7 August 2010

Nautical Details

Junya Watanabe
Spring 2011

It is no secret that the nautical life has served as a continual source of inspiration for fashion and style, from Breton stripe t-shirts in the Summer to thick fisherman's knitwear in the Winter. It is the evocation of the romantic nature of the sea and all the symbolism contained therein - the chance for freedom, new beginnings and yet somehow a comfortably old friend.

However it has also been the more functional side of clothing required to brave a life at sea that has captured the imagination of designers over the years. From warm knitwear to keep the cold at bay to a hard wearing waxed rain jacket that keeps one dry, functionality is inherent to clothing design, let alone fashion design. Clothing serves the primary function of keeping the body warm and safe from the elements, and without that it becomes relatively unwearable in any practical day-to-day situation.

The nautical trend (magazines do love that term) pops up in a more than expected manner time and time again. Indeed so much so that it is hardly worth calling the style a trend, but rather an independent aesthetic. A trend tends not to have the flexibility and scope for continual innovation that an aesthetic is granted, and yet with such a traditional aesthetic, it is perhaps the more traditional and classic elements that matter the most. Without those visual signifiers the aesthetic is lost into the haze of generality, which risks losing the very idea behind the inspiration.

There are three signifiers, if I may use that term, of the nautical aesthetic that have always captured my imagination in relation to the detailing of outerwear. Those details are wooden buttons, white buttons and toggle buttons. Indeed I have a bit of a fascination with buttons - I tend to replace the buttons on my clothes for something a little more fun. I actually have a washed navy blue cotton double breasted blazer that I am thinking of changing the buttons on. I am trying to weigh up between plain wood or painted white wooden buttons (...although to be honest I would not mind a painted pink and white polka dot wooden button).

For me there is something inherently nautical about a white or toggle button on outerwear and even were an outfit to be styled in complete antithesis to the nautical aesthetic, those details would inevitably bring my thoughts back to the nautical. Indeed the opening tailored looks of the Spring 2011 collection by Junya Watanabe featured white buttons that immediately framed my mind in anticipation for some nautical inspired looks. And boy did he deliver.

I found the trousers in this look quite interesting, especially in terms of their cut. Designers have been keen to show rather fitted cropped trousers as of late, perhaps in the light of Thom Browne, however I am more interested in a wider cut cropped trouser. I liked how the wider shape was so solidly from the hips down, as opposed to being heavy around the front or in the inside leg (plus I really want some striped trousers). The silhouette of the look was in the whole somewhat boxy, as one would expect from Watanabe. (I think this model may have really taken the nautical inspiration to heart, he looks mighty seasick).

I love the pop that the white buttons provided for this pea coat (well, perhaps technically a reefer with white buttons given the epaulets), as well as the layering of the white and blue, and red and blue striped t-shirts. I think the look worked particularly well against the shoes, with the white leather and redbrick soles. Indeed an often overlooked part of most collections, I really liked the shoes in the collection (although I may be biased from my love of the Junya Watanabe x Trickers collaborations in general).

I am actually on the hunt for a good duffle coat for this Winter and I particularly liked the cut of the Junya offering. Whilst the coat had all the traditional detailing one would expect, it was cut far slimmer and somewhat shorter than the standard affair, which I really enjoyed.

Admittedly when I have been thinking of buying a duffle coat my mind has conjured up images of Paddington Bear and Jonathan Creek as opposed to high fashion collections, but that is neither here nor there, inspiration strikes from all different directions. In my case childhood memories, curled up in front of the television during the dark evenings of Winter after a hot bath and dinner. Indeed even though this was a Spring collection, it serves for me more as an inspiration for the upcoming Autumn.

Currently playing: Gasp - Japanese Cartoon



  1. I'm not a huge fan of the short pant but I do like those blazers. :)

  2. Excellent post and a great collection. I am especially a fan of a nautical theme in menswear.

  3. Very interesting trousers. I loved your commentary on this.

  4. Makes me think of something someone from Ugly Betty would have worn..in that first shot. Very unique collection.

  5. White trouser/pants always make a good impression on me...


  6. Love the clothes

  7. Reminds me of sg. pepper
    Check out my blog @ tuxandtie.blogspot.com
    Follow me on twitter @ tuxandtie

  8. Love nautical details!!
    As per usual great article so well written.

    Hope you're having a nice weekend

  9. I absolutely love nautical detailing - your commentary makes me appreciate it all a lot more :) You have a fabulous insight, dear! When I read your blog I find that I'm learning more about mens fashion - something that I sometimes skip over!

  10. Every season he breaks my heart a little more. Definitely my favourite designer that I will never afford.