Style & Design

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo: Menswear looks for leadership

by Samuel Thomas

Special To The Japan Times

Christian Dada designer Masanori Morikawa’s departure from Tokyo to show at Paris Fashion Week this season created an opportunity for a new headline act to emerge from the sidelines and seize the reins at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo.

All eyes were on design house Mr.Gentleman from Takeshi Osumi and Yuichi Yoshii, the name behind the menswear-focused “Versus Tokyo” series of events on the final day of the official week. There were flashes of progressive design in the form of all-in-one jumpsuits made from splicing a T-shirt and shorts together, and the subdued tone of the authoritatively designed basics that dominated the collection gave way to a modest show that would have looked at home on the catwalks of Milan, not least due to the romantic photographic images of the Italian Riviera that stood out among the otherwise color-blocked restraint.

While lacking in bombastic presentation, yet accurately representing both the taste of the male attendees and enduring street level trends, remixed-vintage fashion shows proved popular among the home crowd. Yasuko Furata’s menswear label Toga Virilis deftly weaves Mexican and authentic ’90s streetwear design into a cohesive whole, which attracted keen crowds who were, in turn, rewarded with a performance from experimental rock outfit Dirty Beaches. In line with one of the most unexpected global trends to come out of the West Coast hip-hop world, Toga Virilis’ models wore high sports socks with sandals, perhaps turning one of style’s oldest faux pas into a Tokyo trend for next spring and summer. Along similar lines, Discovered from Tatsuya Kimura and Sanae Yoshida not only braved the middle-aged socks and sandals taboo, but also took their calls from the vintage fashion scene in Tokyo with a tightly edited mix of military styles rendered in heritage fabrics such as houndstooth.

Elsewhere, newcomer Noir FR from former fashion buyer Syota Masuda kept the week’s reputation for gender-neutral style in place. His black-heavy output joined regulars DressedUndressed in designing regardless of gender and, as ever, those in attendance showed that Tokyo is ready for male dresses, as well as chic designs for women who wish to buy an alternative to the ongoing preference for cute clothes on the city’s streets.

On reflection, it was Christian Dada’s ability to punctuate fashion week with anticipated talking points that was the biggest loss to the week: shows that you sit down for with little to no idea of what is set to emerge on to the runway, but with the sure knowledge that what you are about to witness will be quickly included in fashion legend. Following in this charismatic lineage is Yuima Nakazato, whose return to the week marks a year’s absence. Whereas his last appearance was safely enshrined in, and supported by, the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo organization, this time the WOMB nightclub in Shibuya’s gritty red-light district was his venue, with a show held pointedly just after the official week was over. The show itself offered a rather literal interpretation of the Tokyo concrete jungle: his cutting-edge textiles actually incorporated stone into their weave, while his 3-D printed masks made a sociological comment on the difficulty facing Tokyo’s youth of maintaining one’s identity, a point that doubtlessly resonated throughout the room. Not every look may progress to be worn by the public, but the show represented the kind of bravery and charisma that the fashion week system is sorely missing.