The invitation for Junya Watanabe’s show depicted a child dressed in a makeshift tinfoil outfit suggesting infantile insinuations for his new winter narrative.
But when the Eastern European music sound track kicked in, Watanabe’s indicators became clear – the collection explored the idea of Eastern European immigrants who, over a century ago, arrived at Ellis Island with their patched suits and practical wares, all searching for a new and better life.
Watanabe’s fascination with hard work and hardship is a well-trodden track by the designer, and previous seasons have seen him approach the notions of labour and elevating the under-dog. Watanabe’s models sported felt bowler hats, some even had pencil moustaches, and all demonstrated a sense of modesty and gentle humanity – something that has become intrinsic to Watanabe’s vision.
Deconstructed and disheveled suits, big overcoats and numerous incarnations of signature patchwork ensured the clothes were nostalgic and stitched with history. The shrunken fit of jackets and cropped denims suggested the clothes had been carefully recycled by the wearers, whose uniforms were symbol of their humanity.
Watanabe’s fascination with creating practical clothing for his customer continues and this time round it had a strong narrative. What Watanabe’s collections lack in innovation they gain in the designer’s attention to detail and craft of textures, colour and structure. Watanabe’s designs are distinct and his menswear language is wholly confident and focused on utility – something that shouldn't be negated in contemporary menswear.