Comme des Garcons launched a new woman’s brand “Noir Kei Ninomiya” from 2013 SS. As seen in the name, the brand creates designs centered on the color “black.”

We interviewed the brand designer Kei Ninomiya (29 years old), who is the 5th designer belonging to Comme des Garcons.

Looking back on the days at Rei Kawakubo led Comme des Garcons, Ninomiya says, “Ms. Kawakubo told us pattern makers about abstract and concrete things. Doing my best, I came across surprises and discoveries every season. It was a place where I was able to create designs freely and immerse myself in making them.”

After Ninomiya graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University, he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp). Being keen about designing, he drops out to join Comme des Garcons in September 2008. He worked as a pattern maker for the brand for 8 seasons and in October 2012, he became the designer for the new line Noir Kei Ninomiya. The brand name was decided with Rei Kawakubo. On the color black, Ninomiya comments, “It is one of my favorite colors. It is strong and beautiful. This one color can show different expressions depending on how it is processed, what types of techniques are used and which materials are selected.”

For the first season, 18 styles were introduced. In Japan, the designs were sold solely at the Trading Museum Comme des Garcons in Omotesando, Tokyo. For the second season, 48 styles will be introduced. “I wanted to fuse conflicting elements of organic and inorganic matter.” His designs have both warm and cold feels such as: hand-made knit with laser cutting, knit lapped over metal ring with biological motif, knit with an embroidered logo of plants. Knits are the first challenge for Ninomiya.

“I focused on knitting. I see crows picking up wire or something on the ground to build their nests. Like them, I thought I might make knits using odds and ends around me. I like to think of ideas to realize things that seem impossible.”

Blouson with geometric patterns also centers on “knitting.” “This is made with houndstooth patterns, thinking that I can knit the graphics three-dimensionally. Making the most of the graphics, I sorted out the balance between darts appropriate for clothes and houndstooth patterns.” Likewise, he created dresses and skirts using the same method.

“I am constantly pushing myself to design new things and things that I have never encountered before. I want to create items that are special and make people feel happy and excited. Kind of like treasures or jewels. I want to differentiate myself from other brands. I base my creations on what I see as being fresh. I will continue to do the best that I can.”

At Comme des Garcons, each designer sets the prices for the clothes and handles the branding. For this new brand, bottoms will cost around 20,000 yen to 50,000 yen, outers around 60,000 yen to 140,000 yen, shirts around 20,000 yen to 30,000 yen, and cut-and-sews around 10,000 yen.

“Prices are a part of the design process. With the cooperation from factories and business partners, these prices were realized. It is important to set the right price, because I want young people to enjoy the clothes as well. I’m not aiming to design clothes for museum exhibits, rather I want my designs to be picked up at stores, and inspire customers. I intend on maintaining the prices and quality.”

From this fall/winter, the brand will be lined up at Dover Street Market Ginza, Comme des Garcons Marunouchi, Kyoto and Daimaru Kobe stores. A pop-up event will be held for one week at Isetan Shinjuku starting July 10th. “I am happy to have the opportunity to have my designs sold at various stores. I am a little nervous that so many people will see my clothes. Because I joined this industry to be a part of seeing, touching, wearing and being inspired by clothes, I hope that my customers will feel the same way about my designs. I want to bring in new types of customers to Comme des Garcons and contribute to the company in this way.”

For the 2014 SS season, new types of clothes based in black (of course) will be in stores.