Japanese fashion designers have stepped out boldly into the international limelight, showing their acute sense of aesthetics around the world. One of the country’s young fashion designers who has clearly toppled the barrier between traditional and modern, conventional and daring, as well as real and imaginary is Kunihiko Morinaga. His brand Anrealage (stylized as ANREALAGE), launched in 2003, instantly created a buzz in the fashion world when he presented his first collection at Tokyo Fashion Week in 2005. That same year, Morinaga received the Design Vision Award For Avant Garde at Gen Art.

Kunihiko Morinaga © Yoshimori Shinnosuke

Kunihiko Morinaga. Photo: ©Yoshimori Shinnosuke

In 2014, he presented his first Paris Fashion Week collection. Since then, he’s been a regular attendee at the prestigious event. In 2015, he was selected as a finalist for the ANDAM Fashion Award and in 2019 for the LVMH Prize, the same year he won the 37th Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix. For Milan Fashion Week 2020, he collaborated with Fendi from Italy. He also designed the official uniform for the attendants of the Japan Pavillion at World Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Real or Unreal Age of Anrealage

So, what makes Anrealage irresistibly intriguing? The brand’s revolutionary approach to apparel ideology has crossed beyond analog and digital platforms never seen before on the runway. The words “real,” “unreal” and “age” coin together the name Anrealage. It signifies the desire to design “real” clothing for daily wear and utilize unlimited dimensions and unique elements, namely handcrafted work, conceptual shapes and innovative technology. All these features abide by the brand’s mantra of “God is in the details” as proven by the ultimate attention to fabrics, patterns, buttons, fastenings and tags, as well as the interior of the stores.

“I tried making the parts more detailed — the smaller and smaller they became, I found my own ground ‘in details’ that is not easily achievable, that I wanted to pursue entirely. And this is the origin of my brand,” Morinaga stated in a previous interview.

Anrealage 2021 Spring/Summer Collection Home

Anrealage 2021 Spring and Summer Collection Home

Examples of the brand’s ingeniously handcrafted work were the first seven seasons from the 2005-2006 Autumn and Winter Suzume No Namida Collection to the 2008-2009 Autumn and Winter Mutyu Collection. Morinaga envisioned patterns to decorate kimono outfits made by layered antique dresses, pressed flower suits composed of pressed flowers bonded to tweed with vinyl chloride and over 200 kinds of old Japanese toy beads on the coats.

Anrealage is best known for the interplay of geometric shapes. Garment forms such as spheres, triangular pyramids and cubes as prototypes stuck together were highlighted from the 2009 Spring and Summer Collection (ball, pyramid, cube) to the 2011 Spring and Summer Air Collection. The buttons were also deformed at right angles and elbow shapes contoured to match the shape of the triangular pyramids. For the 2021 Spring and Summer Collection Home, clothes were shaped into spherical polyhedra, from tetrahedra to icosahedra and functioned as movable houses.

Anrealage 2022 Spring and Summer Collection Dimension. Photo ©Masaya Tanaka

Anrealage 2022-2023

The 2022 Spring and Summer Collection Dimension reveals Anrealage’s most mesmerizing digital showcase yet, embodying cutting-edge technology. At the collection show, the garments appear in a virtual space between 2D and 3D, with CG avatar models walking on a glass runway and floating in the air. Patchwork is seen on a flat surface and changes to 3D modeling and connects different surfaces and layers. Curved floral patterns also transform into straight flower motifs made of polygons.

In the 2022-2023 Autumn and Winter Collection Planet, the apparel line puts a surrealistic spin on astronauts’ space suits symbolizing peace-seeking earthlings. The white and puffy attires are filled with air, protecting the body. They appear to hop across the lunar surface. Special high-tech Aerogel materials originally developed by NASA, which were used in JAXA’s spacesuits, are sandwiched between quilted cotton and polyester blends on baby-doll dresses and coats, or inserted into the inflated volumes of jumpsuits, MA-1 bombers and varsity jackets. Designed to insulate against extreme temperatures, the ultra-lightweight material can protect against the cold down to minus 196 degrees Celsius.

“I continue to believe in a dreamlike world where living in space becomes the norm. Everyday life on the Moon will be a future reality,” says Morinaga.

Anrealage 2022-2023 Autumn and Winter Collection Planet ©Masaya Tanaka

A Bit of Mystery

Anrealage bursts with a mystery that Morinaga fondly dubs “sukoshi fushigi” (a bit mysterious). One immediately senses the element of surprise marked by strikingly unusual or bizarre “wide, short, slim and long” silhouettes. By injecting new uses of technology, rather than new technology itself, Morinaga is able to discover the essential value in adding something creative to everyday situations where garments are worn.

“I’ve always considered how we go on unaware of the unrealistic, unordinary matters in our realistic daily lives. They can be extremely small, like a button or a piece of unwanted fabric and are often called ‘detailed’ things. I believe in creating these unrealistic matters through fashion. And there exists the very nature of quality we pursue,” Morinaga says.


Featured and top image: Anrealage 2022 Spring/Summer Collection Dimension.