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Kei Ninomiya Reinvents Moncler's Down Outerwear

By Guan Tan

"How did I get into fashion? I don't remember exactly," a 34-year-old Kei Ninomiya once said in an interview. "Actually, I just like to make something, not necessarily fashion. I really like to make objects, nothing in particular."  

The Japanese designer was first schooled in French literature back in Tokyo's Aoyama Gakuin University before he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he gained a background in fashion. 

Ninomiya's career trajectory is well-documented — he went on to join Comme des Garcons as a pattern-cutter in November 2008, working under Rei Kawakubo herself. He was later singled out and launched a sibling brand, Noir Kei Ninomiya, under the CdG umbrella in October 2012. 

Come every season, Ninomiya rolls out a series of black, sculptural, and technically intriguing apparel. On the retail floors, these jackets, blouses and skirts look out of place. They command your attention and upon closer inspection, all their intricate, expressive details reveal themselves. "How did they make this? How are you supposed to wear this" are perhaps the most commonly asked questions. 

Newness underscores Ninomiya's work, and it has come to be what the designer is respected for. Every season he presents new ideas, new silhouettes, new ways of construction. "The point is to create forms no one has ever seen before," he said in 2015

So when Moncler, the Italian apparel manufacturer launched Moncler Genius, their experimental collaboration with eight notable designers, it was no surprise that Ninomiya was amongst the chosen ones. 

He took Moncler's signature nylon-encased down and washed them in black, quilted, knitted, inflated, deflated, ruffled, appliqued, panelled, and hooded them into a total of 15 looks.

"Moncler Genius is a challenge of innovation, and a progressive project in every respect. It allowed me the opportunity to develop new techniques of down," Ninomiya said in a statement. "Progress always stems from the way things are made."