LVMH Prize Awarded to Streetwear De­signer

Jury mem­bers said Masayuki Ino’s la­bel re­flected the chang­ing de­mands of the so­cial me­dia era.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY JOELLE DIDERICH

PARIS — Ja­panese de­signer Masayuki Ino won the 2018 edi­tion of the LVMH Prize for Young De­sign­ers with his streetwear la­bel Dou­blet, un­der­scor­ing the ap­peal of gen­der-neu­tral, ca­sual de­signs for a new gen­er­a­tion of con­sumers keen to shed tra­di­tional la­bels.

Emma Stone, speak­ing in French, an­nounced the win­ner on Wed­nes­day at the Fon­da­tion Louis Vuit­ton in Paris in the pres­ence of jury mem­bers in­clud­ing Karl Lager­feld of Fendi, Dior de­signer Maria Grazia Chi­uri, Louis Vuit­ton's Ni­co­las Gh­esquière and Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller.

Ino beat some 1,300 ap­pli­cants to walk away with a grand prize of 300,000 eu­ros, plus a year of coach­ing from ex­perts at lux­ury gi­ant LVMH Moët Hen­nessy Louis Vuit­ton, par­ent of fash­ion houses in­clud­ing Vuit­ton, Loewe, Cé­line,

Ber­luti and Marc Ja­cobs.

The run­ner-up spe­cial prize, pre­sented by Jaden Smith, went to South Korean de­signer Rok Hwang's Lon­don-based women's wear la­bel Rokh.

At 38, Ino was the old­est can­di­date among the nine fi­nal­ists of this year's edi­tion of the prize. A grad­u­ate of Tokyo's Mode Gakuen Col­lege of Fash­ion and De­sign, he worked as an ac­ces­sories de­signer for Mi­haraya­suhiro be­fore launch­ing Dou­blet in 2012 with a con­cept he summed up as “daily wear with strange­ness.”

His graphic, tongue-in-cheek de­signs, such as sweat­shirts fea­tur­ing dis­torted riffs on var­sity lo­gos, have been worn by celebri­ties such as Travis Scott, Kendall Jen­ner and Liam Payne. The la­bel re­ceived a ma­jor boost last year when it was one of six brands se­lected by the Tokyo Fash­ion Award, which pro­motes Ja­panese fash­ion over­seas.

Dou­blet's spring col­lec­tion, stocked at Dover Street Mar­ket in Lon­don and 10

Corso Como in Shang­hai, fea­tured plas­tic-cov­ered T-shirts. His pre­sen­ta­tion on Wed­nes­day in­cluded lentic­u­lar prints, tai­lored jack­ets made of sel­vage Har­risons cloth, and com­pres­sion T-shirts that ex­pand when soaked in wa­ter.

“I want cus­tomers to en­joy not only the buy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but to con­tinue hav­ing fun af­ter shop­ping. That's why the pack­ag­ing is im­por­tant,” Ino said through an in­ter­preter.

Gh­esquière said the jury was won over by the orig­i­nal­ity of the de­signs. “He's un­like any­one else. It's com­pletely in­di­vid­ual, and in his cat­e­gory — which can be loosely de­fined as sports­wear, but in fact is so much more — there's a qual­ity of ex­e­cu­tion and a level of tech­ni­cal re­search that are re­ally im­pres­sive,” he said.

“What struck me dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion is that it's one thing when you see his clothes on the hanger, but when you see them in move­ment, they take on a dif­fer­ent life be­cause they're ex­tremely light, and in that respect, very unique and mod­ern,” Gh­esquière added.

Waight Keller, join­ing LVMH's star-stud­ded jury for the first time, was im­pressed by Ino's pas­sion for fab­ric de­vel­op­ment and his plays on prod­uct pack­ag­ing.

“It's re­ally a kind of 360-de­gree view he had on that, and it felt fresh and mod­ern — al­most like a mod­ern-day Issey Miyake, ex­per­i­ment­ing, try­ing new tech­nol­ogy and re­ally try­ing to push the bound­aries of how you view tex­tiles and how you in­ter­pret it into clothes,” she ex­plained.

“We all loved that pas­sion that he had, and even the fact he has some­what of a lan­guage bar­rier, he still re­ally tried to com­mu­ni­cate his pas­sion and we felt he just pre­sented an idea in a unique way,” she added.

Ino, whose brand is sold in 30 stores in Ja­pan and another 25 world­wide, said he was “very hon­ored” by the Miyake com­par­i­son, but hopes to re­main grounded. He doesn't know yet how he will spend the prize money, though he may ex­pand his team, which con­sists of just four peo­ple at present.

“What's im­por­tant for me is not spend­ing a lot. I want to stay who I am and keep the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

The past four win­ners of the main prize are Thomas Tait, Mar­ques' Almeida, Grace Wales Bon­ner and Marine Serre, and the award has also boosted the ca­reers of its run­ner-up spe­cial-prize win­ners: Hood by Air, Mi­u­niku, Jac­que­mus, Ve­jas and Koz­aburo Akasaka.

Hwang, who won a grant of 150,000 eu­ros and a one-year men­tor­ship from the LVMH group, also hopes to hire more staff. The Cen­tral Saint Martins grad­u­ate, who has worked at Louis Vuit­ton, Chloé and Cé­line, launched his la­bel in 2016.

