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 longtime 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.