There is a reason Rei Kawakubo and husband Adrian Joffe’s fashion empire is referred to as the Comme des Garçons universe. Vast, ever-expanding and immensely complex—much like our own universe—it may very well take a PhD to fully master the minutiae of the Comme empire and the myriad brands that fall under Kawakubo and Joffe’s creative umbrella.
There are the various sub-brands, other designers’ eponymous labels funded by Comme des Garçons, retail projects, defunct lines and, of course, collaborative endeavours. Where does one start when considering Comme des Garçons and all it entails? After all, there is no other brand that can lay claim to the absolute breadth of offering that Comme can—from simple T-shirts to abstract and intricate works of performance art.
It was always expected that Abloh would reference culture in his work at Vuitton. That is what we claimed his cachet was when we discussed his appointment: his ability to tap into the cultural zeitgeist and translate it to clothing. Rather than appropriating and playing with the brand’s iconic logo and monogram—which is something that many thought he would excel at—Abloh set it aside. The cultural references came instead from the production and details composing the show: It starts with the music selection, directed by Benji B, a friend and collaborator; continues on to the diverse cast of models (finally!!); the appearance of the likes of Kid Cudi and Dev Hynes moonlighting as models; the eclectic and star-studded front row; using a radio show recorded in his Louis Vuitton office to tease the upcoming runway show.
For as long as I can remember, I have started each day virtually the same way: I put underwear on first, then pants, followed by a shirt, a sweater, and, last, socks. The only time I strayed from that routine was when I would wear a suit, in which case the shirt would come second—easier to tuck into the pants! And really, I never thought about the order in which I got dressed. Not once.
That is until a few weeks ago, when it struck me that most of the men in the locker room at the gym I go to were putting their socks on second, right after their underwear. A few of them were even putting them on first. I was shocked! Had I been getting dressed the wrong way my whole life? I tried to comfort myself: maybe it was because they were wearing suits and mid-calf socks, which are hard to pull on after you’ve put on pants. But why not put the socks on after a shirt? And why in the world were some guys putting them on before anything else?!
“The Tabi boot is the most important footprint of my career: it’s recognisable, it still goes on after 25 years, and it has never been copied.” Arguably the most famous quote from the reclusive Martin Margiela, his high-regard for the infamous Tabi speaks volumes—especially when considering his immense archive and enduring influence. When the split-toed footwear debuted during Margiela’s inaugural Spring/Summer 1989 runway show, the clove toed shoe shocked the fashion world to its core. Yet, season after season, the silhouette returned and despite reservations continued to sell.
One of the driving forces behind the category’s growth has been the interplay between art and pop culture. In both 2010 and 2018, Medicom Toy collaborated with SpongeBob SquarePants and, since 2016, KAWS has worked with Uniqlo, Peanuts and Sesame Street. Such collaborations draw attention to the category as a whole. “The entry level customer getting into Be@rbricks might not know who an artist is, but they know pop culture stuff,” explains Tsang. A Peanuts toy may eventually lead them to discover a Keith Haring one and, eventually, the artist’s other work.
Arguably, though, art toys offer more than a springboard into the art world. When KAWS was approached by the Japanese brand Bounty Hunter in the late ‘90s, he saw the opportunity to turn one of his fantastical characters into a toy as a chance to dabble in a medium he felt was otherwise unavailable to him.
The United States enjoys a special relationship with the United Kingdom that extends to politics, economics, military alliances and, yes, culture. To the untrained eye that relationship extends to clothing, and in a very broad sense, that’s true. Similar brands are worn in both countries and the style codes are virtually the same: Suits are office-appropriate attire, T-shirts and jeans are casual, etc. Yet, that relationship is in fact not so clean cut. British and American tailoring are inherently different from one another, as are streetwear and sneaker cultures in each country. As it stands, each country’s influence on the other is relatively limited. In menswear—and fashion at large, really—the special relationship is instead the one between American and Japan.
In the last five years or so, has anybody moved the cultural needle more than Kanye West? There is certainly no denying his tremendous influence. In recent weeks, however, it has become increasingly apparent that Kanye’s influence is not necessarily assured—in fact, it appears to be rather precarious at the moment. That begs the question: What would a post-Yeezy world look like?
No silhouette is more emblematic of menswear’s gradual acceptance of the sneaker than the German Army Trainer, a model which has long been a staple in the rotations of those in the know. It is a shoe with history and one which sparks contentious debate about both its origins and the purest reincarnation of a decades-old classic. The GAT, as it is colloquially known, may be best known in fashion circles as one of Maison Margiela’s best-known replica designs—the Margiela version is literally called the Replica—but the silhouette’s roots extend back to the 1970s, long before the Belgian designer was parading sneakers down runways.
Sometimes, by digging in our heels and shouting, we galvanize those who are open to discussion. It’s a vicious cycle where everything becomes polarized and exaggerated and we surround ourselves with what we want to hear.
