Gently Ganryu Goes

Ganryu SS 2017 Pic 1Denim ensemble of Ganryu spring/summer 2017. Photo: Fashionsnap

By Ray Zhang

Sad, but apparently true: Ganryu, as we know it, shall be no more.

One of the quietest of what BOF calls the “children of Comme des Garçons”, Ganryu Fumito is reported to have closed his eponymous line. According to the Canadian online streetwear stockist Haven, “The Spring/Summer 2017 collection marks the final releases of Fumito Ganryu’s Comme des Garçons imprint Ganryu.” This was confirmed three days ago when Highsnobiety broke the news that, according to a CDG representative, Mr Fumito has left the company.

Launched in 2007 under the CDG umbrella and the auspices of its owners, Ganryu has been the go-to label for those of us who desire everyday clothes that are not too casual and not too Gucci-ish in their need to be visually intrusive. In fact, Ganryu is a respectful sibling that has made CDG one big, happy, avant-garde-leaning family.

The label’s closure is surprising to me because it seems to be doing fairly well in Tokyo, where it has its own free-standing spaces in Hankyu Men and the now-closed-for-rebuilding Parco in Shibuya. The line is also available in CDG’s own stores, as well as Dover Street Market. It saddens me to think that Ganryu’s final collection may not be stocked at DSMS when the latter opens here in July.

Fumito GanryuGanryu Fumito in a sitting for an interview for Oki-Ni

Moreover, Ganryu has been popular among those for whom CDG was getting a tad too successful for its own good. Apparently, the numbers are not large enough for Ganryu to sustain its slightly off-beat but ultimately wearable clothes. A former pattern-cutter for Junya Watanabe, Mr Fumito’s designs have the technical finesse not usually evident in the collections of American streetwear labels, and is more playful (and more attractively priced) than the output of his previous boss. I am especially drawn to the traditional silhouettes within which Mr Fumito works his unexpected pairing of elements, as well as graphical patchwork and stitch work.

Ganryu has been described as streetwear. It is true to a point, but it isn’t street in the convention of, say, Hood by Air (now in hiatus) or Off-White (now the new HBA. Interestingly, Mr Abloh told in 2013 that “streetwear has a one-trick-ponyness to it”). I see its aesthetic more akin to work wear, but tweaked, as CDG-linked brands are inclined to be, for a more fashion-forward audience. Like Sacai, whose designer Abe Chitose is a CDG alumna, Ganryu is proficient in hybrid looks. A jacket, for example, isn’t a vanilla interpretation; it could be an amalgam of hunting and biker wear. Or, a T-shirt could sport oversized pockets usually associated with the parka. Split personality to me: that’s why I am a fan.

What Ganryu Fumito will do next, no one, accept the man, knows. I hope he will go solo as former pattern makers at CDG, Junichi Abe (of Kolor) and his wife Chitose Abe, did, and successfully too. Despite the alleged rise of Korean designers, the world still needs the Japanese to keep fashion forward and infinitely interesting. Ganryu may no longer be a child of Comme des Garçons, but it will never lose the DNA of beguiling creativity. I, and many others, shall wait for your comeback.