On May 12, a press conference was held at Isetan Shinjuku for the new accessory brand “discord” by Yohji Yamamoto. The designer’s statements at the conference are fully revealed below.

“I’m focused on promoting a ‘cool’ Japan and presenting extremely high level cutting-edge Japanese aesthetics. Basically, it’s a new level of creation seen nowhere else in the world. As a business, these are soft skills, and I think this is about the only thing Japan has to export. Such being the case, our government is too fixated on promoting anime and characters alone.”

“For a while, I wasn’t able to produce any satisfactory results for my goal. Then Isetan came to me and asked me to start a new project involving the design of accessories such as bags and scarves. Since the large renewal at Isetan Shinjuku store last year, the store is focused on art and creation. That’s why it was natural for me to want to be a part of the project, and I immediately accepted the proposal.”

“In my 40-year or so career as a designer, I’d never designed bags. I’m a rare designer. Most male designers who participate in the Paris collections are not infatuated with women. But I’m an old designer who loves women (laugh). That’s why I don’t understand what goes on inside the minds and hearts of women. I have no idea how they carry their bags or how much stuff they have inside. I asked the female designers around me to provide me insight on this unknown territory. I came up with the basic concept, but the details are based on the ideas provided by my female staff.”

“For the first 6 months, discord will be sold exclusively through Isetan Mitsukoshi. After that, the brand will be sold at my stores as a permanent accessories line. I’m determined to grow the brand into an international one. Please continue to provide me with all your support! Thank you very much.”

During the photo session, Yamamoto called out to people to advertise “discord” via Facebook and other SNS.

■ The designer’s responses to journalists at the conference

- Are there things that were made possible through your partnership with Isetan?

Of course. Isetan is a department store which always carries the trendiest items from around the globe.

- You said that the government led “Cool Japan” project is too focused on anime and characters. Could you please elaborate?

Don’t you think it’s disappointing? There’s so much more high quality “cool” things in Japan.

- Do you have any items in mind?

Japanese culture for one. And Japanese aesthetics. These are cool. It’s not possible to create them in any other place but Japan. The so-called culture of subtraction, ma (intervals), reading between the lines and the beauty of disintegration and distortion are our originality and authenticity.

- Are there any Japanese skills and techniques that reflect such sensibilities?

Ever since the Okinawa Reversion Agreement caused devastating damages to the textile industry, the Japanese government has neglected this industry. Despite this, hard-working artisans in small businesses situated in places like Kyoto and Hokuriku continue to make traditional textiles. These world-level textiles cannot be made anywhere else. The artisans are getting old, yet they are the ones protecting the industry. If I can offer items created by them to consumers through my teaming up with Isetan, younger generations may be enticed to follow the steps of these artisans. I’m exaggerating a little, but this keeps me hopeful and hard-working.

- In a way, did you launch this brand as a link to the next generation?

Yes. I think this is something important, especially for people like me who have worked in this industry for so long. I want to try to pass on my knowledge to younger generations as soon as possible.