Eventually we’ll get tired of shouting and we’ll be curious about what the other side has to say — regardless of which ever side you find yourself on. We’ll stop rewarding sensationalized information designed to reinforce our beliefs or spark outrage, and we’ll welcome people who champion balanced dialogue and discourse. But things being what they are these days, some might consider that idea to be extreme, and vehemently oppose it.
Perhaps Nike’s strategy of bringing cool to tennis has run its course and the sport is cool enough on its own for a country club-esque aesthetic to take root in streetwear and fashion. It’s not hard to imagine that as a sort of younger and more luxurious normcore. adidas and Palace are likely to resist the sport in upcoming seasons, at least if the brands’ soccer-centric partnership is any indication. Uniqlo will be banking on tennis for the next decade too—as the Federer news is indicating. Other brands, like Lacoste, Fred Perry, Ellesse, Diadora and Sergio Tacchini—which all enjoyed nice boosts with the soccer and terrace wear craze of the last 18 months—will surely be looking to capitalize on two heavy-hitters putting tennis at the fore.
Most days, I’ve watched from Café Olimpico, a bastion of soccer, yes, but also of diversity, with people from all walks of life stopping in to cheer on their native countries or the teams they’ve adopted. I’ve watched games with an young Iranian man who recently came to Canada, a Colombian family, Peruvian Canadians, a Mauritian Canadian and countless others.
It’s a long-term game, really; but it’s also a confident bet on the inherent appeal of Quebec and its workforce. The underlying message is that if we facilitate things for startups, innovators will love it here. They’ll actually want to learn French, rather than feel as though it’s something they’re being forced to do. As everybody knows, motivated students tend to do best.
In 2008, Jones was appointed creative director of Dunhill and folded his eponymous line to fully focus on the British luxury goods brand. His tenure at Dunhill lasted only three years. In 2011, then-creative director at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, named Jones style director of the French house’s ready-to-wear menswear line. Since taking over the reigns from Paul Helbers, Jones has enchanted fashion insiders and casual observers alike, earning critical acclaim (including a a bevy of awards) and transforming Louis Vuitton into a conversation-driver in the menswear realm beyond just its leather goods. Jones’ collections at Louis Vuitton have shared some commonalities—travel, for one—but have been tremendously influential in their use of casual streetwear elements to inform a contemporary luxury aesthetic.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new Italian Renaissance. For a few years now, Milan’s menswear Fashion Week has devolved into a relative afterthought, with well-established brands like Prada, Fendi, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana drawing crowds seemingly out of habit rather than out of genuine interest. Since being handed over to Alessandro Michele, Gucci has been the outlier among the revered Italian brands, with a timely aesthetic shift and revamped marketing geared towards the conversation-steering millennial consumer. This past week, however, brought about a wind of change for more Italian brands who have—in their own ways—embraced the new face of luxury.
If you hadn’t heard of Nike’s Humara silhouette until word started leaking out that Supreme would be using the model for its newest collaboration, that’s perfectly normal. While the Air Humara—and its successor the Terra Humara—are well known among diehard ACG fans, the silhouette had been largely relegated to the proverbial back-burner, making an appearance every few years in a new color that wasn’t always guaranteed to make it to market. If the model were to have been originally released in 2017, the names associated with the shoe would virtually guarantee an instant hit, but, in a testament to how much has changed in 20 years, the shoe almost didn’t make it to the shelves back in 1998.
We’ll make a brash claim: the most important shoe of all-time is 35 years old, hasn’t changed much over the last three-plus decades, and is best known for it’s monochromatic white and black colorways. It’s a shoe that spawned a technological revolution in the ‘80s, a cultural one in the ‘90s and the concept of “retros.” It rose to international prominence in the 2000s, and has become a fashion flashpoint in the last few years. After more than 2000 iterations, and standing as one of the best-selling athletic shoe of all time, the Air Force 1 is undeniably an icon. But what makes it so special?
If you visit Japan, particularly retail-rich Tokyo, chances are you’ll stumble upon a brand that you’ve previously never heard of. That’s true for fashion aficionados, for their less fashionable parents and even for those who are paid nice salaries to work in the industry. It makes sense that Japan would be such fertile ground for such obscure brands. A massive population confined to a small geographic area has birthed a generation of competing brands in close proximity to one another that struggle to differentiate themselves from the pack and rise to prominence. That being said, with such a large population, do the brands really need to export themselves beyond Japan’s borders? At the same time, European and North American infatuation—at times bordering on fetishism—with lesser-known Japanese brands has encouraged said brands to shroud themselves in mystery, intentionally shying away from press coverage. One brand that has garnered less attention than some of its peers, despite being considered among the nation’s most influential, is Sasquatchfabrix.
The annals of fashion and streetwear are lined with some impressive names, from the Coco Chanels and Yves Saint-Laurent of years past, to the James Jebbias and Virgil Ablohs of today. That being said, few individuals have had the same impact on the way people dress as Pharrell Williams. From the early-2000s until today, Pharrell has had a tangible effect not only on the clothes that we wear, but on how we wear them. What makes Pharrell so unique is the fact that he has impacted not only streetwear —something not uncommon for producers and rappers— but also fashion, and, one could argue, design in general.