Style & Design

Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo: Menswear brands give streetwear some long-overdue cred

by Smauel Thomas

Contributing Writer

Japan Times fashion contributors select eight menswear and unisex collections to look out for during Tokyo fashion week


DressedUndressed

Takeshi Kitazawa / Emiko Sato
北澤 武志 / 佐藤 絵美子
What began as a Tokyo unisex revolution on the catwalks from design duo Takeshi Kitazawa and Emiko Sato (see feature on previous page) has become a runway highlight for male streetwear aficionados. Packed with androgynous and feminine flourishes, this is the menswear uniform of the Tokyo creative class inspired by the forced bravado of certain streetwear. Taking aim this season at the pathos of trying to court attention with an “I’m Sexy”-themed collection, expect eroticism to be explored across playfully deconstructed menswear classics set against minimalist tailoring with the brand’s lauded pattern-cutting skills.

March 20, 11:00
Shibuya Hikarie


Jotaro Saito

Jotaro Saito
斉藤 上太郎
The last bastion of truly traditional Japanese fashion on the Tokyo fashion week schedule, Jotaro Saito’s runway shows are proof that the kimono is no national costume, but a living breathing part of the contemporary Japanese fashion lexicon. Presenting a mixed women’s and men’s catwalk, his swaggering male models rock the runway in unashamedly dandyish style, wearing designs that pass muster with conservative kimono critiques, as well as progressive designs in materials such as denim. We are promised a particularly edgy outing this season in a collection that is guaranteed to court those questioning the kimono’s place at fashion week.

March 21, 16:00
Shibuya Hikarie


Kidill

Hiroaki Sueyasu
末安 弘明
The stock of relative newcomer Kidill from Hiroaki Sueyasu is riding high after winning the 2017 Tokyo New Designer Fashion Grand Prix but isn’t quite ready to join the establishment just yet. Kidill’s 2018 autumn/winter collection will treat us to a love letter to U.K. punk band The Damned, featuring collaborations with esteemed subcultural photographer Sheila Rock, who documented the earliest years of punk and the scene that surrounded it. Reflecting on his own youth in the ’90s and the present Tokyo underground, the designer is on a recruitment drive for a new generation of rebellious souls.

March 21, 19:45
Space EDGE


Mistergentleman

Takeshi Osumi / Yuichi Yoshii
オオスミ タケシ / 吉井 雄一
Takeshi Osumi of Phenomenon fame and Yuichi Yoshii’s label Mistergentleman has a talent for presenting their collections with the air of the headline act and it is a confidence well-deserved, with their concept of “postmodern clothing” deconstructing staples and wardrobe basics each season and guaranteeing a show that challenges even the most experienced fashionista to rethink their wardrobe. There aren’t many brands that bring this level of reinvention to the runway season after season, and this collection will be no different, with a dose of incongruity breaking up the streetwear basics and color blocking.

March 23, 21:00
Shibuya Hikarie


Children of the discordance

Hideaki Shikama / 志鎌 英明
Another runway debut, and one used to sharing racks with the Bodysong. label — perhaps an allusion to a new menswear block forming, a unity we haven’t see at the week for quite some time. Hideaki Shikama’s collection likewise takes its calls from the music scene, in this case ’90s rap with an homage to New York rapper NAS’ album “Illmatic,” even taking the season’s key orange color from the aforementioned album cover itself. Drawing on decades of streetwear experience, this is also a conscientious collection, including fair-trade textiles produced in the last textile factory in the Palestinian territories, as well as from Mexico and the African continent.

March 24, 15:30
Shibuya Hikarie


Bodysong.

Undisclosed / 非公開
Anonymously designed Bodysong. graduates from the darkest depths of the Tokyo underground for its first ever fashion show — and in the main Hall A of the Shibuya Hikarie shopping and entertainment complex at that. Without a doubt the most hyped debut to the week in years, Bodysong.’s design approach, which makes jazz of the human body, is wrought with improvisation, graffiti and collage that feels like a literal remix of street fashion. Developed as a brand in a backdrop of the underground music scene and even going so far as to include speakers in garments themselves, expect to see a runway packed with subcultural samples.

March 24, 16:00
Shibuya Hikarie


Sise

Seishin Matsui / 松井 征心
As a brand whose output goes further than most in defining the what the average man on the streets of Tokyo wears, Sise from Seishi Matsui offers a crystal ball each season into what you are going to see represented in the city’s most fashionable locales in a few months’ time. Saying that, while the label’s overall look is so refined and styled in such a way that you might think you are people watching on the streets of Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood instead of being at a runway show, the label’s underlying boyishness and occasionally feminine flourishes present enough depth to transcend luxe casualwear and into something special.

March 24, 18:00
Invitation only


Soe

Soichiro Ito / Yuki Takagi
伊藤 壮一郎 / 髙木 佑基
A Tokyo fashion week veteran who first showed back in 2004, Soe now makes its long-awaited return to the week after showing in Paris in 2015. It is a homecoming in more ways than one, with much of the brand’s output even being made in the city that inspired it. Deftly rethinking and finding endless depth in Ivy League and heritage styles, designers Soichiro Ito and Yuki Takagi — the latter of whom joined the label in 2015 — have a knack for making the familiar seem distant. The label is presenting its work as an installation this season, and we might even see its vision extended to a women’s line.

March 24, 20:30
Shibuya Hikarie

* Many of the images featured above are from the spring/summer 2018 collection of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo