The Wordiest Logo?

Or do you prefer less?

TNF Junya logo

It’s a collaboration that spawned one of the biggest logos we have ever seen, with an unusually large amount of text. There are a total of nine words, 14 syllables, and 43 letters! And both brands seem like a match that has to be made: their logotype is in still-a-fave Helvetica!

It is, of course, a mouthful to say. There’s a reason WeAretheSuperlativeConspiracy—just just five words but chock-full of 24 letters—is known as WESC, making the one-time lengthy Fruit of the Loom, with a now-modest line-up of 14 letters, a breeze to say. But The North Face Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons Man isn’t, thankfully, quite a tongue-twister even when boasting three languages. That is unless you have a dreadful relationship with French pronunciation.

In fact, the coming together of the two brands (since we’re counting, three, if you consider CDG in there as a separate entity) is missing the typical X, as in the upcoming Erdem X H&M (designer Erdem Moralıoğlu’s full name may, indeed, be the tongue-twister here), which means Junya Watanabe’s collaborative work for autumn/winter 2017 would otherwise have 44 letters. But who’s counting? Okay, we are.

TNF Sacai

On the other extreme is Sacai, a brand that, interestingly, also collaborated with The North Face for the autumn/winter 2017 collection. But the logo is so succinct that you may miss the Japanese name. Comprising just four words and a grand total of 17 letters, The North Face Sacai is almost minimalistic. Similar to Junya Watanabe’s, it is absent an X. Perhaps it’s a Japanese quirk. Whether long or short, are we getting more or less with the respective brands?

With these Japanese burando, especially these whose designers are alumni of the school of Comme des Garçons (Sacai’s Chitose Abe was, in fact, a member of Junyta Watanabe’s pattern-making team before she struck out on her own), you are not likely to get less. Sacai’s collection dubbed “Cut Up”, does not spare any design their distinctive slicing and splicing, which means less is not part of their DNA. In addition, their collaboration is available for women as well.

In the end, a label with many words may look intriguing and, hence, alluring, but it really isn’t a matter of which. We say, why have one when you can have both?

It isn’t certain if Junya Watanabe and Sacai stockist Club 21 will bring the two brand’s collaboration with The North Face. We suspect the soon-to-open Dover Street Market Singapore will carry both capsules. Watch this space for updates. Images: the respective brands

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Girls Gone Good

Good Girls G1Good girls wear long(er) skirts: (from left) Junya Watanabe, Kolor, Comme des Garcons Comme des Garcons

Given how much the posterior pervaded our lives last year, it is a relief that this autumn/winter season, quite a few designers are short on the skimpy. It is not sufficiently clear if it is a Kim K backlash, but it is possible that once the backside appears on the front side of a magazine (see Paper, winter 2014), modesty could be very much missed. Are we then seeing a return to clothes that, well, serve to clothe?

This season, the Japanese designers are leading the way, although it is pertinent to acknowledge that they have never left the path. Junya Watanabe, Junichi Abe of Kolor, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons—to these purveyors of dress, clothes can be sexy, even a substantial amount of clothes, not the lack of them. The Japanese clearly love cloth, and are adept at manipulating a piece of fabric to cover the body in often unexpected ways. Despite the baffling construction that is worked into a dress, the result is mostly practical silhouettes that can be adapted for the everyday.

We’re partial to the wide, knee-grazing skirts that appeared on the catwalk of the above-mentioned designers. With the continued popularity of severely cut off denim jeans and micro-anything, these skirts could be considered prissy, or, worse, a reminder of the (supposedly) sexually-repressed Victorians. Yet, there’s something elegant, refined, and uninhibited about their shape and length that could provide emancipation from the pressures of expressing sexuality through scantiness. The relationship sexiness has with bare skin can be redefined through the skirt.

