kawakubo built.

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