Blanc YM Designer - Yutaro Miyauchi

Tokyo-based independent designer in his 30s creates clothes that are "accumulation of tangible"

Edit&Text by Yukihisa Takei(HONEYEE.COM)
Photo by Kiyotaka Hatanaka

Tokyo-based brands have become more minimalist and less symbolic in recent years. Even if you don't instantly recognise the brand, those who know the silhouette, the materials and the detail work can nod their heads in agreement, and the answer often lies only in the satisfaction of the wearer. Perhaps, fashion has become more personal than it used to be, and this is the reality for Tokyo's clothes lovers today.

Blanc YM is one of those brands that represent the current Tokyo style. The items are basic and simple, and the designs are not fussy but neither are they cliche. Yet the brand has gradually gained recognition for its distinctive design work, which is easily recognisable as Blanc YM.

We paid a visit to the atelier of Blanc YM in Nakameguro, Tokyo, to speak to the designer, Yutaro Miyauchi, about his creative process behind one of Tokyo's most exciting young brands.

Being conscious of clothing itself rather than fashion culture

Designer Yutaro Miyauchi launched the brand independently in 2015 at the age of 26 and continues to run it almost on his own, but has become more and more popular in recent years.

Miyauchi got into clothes in the early 2000s when he was a junior high school student, at the height of the Supreme, BAPE® and Urahara brands' popularity, but he says he was also quick to lose interest in those fashion cultures.

“I think my generation was more into the culture around clothes, but I was more interested in the clothes themselves. Naturally, I was attracted to vintage clothing and fashion, but I was more interested in the design and origins of the clothes”.

After graduating from high school, he followed his interest and attended the evening course at Bunka Fashion College. At the time, he was vaguely interested in the world of fashion design but had no intention of becoming a designer. However, within three years of graduating, he had saved up enough funds to set up Blanc, the forerunner of his current brand.

“By the time I graduated, I wanted to start my own business as I couldn't imagine myself working for a company at that time, so I set up my own brand without learning from anyone. I started the brand just because I love clothes, which in hindsight I think was a bit reckless."

Looked for production background on his own

The first collection in the S/S 2015 season, started with just five styles with ten pieces.

“I only had one rack of trench coats, trousers and T-shirts. I showed them at a joint exhibition and luckily found a few stockists, which gave me a good start as a brand, not only financially but also in terms of motivation”.

The more dedicated to making clothes, the more important the production background becomes. Especially when the clothes are not printed, which is Miyauchi's aim, it is essential to cooperate with fabric suppliers and sewing factories but he says that he had to look for the production factories by himself as he had no backbone in the industry.

“I knew that Bishu in Aichi was famous for wool and Hamamatsu in Shizuoka for cotton as basic knowledge, so I went to the local chambers of commerce and industry and asked them if I could see their factories. I also looked for sewing factories through my friends, but it took me a long time to find a factory with a quality I was satisfied with”.

Blanc YM's clothes are often noted for their choice of materials. The designer takes both luxury and synthetic fabrics such as cashmere and nylon in his stride and uses them as he sees fit, sometimes even using silk for trench coats. Sometimes he chooses fabrics from domestic fabric suppliers, but it is not unusual for him to order his own fabrics.

“I don't believe that original fabrics are better, and I don't think that using existing fabrics mean that I am cutting corners. It's just a result of considering how the material fits the garment”.

"Clothes are made by ‘the accumulation of things that are tangible’”

What makes Miyauchi's creations fascinating is that they are not inspiration, material or design-driven. Designers usually put their focus on a certain aspect which often becomes a characteristic of their brand. However, Miyauch tells that " Blanc YM is neither a product brand nor a brand image-oriented brand.", and he sees the core of creation beyond the overall balance. This is the reason why Miyauchi's sensibility is described as "flat".

So where does Miyauchi's clothing-making process start off? He explains that it often starts with the detailing.

“I am the type of person who starts with making the actual garment rather than with a vague inspiration or concept. I tend to start with the smallest details, like the knitting pattern, the pockets or the shape of the collar. It's like a puzzle that you have to put together from there”.

He believes that clothes are made by "the accumulation of things that are tangible".

“For example, I have been making maxi trench coats since the beginning, but the blouson I have made recently is designed like a trench coat which is cut in the centre. The idea is not to make a blouson from scratch, but to create something from my own archives that I have built up over the years. I think that clothes are a series of choices of materials, details and silhouettes and that they are the result of the accumulation of these elements”.

To continue making clothes in Japan

Blanc started with one rack and changed its name to Blanc YM in 2016. With a steady increase of stockists both in Japan and abroad, the brand currently produces 15 to 20 styles per season. This is not a large number compared to other brands.

“The basic idea is that it's a garment that I want to wear, so it takes a lot of time before I'm satisfied with each and every item, and improvements from the 1st and 2nd samples are routine. I don't pursue durability in my clothes, but I believe that in order to make something that can be worn for a long time, I need more time for evaluation”.

And Miyauchi says he tries to visit the production site of the factory as much as possible.

“I often get new ideas by visiting the production site and I think it's important to talk to the people at the factory. What I've been thinking lately is that I used to take manufacturing in Japan for granted, but that's not the case at all. Of course, the cost goes up where the quality is high, but I think it's time for designers to spread the word about the process that clothes are produced through so that it won't be lost in the future”.

Yutaro Miyauchi

Born in 1989. After graduating from Bunka Fashion College’s evening course, he started Blanc in 2015 and changed the name to Blanc YM in 2016, having stockists both in Japan and abroad.