There are two buzzwords this season. One is 'normal', the other is 'collaboration'. On the former, it’s intriguing to hear designers wax lyrical about the normality of their designs backstage after their shows - surely the point of high fashion is that the pieces are rare, elevated, and thus abnormal. On the latter, collaboration, a sense of normality is also key. The new trend in fashion hook-ups is between high and low, niche and accessible. That’s why every designer worth their salt is falling over themselves to work with a Fila, or a Kappa, or a Reebok type brand. These hook-ups help give designer clothes the veneer of authenticity while creating a highly exclusive product which speaks to a younger consumer who’s far more seduced by 'limited edition' than luxury fabrications or make. That’s why everything looks so standard, so conventional - a thriving consumer group today doesn’t care about things looking special, they want things that become special because of the rarity that occurs when branding is placed on a very limited number of products. A t-shirt isn’t just a t-shirt if it’s one of 50 that celebrate a collaboration between two hot brands.
All of these themes and developments are highly relevant to Junya Watanabe’s S/S 18 show. The Japanese designer’s collaboration with Carhartt was the opening story of the collection. Later, his unions with North Face and Levi’s were prominent. Workwear was the story - beige, camel, brown workwear. Some pieces even came splattered with paint, as if the wearer had just torn himself away from his studio. Think back to just a few years ago and Watanabe was offering conceptual, punk-inspired wares. He sure knows how to move with the times. Some jackets came with bag handles stitched to the back, ready to be grabbed by eager consumers.