The final chapters of ‘20 Years: Recoded’ see the brand remix its legacy to celebrate its two-decade anniversary

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of Y-3, Yohji Yamamoto’s long-running collaboration with adidas. Since the brand’s foundation in 2002, the Tokyo-born designer and the sportswear giant have defined the athletic avant-garde and pushed streetwear to new heights. At its heart, it’s a story of fruitful juxtapositions: blending Japanese craftsmanship and German innovation, and blurring the (now indistinguishable) lines between style and sport.

Over the course of 2022, Y-3 has introduced another contrast, exploring the relationship between the past and future, heritage and innovation. For its SS22 offerings, the brand delved into the past two decades to tell the tale of its success via remixes of Yamamoto’s visual codes – see: relaxed, functional tailoring, and floral motifs that merged six historic prints into one. These clothes represented chapters one and two of the brand’s thematic exploration of its past, collected under the label ‘20 Years: Recoded’. But that’s only half of the story.

For AW22, Y-3 brings us the second half of the narrative, AKA chapters three and four. In the penultimate instalment of the story, dubbed ‘Memories of Orange’, Yamamoto hones in on one of the brand’s most important colours (have a guess). Like the tang of fruit that takes you back to summers gone by, the colour orange is inseparable from the brand’s trailblazing legacy, having served as the primary colour of its logo for many years.

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This season, the colour orange is worked into the collection via luminous, oversized puffer jackets, two-tone hoodies, and reworked colourways for Y-3’s iconic sneaker silhouettes. At the other end of the spectrum, chapter three is rounded out with a palette of black and neutral tones, worked into garments that reference football, a sport that has proved an “unending influence” on the brand.

Closing out 20 Years: Recoded is chapter four, which encapsulates the year-long project to tap into the collective memory of Y-3 and the brand’s lasting cultural impact. More specifically, the final chapter embodies Yohji Yamamoto’s in-built rebellious spirit, which it seems is still going strong at the age of 78. Subtitled ‘Memories of Exotics’, the finale sees the brand recentre its attention on “a distinctly textural concept” – something that has run throughout Yamamoto’s creative output for Y-3 over the last 20 years, aided by technological innovations at adidas.

The resulting looks rework and distort the iconography of past collections, always keeping one eye on the future. All-over leopard print graphics add an expressive edge to functional garments, and sporty silhouettes are offset by moments of avant-garde tailoring or sheer, billowing fabrics.

Take a closer look at Y-3’s AW22 campaign in the gallery above.