“I'm also look­ing for­ward to get­ting men­tor­ship from LVMH and then to build strong foun­da­tions so I can ac­tu­ally op­er­ate much more flu­idly,” he said.

“In prac­ti­cal terms, I have to be hon­est, ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment is a chal­lenge day-to-day. It's never the same. I am a cre­ative, so to un­der­stand the busi­ness, admin side of it, or to un­der­stand the lo­gis­tics and de­liv­er­ies and ev­ery­thing, it's all new in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

“Fash­ion school teaches you ev­ery­thing, but I think it's a dif­fer­ent story when you're ac­tu­ally start­ing your own busi­ness,” he re­marked.

In­deed, the ex­pe­ri­ence of pre­vi­ous win­ners il­lus­trates the pit­falls await­ing fledg­ling brands in an in­creas­ingly crowded field.

Tait and Hood by Air no longer pro­duce col­lec­tions, while Ve­jas Kruszewski has put his la­bel on ice to be­come cre­ative di­rec­tor of Pi­hakapi, a brand from Ital­ian leather ap­parel pro­ducer Pelle Moda.

Del­phine Ar­nault, the force be­hind the prize and a key tal­ent scout at LVMH, said fail­ure was al­ways a risk, but that should not de­ter young de­sign­ers.

“Just be­cause you fail once, it doesn't mean you can't go on to achieve great things. In fact, the best en­trepreneurs al­ways say that it's through fail­ure that they've learned the most,” she said. “That's com­mon wis­dom in the tech world, but in France, we don't re­ally have a cul­ture of fail­ure.”

Ar­nault can draw on a deep well of en­tre­pre­neur­ial ex­pe­ri­ence: not only is she sec­ond-in-com­mand at Louis Vuit­ton, the largest and most prof­itable brand in the family-con­trolled group, but her fa­ther is LVMH chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Bernard Ar­nault, and her part­ner is tech en­trepreneur Xavier Niel.

She un­der­lined that for ev­ery win­ner that has strug­gled, there are suc­cess sto­ries such as Serre, who won the main prize last year and dropped by to up­date the jury on her progress. “She has dou­bled her num­ber of points of sale and she has done a lot of work on bol­ster­ing the pro­duc­tion side,” Ar­nault re­ported.

Sidney Toledano, who joined the jury this year in his new role as chair­man and ceo of LVMH Fash­ion Group, said he was con­fi­dent about many of the fi­nal­ists. “They are start-ups — they're not just young de­sign­ers,” he said.

“They want to be cre­ative and stand out, but they're also aware of is­sues like pro­duc­tion and pric­ing. When they present their prod­ucts, they talk about ev­ery­thing: image, dis­tri­bu­tion points, dig­i­tal,” he added. “Whether they're 27 or 39, they all have that vi­sion — that's what's ter­rific.”

He noted that the im­me­di­acy of so­cial me­dia has also forced de­sign­ers to be­come more prag­matic.

“It cuts out the need for go-be­tweens, who would some­times have to ex­plain to de­sign­ers that some­thing wasn't work­ing. They would be afraid, be­cause [the de­sign­ers] were such di­vas. Nowa­days, they see it for them­selves. That's why they're re­al­is­tic: be­cause they're faced with cus­tomers' re­ac­tions and opin­ions,” Toledano said.

He em­pha­sized that this didn't amount to crowd­sourc­ing de­sign. “They are also cre­ative peo­ple be­cause they see what other peo­ple are do­ing and they want to be dif­fer­ent, so they're in­no­va­tive. They try to of­fer some­thing else,” he said.

As a re­sult, pre­sen­ta­tion skills have be­come more im­por­tant than ever. “Communication is fun­da­men­tal in fash­ion, es­pe­cially with to­day's so­cial net­works,” Ar­nault said. “It's an in­te­gral part of the job of de­signer. They must both create and com­mu­ni­cate.”

The other brands on the short list in­cluded gen­der-neu­tral de­sign­ers Matthew Adams Dolan, based in New York; Lu­dovic de Saint Sernin from Paris; Zoe Latta and Mike Eck­haus of the New York-based la­bel Eck­haus Latta, and Glaswe­gian de­signer Charles Jef­frey, whose Charles Jef­frey Lover­boy brand ex­tends to a night­club.

Round­ing out the list were A-Cold-Wall, a Bri­tish men's wear la­bel de­signed by Sa­muel Ross; Kwaidan Edi­tions, a Lon­don-based women's wear brand by Léa Dick­ely and Hung La, and An­twerp-based men's wear brand Bot­ter, by Rushemy Bot­ter and Lisi Her­re­brugh.

LVMH also re­warded three grad­u­ates: Archie M. Alled-Martínez from Cen­tral Saint Martins, Maya Chantout from Ecole de la Cham­bre Syn­di­cale de la Cou­ture Parisi­enne and Scylia Che­vaux from Ac­cademia Cos­tume & Moda. They will join Givenchy, Cé­line and Louis Vuit­ton, re­spec­tively, for one year.

Masayuki Ino and Rok Hwang with mem­bers of the all-star fash­ion jury.

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