Having begun has career as an apprentice pattern-maker at Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe quickly established himself as a distinguished talent, boasting an avant-garde design aesthetic and becoming an unofficial protégé for the iconic Rei Kawakubo . Following the launch of his namesake label under the Comme des Garçons umbrella, the prolific designer garnered international critical acclaim for his mastery in conceptual designs, pattern manipulation and innovative use of synthetic materials. Launched in 1992, Watanabe presented his first collection in Paris in 1993, adding a menswear line for the Spring/Summer 2002 season.
Hailing from Fukushima in central Japan, Watanabe attended the world renowned Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo — the alma mater of designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada — graduating in 1984. Having joined Comme des Garçons shortly after, Watanabe worked his way steadily upwards and in 1987 was named as design director of the Tricot knitwear line, holding the position until 1992.
A notoriously individualistic designer — eschewing traditional advertising and stores — Watanabe entered into his first mainstream collaboration with American sneaker brand Converse in 2007, designing a series of All Star sneakers. In 2012 Watanabe also partnered with Puma, using the company’s acid hued fabrics to create his Spring/Summer 2013 collection.