TOKYO – Despite the looming arrival of the worst typhoon Tokyo has seen in 10 years, the city’s fashion crowd made a herculean effort to attend the last show of Day 2 of Japan Fashion Week; mintdesigns Spring Summer 2014.

Known for its use of typography and self-created woven fabrics, the 10-year-old brand created by designers Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi has established itself as one of Japan’s top labels, with a hardcore, dedicated following of fans.

mintdesigns ss14 at japan fashion week DECOR 1Opening looks from mintdesigns Spring Summer 2014 runway show at Japan Fashion Week.
Images: Wesley Kow

Of all the shows at Japan Fashion Week, and in fact at most fashion weeks around the world, I’ve never seen as many of the guests turn up wearing the brand from head-to-toe. Cognisant of the support its received over the years, mintdesigns’ shows have 200 tickets put aside for those who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to attend ‒ fans enter online and the first lucky 200 get to see their favourite fashion brand’s latest collection.

It’s this sort of loyalty, dare I say “love”, that has stood mintdesigns in good stead over the years. Allowed to succeed financially, the designer duo are now able to explore more conceptual, less wearable, ideas that can only benefit the brand in the long run.

Opening with a series of marbled prints in two colourways ‒ strong orange and muted greys ‒ the shapes were reminiscent of early Comme des Garçons in that there was distinct, but loose tailoring with the volume descending from the shoulders.

 mintdesigns ss14 at japan fashion week DECOR 2Looks from mintdesigns Spring Summer 2014 runway show at Japan Fashion Week, the clownish shapes remain somehow wearable. Images: Wesley Kow

Unlike Comme des Garçons, however, the mintdesigns pieces had a more fluid feel them with the bright colours and prints adding an extra dimension to the sense of movement each look portrayed.

Although the designers entitled this collection “Vertigo”, the eye wasn’t confused by the swirls of colour, rather the view was drawn to the cheerfulness of the designs, as if the clownish volume ‒ almost certain to add visual inches to those areas most women least wish them ‒ didn’t matter.

There was also a new approach to tailoring; the Autumn Winter 2013 collection included shaped pieces but the proportions were quite unbalanced and cumbersome for all but the most linear of individuals to wear without the jackets and skirts creating un-flattering shapes.

For Spring Summer 2013 there was a more fitted aesthetic to the structured pieces ‒ no body-hugging fitted jackets or skirts thankfully ‒ but a more considered approach to the shaping of waists, shoulders and sleeves.

mintdesigns ss14 for japan fashion week DECOR 3mintdesigns ss14 for japan fashion week DECOR 4
Some of the best looks from mintdesigns Spring Summer 2014 runway show at Japan Fashion Week.  Images: Wesley Kow

Yes, there were still any number of linear tunics, billowing shirts and shift dresses, as well as a few cumbersome shift dresses to keep fans of these signature mintdesigns looks happy; but importantly there were also cuts that will better appeal to an international market.

Stand-out pieces from the SS14 collection included a fabulous “peplum” dress in an apricot pink print, its oversized frill appeared to be almost solid, making the skirt of the dress hang away from the body. A textured “fluffy” collared gillet added volume while remaining quite sexy via its deep v-neck and lack of sleeves; less successful was its “partner”, basically a long-line boxy t-shirt dress in the same textured fabric worn over narrow trousers ‒ commercially it will sell, but on the runway it looked out of place.

Glittering chrome diamond print fabric in a structured skirt and shirt-blouse were stunning pieces, possibly a bit unwearable given the volume on the hips, but fabulous nonetheless; a companion piece of high-collared, knee-length gillet over narrow trousers again, was absolutely stunning ‒ the perfect combination of glam and odd.

A lovely louche, “jumpsuit” ‒ which looks like a floor length gillet over matched trousers ‒ in olive and chrome silver print was also very successful in communicating a more tailored, but still “loose”, aesthetic. Narrow semi-cropped jackets over wide-legged pants once again referenced the narrow-shoulder style of early Comme des Garçons, but the more “human” proportions from mintdesigns added a more refined, less revolutionary, vibe to the pieces.


From beginning to end the mintdesigns Spring Summer 2014 collection was true to that DNA that has brought the label fans from around the world, but the added refinements in cut and better balanced proportions can only add to mintdesign’s number of supporters and bodes well for its eventual expansion into the fashion world beyond Japan.

mintdesigns Spring Summer 2014 collection “Vertigo” was shown at Japan Fashion Week on October 15, 2013. For more information about mintdesigns, go to You can shop mintdesigns online at and follow the brand on Twitter at @mintdesigns. For more information about Japan Fashion Week, go to; follow it on Facebook at and on Twitter at @jfw_official.