He returned just as quietly as he departed. Ganryu Fumito’s come-back to the men’s fashion week season is bereft of bang, but the discreet debut under his full name at the Pitti Immagine Uomo a few days back was anything but muted. The inspiration for his show, as reported, was water, and while this collection may not make waves, it certainly would send ripples down the right direction. First-hand reports so far barely contained the excited reactions.
The welcome return is understandable. Mr Fumito is considered a rare breed among those designers who are adept at melting the finest of sportswear, streetwear, and work wear, a Haroumi Hosono of fashion, if you will. His departure from his previous employer Comme des Garçons last year was not officially announced until a Canadian e-tailer broke the news online. The reveal was met with disappointment by fans, including many of us at SOTD, who had not expected such a pull-out, considering how respected Mr Fumito is. His back-to-the-fold of immensely captivating men’s wear labels is particularly significant in view of the many new appointees at major brands that will debut this month.
That the collection premiered at the Pitti Immagine Uomo is significant. The Florentine fair is known to launch the careers of designers who take a different, more audacious sartorial path, such as Thom Browne and Kolor’s Junichi Abe. Mr Fumito’s collection is bound to capture the attention of the world’s stockists and media. And it should. Not short of his usual inventiveness, the clothes are, however, relieved of any CDG imprint—none of the patchwork, none of the patterns, none of the surface extras associated with CDG made their appearance. Instead, Mr Fumito turned to what could be religious garb to show that he’s starting from a conscientiously clean sheet. The first look, a hooded robe, in all its monastic starkness, led us to think of Benedictine monks. But the robe, in neoprene, had a more sportif quality that was more post-game than ecclesiastical, more Gary Numan (Berserker?) than Gregorian chant.
This is not to say Mr Fumito has turned to the strictly pared-down or even rejected the secular. In fact, it appeared that he has not turned his gaze away from the street—not Paris, more Tokyo, not Gosha Rubchinskiy’s Muscovite skate headiness, more Y3’s soft, alt-sport kei. Evidently, he is not too high-minded to allow basic T-shirts to take to the catwalk—not those with crazy appendages. If you look closely, you’d spot familiar articles of clothing too, those pieces that are the staples of streetwear and those outers (yes, hoodies for the ’hood) that accompany you to the cinema. An elevation of a certain Life Wear? These are clothes not necessarily for the conventional office, but certainly for those who share start-up spaces or those who occupy professional environments not dictated by the shirt and smart trousers.
There’s no denying that the presentation relied heavily on styling tricks: extra clothing strapped on the body as one would with a backpack or messenger bag, layering that seemed unrelated to weather conditions, and outdoorsy mixes that were evocative of perhaps a decidedly urban The North Face (a domain of Nanamica’s Eiichiro Homma). And therein lies the charm and the assurance that Mr Fumito, like his one-time design head Junya Watanabe, does not have to rely on the far-out to make a strong statement. Indeed, take the ensembles apart and you have those clothes that won’t be step siblings in your wardrobe.
Mr Fumito also proved that street style can have a voice that need not be traced to a particular store on New York’s Lafayette Street or the din that is blaring from America’s hip-hop community whose fashion stars are enjoying worldwide attention, or lured to popular Parisian houses. Street style, in fact, need not be the souped-up treatment of what has been considered street since the ’80s, since Fame. It need not have to have a US worldview; it could be better, infinitely better.
Photo: (top) Pitti Immagine Uomo, (others) vogue.com