15 November 2017

SS18 Favourites: Undercover

Spring/Summer 2018

This was by far my favourite collection of the season.

Jun Takahashi had his eyes set on the future of youth culture with his Spring/Summer 2018 collection. But he was not thinking of next year, or a few years from now - instead, think band merch commemorating records released in 2075. It was a collection inspired by his own experiences and memories of 1980s Tokyo, where he was studying as a fashion student towards the tail end of that decade. However he also reached back even further with references to Masayuki Yamazaki’s Cream Soda clothing label.

Yamazaki founded the rock and roll Kaijin Niju Menso bar (named after the mysterious Fiend with Twenty Faces in Edogawa Ranpo's Kogoro Akechi series of novels) in the Shinjuku district in 1968. It was decorated with Yamazaki’s impression of a cool 1960s America, attracting bikers, rock kids, and even designers such as Kansai Yamamoto. In 1976 Yamazaki would go on to launch his Cream Soda label, inspired by 1950s American style, albeit as seen through the lens of London youth subcultures. So think of the Americana elements that were adopted by the Mods and Rockers at the time.

Jun then took these references as part of his imagined future, placing it alongside fictional band merchandise and punk styling, to imagine what kids of the future would wear. I appreciated the fact that there was German text (including some stylised to look like Arabic text), allowing for an interesting musical direction in his imagined future. What with street culture and youth culture being so popular right now, it was nice to see Jun show us just what is possible within that realm - looking to the future and being creative with the ideas and pieces, rather than adding to the instantly forgettable cookie cutter pieces we see so much of right now.

I thought that the casting and styling was on point, but then it is always interesting to see how Jun puts his collections together to create a “lived in” narrative, in that these look like organic outfits to me. I also find it interesting to see how he created fictional bands, working on music merchandising as an aesthetic component inherent to the style, and purely as a creative concept. Given that artifice and fantasy are a given in fashion, I always like it when designers come up with such a strong story and narrative to accompany their collections. Indeed for me the clothes really did feel like they would be fitting for a cyberpunk future. If that is what kids will be wearing several decades from now, I just hope I am around long enough to see it.


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