For Chitose Abe, there is nothing more important than stability. The somewhat enigmatic designer—she has, recently, become slightly more available to Western media—is proof in the flesh that, in a fashion landscape seemingly dominated by fast fashion, slow and steady can win the race. Sacai was launched in 1999 and existed in relative anonymity for a decade. But, to say that Abe and her team “toiled” in anonymity would be misleading: there were no gripes about a lack of publicity or popular acclaim and keeping a low profile was intentional.

The daughter of a seamstress, Chitose Sakai—Sakai is her maiden name—grew up immersed in fashion. Drawing inspiration from what she saw in magazines and on TV, Chitose developed a reputation as a trendsetter in school, and she explained to SSENSE that “[her] friends in class copied [her] and had their moms make the same.” When she was in fifth grade, Chitose saw Issey Miyake on a commercial and was thrilled to learn that “being a fashion designer can be someone’s job!” Becoming a designer “became [her] dream from then on,” and, according to Abe, she “never once even considered doing something else.”

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