Kansai Yamamoto isn't exactly a household name when discussing Japanese fashion. Rather, another man with the same last name holds that recognition. Still, while Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Issey Miyake will always be heralded as the Big Three to upend Western ideas of dress in the early 1980's, Kansai Yamamoto got there first. He showed in London in 1971, a full decade before Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. His singular aesthetic—typically overloaded with bold colors and Asiatic-inspired prints—deviates heavily from the conflicted darkness and deconstructed silhouettes of his avant-garde successors.

In the wake of the resurged interest in archival and avant-garde Japanese fashion, it certainly begs the question why Kansai’s work does not receive the same attention as his counterparts. Perhaps his legacy was never meant to be one of resurgence, but one of longevity and influence. While his clothes may be too brash and bold to the point of being unwearable for some, Kansai’s work essentially laid the foundation for contemporary Japanese fashion and continues to influence contemporary clothing.

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