Kenzo is a luxury French fashion brand with a Japanese style. The label started from nothing and is now competing with other high-end brands. Discover the story behind the interbreed couture house, below.
Founder of the brand Kenzo
Takada Kenzo is a Japanese fashion designer, born on February 27, 1939 in Himeji (Japan). He discovered a passion for fashion at a young age, when he used to look through his elder sister’s magazines.
In 1958, he attended tailoring courses at Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College where he won three years later, the Soen, an award for fashion design competition.
Beginning of his fashion career
After that, Takada worked as a girlswear designer in the Sanai department store and gained a lot of experience in tailoring. He actually designed around forty clothes per month.
A lucky opportunity
Many French designers already inspired Takada Kenzo, namely Yves Saint Laurent, since college. Luckily, fate had in store a hazardous coincidence that made Takada travel to Paris, in which he established his first fashion brand.
In 1969, and due to some reasons, the Japanese government demolished the building where Takada lived. As a result, he received an amount of money that allowed him to go on a trip to his dream country “France”.
Birth of the French brand Kenzo
During his journey there, Takada did his best to sell his work. He even worked in Pisanti, a textile factory, as a stylist, and was determined to open his own fashion shop.
Well, somehow in 1970 Takada met a woman who offered him the opportunity to rent him a place, at a very low price, so that he could establish his own store.
To which the designer agreed and named his boutique “Jungle Jap” in reference to the appearance of his store, all painted in green and as a shoutout to his mother country “Japan”.
Takada Kenzo started a collection by creating clothes with low price fabrics. He did not even have enough money to afford supermodels for this special event. Nevertheless, he displayed his eclectic and bold collection at his very first fashion show at Vivienne Gallery. And it was a real success.
From Jungle Jap to Kenzo
However, the brand name “Jungle Jap” has attracted a lot of controversy.
While the designer was on a trip to the United States, the Japanese American Citizens League summoned him in 1971, requesting Takada to replace or cut off the word “Jap” from his brand name.
A year later, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Takada Kenzo and stated that the word “Jap” is not deemed racist and can be used as a part of a brand name.
However, once he returned to Paris, the designer chose to give another name to his brand. Indeed, he renamed it after his family name “Kenzo”.
In June 1970, Elle magazine promoted one of Takada’s designs on their cover. A proof that his efforts began to pay off.
Takada later moved the location of his fashion shop, from Vivienne Gallery to “Passage Choiseul”.
Expansion of the brand Kenzo
Slowly the brand Kenzo started flourishing. In 1971, Takada’s clothing collection expanded to New York City and later to Tokyo. Then in 1976, a second store took shape in “Place des Victoire” - Paris.
In 1984, Kenzo collaborated with TLS (The Limited Stores). Actually, they agreed on designing an affordable clothing collection, which will be called Album by Kenzo.
The fashion brand started to introduce new lines, namely Kenzo Jungle which is intended for children. Kenzo also began to design jeans for men and women.
Style of the brand Kenzo
Kenzo is a French brand created by a Japanese fashion designer. This interbreeding led to a combination of European and Asian style. Therefore, the embodiment of diversity, traditions and cultures by Kenzo pieces is mainly the signature of the brand.
Besides the above mentioned main inspirations of all Kenzo’s products, the French label is known for praising comfort and coziness through loose and bulky silhouettes.
Kenzo famous designers
Takada wanted to devote himself in Art exclusively, and withdrew from his company in 1999. Even after his departure from the fashion universe, Takada undertook sometimes few projects. For instance, in 2019 he designed the costumes of Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation, especially for the production of Madama Butterfly.
Roy Krejberg and Gilles Rosier masterfully replaced him, as the new Kenzo creatives. Then in 2008, Antonio Marras was appointed as the following creative director of Kenzo, till 2011. In this year, the new fantastic pair of stylists Carol Lim and Humberto Leon brought the brand Kenzo into the Haute Couture league.
Since 2019, the portoguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista continues to maintain the brand up high through sophisticated designs and accessories. He preserves the brand’s concept, i.e: the inspiration by nature.
What is Kenzo famous for
Under Lim and Leon, Kenzo became a high-end fashion brand. The most known piece of the label would be the Kenzo tiger pattern and the glittering prints representing the “evil eyes”.
Logo of the brand Kenzo
The very first logo of the brand was decorated with flowers which reflects Kenzo house philosophies and ideologies, in particular the celebration of nature.
Nevertheless, the brand’s official logo was the brand name itself but containing capital letters written in bold.
However, since the brand was deeply known through the iconic tiger pattern, which is the most famous Kenzo prints. The duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon mutually agreed to replace the logo by the brand visual identity. That is to say that a tiger upon a dark background would represent the brand Kenzo.
Who wears Kenzo
The fashion brand Kenzo is more or less reserved for audacious persons.
Celebrities wearing Kenzo
The Kenzo tiger attracted several celebrities, namely the former US first lady Michele Obama.
Or Beyonce, to whom Humberto Leon and Carol Lim made a Kenzo outfit, bearing the colorful Leopard pattern, especially for her first performance of Grown Woman for her Mrs Carter Tour in Paris.
Besides, Jessica Alba succumbs as well to Kenzo's flagship print, the Clouded Leopard coat. Selena Gomez also was spotted wearing a sexy combi bearing Kenzo prints.
Why is Kenzo so popular
The creative director of Kenzo joins responsibility awareness to the fashion industry. Since the luxury brand has been prominent thanks to the iconic tiger logo, Felipe collaborated with the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in order to contribute for the protection of wild animals and to fight against environmental damage.
The collaboration included a new line of T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies...etc. made of certified organic cotton and bearing Kenzo's tiger print. Per each purchased garment, there would be 10 dollars going to the World Wildlife Fund. By doing so, Felipe spreads responsibility vibes.
Who owns the brand Kenzo
The French luxury group LVMH purchased the brand Kenzo, in 1993. Takada remained the designer until he announced his retirement in 1999. And as you have read above, many talented designers followed him, masterfully. They preserved and enhanced Takada’s legacy.
Briefly to conclude,
The designs of Kenzo embody different cultures and traditions that inspired the founder during his journeys around the world, at the time. The brand’s values are still developing in the right hands.