With collections like “○△□,” “凹凸,” “SILHOUETTE,” and “ALPHABET,” ANREALAGE delivers conceptual and evocative collections every season. Questioning the obvious and reconsidering the ordinary, this brand proclaims that “the body as a measure for clothes must be reexamined; without changing this ruler, new clothes cannot emerge.” Incorporating this outlook into its 2010-11 A/W collection, “wideshortslimlong,” ANREALAGE amazed audiences by using mannequins with distorted height to width ratios. Let’s see what Kunihiko Morinaga, the designer and genius behind the brand, has to say.
You began attending VANTAN DESIGN INSTITUTE while you were still a student at Waseda University, and started making clothes. Was there a key moment in your university life as a student that motivated you?
When I entered university, Keisuke Kanda of “keisuke kanda” was in his 4th year, and “tokyo ripper” designer Hideaki Sato was in his 3rd year. Both of them were already working on their own brands. Meeting these two was a big factor. Kanda’s fashion show, where he turned the inside of a running train into a runway was astounding. It made me depart from my prior notion of fashion shows as simply displays of stylish clothes to presentations that communicate strong messages. This made me realize the power of clothes, and I wanted to express through this medium as well.
ANREALAGE 2009 S/S COLLECTION “○△□” © ANREALAGE CO.,LTD
ANREALAGE gets its brand name by combining 3 keywords: “real,” “unreal,” and “age.” Can you tell us, as the designer, how you interpret these words?
“Real” is the ordinary, but “unreal” is not about the extraordinary, the fantastical, or the virtual. I understand it as the hidden features within the ordinary that go unnoticed or unobserved. “Age” is something that is always following us. I think there is great meaning to be born into this age or era, and to make clothes in this same age. I want to confront this age as I work. Also, the reason it is “AN REAL” instead of “UN REAL” is because I want to depict the ordinary, and to really focus on the strangeness and the overlooked within the ordinary, or what is real.
Tell us about your newest collection, “wideshortslimlong.”
Originally, clothes making was based on seeking fit and comfort against the human body. But 4 seasons ago, I decided to abandon this notion, and began making clothes more freely without feeling bound to accepted patterns. Instead of simply creating new forms, we wanted to come up with a new methodology at a more fundamental level. We started with the core idea of making garments based on our own standards, and ignored established patterns. Until last season, the collections were removed from the human body. They were abstract and based on symbols. But this time, we wanted to return to the body and make clothes from a different set of criteria.
Long skirts, wide pants, slim pants, and short jackets—this collection comes from our doubts regarding the 4 adjectives that define these pieces of clothing. From a different standard, a long skirt could be considered short. There is no definitive concept of wide, short, slim, or long. If it feels long, it is long. If it feels short, it is short. These notions are not measurable with a ruler, but they are as they are perceived. Embracing the idea that “the body as a measure for clothes must be reexamined; without changing this ruler, new clothes cannot emerge,” as our theme, we produced original mannequins with distorted height to width ratios, and dressed them. Even small details like buttons, tags, and hangers were adjusted to fit the proportions of these garments.
What kind of trial and error process was there before the collection was finished?
The starting point was where we wavered the most. Without a new framework for patterns, new clothes probably cannot emerge. No matter how innovative or interesting clothes are, they still have to be wearable. This is where I struggle every season.
What do you want to convey or express the most, through clothes making?
Even though I develop the concept and make the clothes, I do not get to decide where people go in my pieces, and I cannot make people wear them everyday. When it comes down to it, clothes are only clothes. That is the transience of clothes, and the reason why they are so powerful. It is different from art that must be appreciated from afar. Clothes hold the power of being incorporated into everyday life. Choosing and wearing outfits mean that a good portion of the 24 hours in each day is spent in those garments. If my pieces are chosen, if they become a part of a person’s day, they have the possibility of becoming a small part of that person’s life. Through the clothes we make, we may be able to slightly alter the ordinary, the everyday life. This power behind clothes is what I want to express.
ANREALAGE designer. Established “ANREALAGE” in 2003. “AN・REAL・AGE” denotes “real, unreal, age.” Winner of the Avant-Garde Award at “GEN ART 2005.” His first runway debut was Tokyo Collection in 2006. His work has been exhibited at Stockholm’s Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in 2009.