As president of conceptual, anti-establishment fashion brand Comme des Garçons International and Dover Street Market International, South African-born Adrian Joffe oversees the international arm of the company that his wife, designer Rei Kawakubo , founded in 1969. Credited with softening the image of the designer known for her uncompromising, “anti-fashion” creative vision, and now acting as her preferred spokesperson and translator, Joffe was a linguist who had earned a degree in Japanese and Tibetan languages.
While Joffe was in Tokyo working on a licensing deal for his sister, he took notice of Kawakubo’s rapidly expanding empire and growing legion of diehard fans. He moved to Paris from his long-time London base to join the company as commercial director. He married Kawakubo in 1993 and was eventually named president of the company, returning the Paris-based Comme des Garçons International to profitability and allowing Kawakubo to focus on Tokyo.
Joffe also oversaw the opening of Dover Street Market in London in 2004. The multi-brand retail concept was extended to Tokyo in 2006 and opened in New York in late 2013.
Under Joffe’s stewardship, the brand’s various apparel and accessories offshoots, like the T-shirt concept “Play” and its wallet line, have done much to enhance its commercial appeal. However, Comme des Garçons remains a highly unconventional label, selling and producing nearly all of its show pieces and retaining a group of designers like Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara under its creative umbrella.