Behind the HYPE: How sacai Became a Modern Fashion Staple

HYPEBEAST investigates how Chitose Abe turned a fashion secret into an industry mainstay.

Fashion
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Once a secret to fashion’s insiders, sacai‘s double-layered silhouettes and unique design combinations now reside at the forefront of the industry. Chitose Abe, the visionary behind the brand’s contemporary aesthetic, catapulted the label into fashion’s mainstream through a plethora of high-profile collaborations that ultimately paved the way for sacai’s present-day prowess.

Prior to the sacai’s establishment, Abe worked as a pattern-maker for Comme des Garçons under famous designers including Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe. After eight years, she resigned from her position when she became pregnant with her first child. “I felt that after having a child I wouldn’t be able to work the same way at any company so I left,” Abe said in an interview with SSENSE. “At that point I wasn’t thinking about starting my own brand. I obstensibly quit in order to raise my daughter.”

However, the isolation of early motherhood left Abe with a yearning for creativity. Thus, sacai — named after her maiden name, “Sakai” — was born. Abe first worked out of a small office space in Tokyo, where she cultivated “sacai luck,” the brand’s 2006 lingerie line, which later expanded into a full womenswear collection. Two years later, sacai debuted its first lookbook during Paris Fashion Week, before launching its first men’s collection in 2009.

Dior, The North Face, ACRONYM and KAWS only represent a fraction of sacai’s pivotal collaborators, and while each of the aforementioned labels aided the brand in its top-speed growth, sacai’s work with Nike was undoubtedly the most pioneering. In 2015, sacai’s Nike collaboration was one of the first to place an emphasis on streetwear for women, but it was the duo’s LDWaffle sneaker, famously worn by the likes of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Lil Uzi Vert and A$AP Rocky, that truly placed sacai on the map in 2019.

Abe has since grown sacai into a fashion staple that lives on the shelves of more than 175 international retailers, to date.

Watch the full Behind the Hype video above.

Elsewhere in fashion, JW Anderson has tapped Oscar Wilde for a second capsule collection.

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