HEAD DESIGNER: Junichi Abe
Fabrication. The manufacturing process in which an item is made from raw or semi-finished materials instead of being assembled from ready-made components or parts. This is one of the main ingredients in Junichi Abe’s philosophy of Kolor. All the fabrics are extremely well picked for the pieces, and there are usually up to five or six varying fabrics that usually contrast in interesting ways. Junichi’s concept in his own words: “To produce items that have optimal balance in every aspect, from fabrics to patterns, prices and mood.” The line has a reputation for being very subtle yet innovative, with emphasis on well done construction. The fabrics and fits are usually very comfortable yet strikingly sophisticated. Kolor was one of the pioneers in the modern color blocking phenomenon that has been quite large in Japan recently. In the western world this is also gaining popularity, but to a lesser degree. The line has been producing color block pieces since their first released clothing line in 2005, and still to this date, has in my opinion some of the most interesting and advanced uses of color, fabric and cuts of color blocking that I have yet seen. The level of minute detail, craftsmanship and beautiful materials that go into every piece justifies it's somewhat high cost. The work is quite simple astounding. The entire line is all made and designed in Japan.
Junichi Abe originally was one of the four designers to help start-up the Comme des Garcons label, Junya Watanabe in the early nineties. Among the 4 other designers was White Mountaineering’s Yosuke Aizawa, and Sacai’s Chitose Abe. If the last name did not make it clear, Chitose Abe is now Junichi Abe’s okusan, or wife in Japanese. I find it quite strange that of all the clothing lines in Japan, the first 3 that I was initially drawn to after moving here, were these three lines, even though I was completely unaware of their mutually shared history with Junya Watanabe. Somewhat of mystic occurrence if I do not say so myself, or at the very least a path chosen by taste. Due to this connection with the Comme des Garcons label, the Kolor brand is currently (2014) being sold at all three of Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market locations.
Womens 2010 lineIn 2013 Abe mentioned "I want to get into my collection some happiness", so he began using extensive arrays of color and floral patterns. They nicely counterbalanced his very serious analytical design style to make a perfect balance. Which is clarified with the Abe's statement, "Reality is very important, but too much reality is boring. I need some fantasy."
As of 2014 the man’s label has toned down on it color spectrum quite a bit, going for a more conservative choice of tans browns and other earth tones. The women’s line is more colorful and bright, but this is not an uncommon thing in pretty much any modern clothing line. I personally think people in the fashion world are a bit burnt out on the brown tone spectrum after the market being flush the old timey nostalgia, that it seems somewhat of an odd choice. But this is a Japanese designer, so odd fits the bill the bill quite well. The previous lines a few years back were always somewhat conservative color choices, but there were a few bright colors to throw things off.
They also have a more casual line called Kolor/Beacon. The line has more a relaxed mountain climbing feeling to it. Somewhat in a Patagonia sense, but veered more towards the fashionably inclined. Great design and colored sandals, very well done tie dyed shirts and the like.
Well it will be nice to see where this lines future will take it, as there has been a lot of press and recognition in the last few years. Balenciaga gave mention of this line recently, and said that the most promising line for the foreseeable future was Junichi’s wife’s line, Sacai. So the two are most definitely headed in a good direction.
Kolor's 2014 AW line has an incredibly striking color spectrum compared to the mens of this season. There are many references to the late sixties and early seventies, as well as the 20 year cycle of the late eighties and early nineties. Of course they take the analytical fabric mixtures and drapes that the label is renown for. The lines color spectrum hits dead center into psychedelic seventies, with more vibrant earth tones and shades of tan and brown. There is the occasional pair of sweat pants, tennis shoes and a sports wear number t-shirt to throw the nineties insignia into the mix, as which has become the norm with most designers recently. Although this trend has been common place in Kolor's line since its inception. Beautifully done.
This is a more conservative color spectrum than the usual Kolor lines. But the loose fits, great cuts and fabrics and superb Japanese draping techniques still keep the pieces very interesting. As Junichi has mentioned in the past, the pieces are made so you can mix and match them to anything your personality desires. Of course this is translated from Japanese.Many of the pieces are also leaning towards a late 60's early 70's appeal, which I have personally always had soft spot in my heart for.