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Rei Kawakubo Talks About Balancing Business With Design in Rare Interview

Photo: Bernard Weil/Getty Images

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Notoriously press-averse Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo granted an interview to The Guardian in which she talks about her trailblazing business and design practices and dispels rumors that she's retiring.

Kawakubo talks about her ability to stay independent while almost every other successful label gets gobbled up by the likes of LVMH and Kering. "The first thing you need in order to make a business viable is to preserve a cash flow. I made sure I didn't have any financial backing or support," says Kawakubo. "I was always very careful to work within my means — I never departed from that. I was adamant to never carry debt."

She's accomplished this by branching out into the fragrance category, a business that, according to the Guardian, is booming. She has also opened up Dover Street Market stores in New York, London, Beijing, and Tokyo and collaborated only selectively with figures like Pharrell, Apple, and Mick Jagger.

Kawakubo also says that while her designs are often interpreted as political statements, they come much more often from internal influences. While speaking on critics who criticized her first collection as "Hiroshima chic" Kawakubo says, "These critics had it all wrong. Being born in Japan was an accident. There is no direct correlation to my work. Growing up in postwar Japan has made me the person I am, but it is not why I do the work I do. It is a very personal thing — everything comes from inside."

Kawakubo also contradicts a report in Vogue that stated the most recent Comme des Garçons collection may have been the designer's last. Phew.