The fact that the Japanese’s stay on the side of modesty draws no attention attests to the insidiousness of barely-there dressing. The Italians, however, have always had a sophisticated view. In the Baz Luhrmann-directed video for the Metropolitan Museum’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition, Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations, Muccia Prada said, “Instinctively, I refuse the usual conviction that you have to be beautiful from the waist up… so many things are happening from the waist down…” Yet, Ms Prada has never played up the role of the skirt by drastically reducing its length or deliberately minimising its opacity. The Prada skirts, 100 of them so magnificently displayed at the 2004 travelling exhibition Waist Down, validate the old belief that short is not always sexy.

It would also take Gucci to push forward the idea of prim-as-desirable. Designer Alessandro Michele (before his appointment last year, a relative unknown) has been lauded for making the brand “cool again”. It is odd—but, perhaps, a relief for the show-no-ass lass—that it would take new Gucci’s geeky looks rather than the entrenched sexy-to-the-max aesthetic, first delineated by Tom Ford, to revive the house. Whether looking like a librarian or school teacher, perhaps, in the end, women just want clothes that allow them to get on with their lives, rather than be too sexy for their skirt.

Dots: How Big Will They Get?

SS 2015 Dots G1Spring/Summer 2015 dots. From left: Kenzo Men, Marc by Mark Jacobs, Junya Watanabe, and Dolce & Gabbana

Not since George Clooney’s appearance on the cover of W in December 2013 as Polka Dot Man (well, not quite DC Comic’s supervillian) has polka dots been headline fashion news. How did things get so dotty is a little beyond our comprehension, but we think it has a lot to do with today’s weak preference for plain fabrics in solid colours. Of late, the fashion-consuming public seems to be enamoured of patterns, from floral to abstract shapes. We’re tempted to blame Givenchy’s Ricardo Tisci for it: thanks to him, stars (especially those that encircle the neckline) have led the way, peppering garments with repeated geometric shapes in the same vehemence once reserved for vintage illustrations.

The current fate of polka dots is sealed when Pharrell Williams introduced them to the Stan Smith, which, sadly, has lost much of its humbler looks since the pop singer re-styled the classic tennis shoe into sneakers that seem destined for the streets of Legoland. This is, to us, ironic as the Stan Smith’s appeal is in its inherent plain simplicity. Hipsters took to them as a stand against the over-designed excesses of designer kicks. Mr Williams’s initial dalliance with the Stan Smith saw him working bright colors into the shoe. Then he had them covered with micro-dots before spotting the current ones with those the size of doll-house saucers.

SS 2015 Dots G2Clockwise from top left: Kenzo Nylon backpack, Pharrell Williams X adidas Originals Stan Smith, Hellolulu Ottilie backpack, Fred Perry Mini Classic Bag, Nike Roshe Run NM “City Pack” QS “NYC” and Comme des Garçons leather zip-top case

To us, polka dots are evocative of Mini Mouse’s dress and, inevitably, the oversized bow on her hair: clearly a cartoon celebrity in need of Smurfette’s stylist! They, too, remind us of Comme des Garçons, a label that has made repeated dots attractively modern. In all sizes (big, apparently, is better),  they have been very much a part of the CDG graphic arsenal, and they appear in almost everything, such as those Croc-like slip-ons in collaboration with Native Shoes back in 2013 as well as those season-less Play cardigans worn by stars such as Justin Timberlake. That’s why, to us, Pharrel William’s new iteration for adidas Original’s Stan Smith (above, top right) is nothing new (the dots are embroidered on the leather upper, an idea first seen in Dior Homme shoes last season). It is really not beyond the ken of the average fashion follower that he took a page from the CDG playbook (perhaps to score extra points so that those shoes can be carried in Dover Street Market) rather than dream the pattern up.

IT Beijing MarketPolka dots are to CDG what rectangles are to Mondrian. In fact, CDG loves them so much that black-filled circles, sometimes way larger than dinner plates, are used in their visual merchandising or as decorative motif for shop fronts or building facades. In 2010, when I.T Beijing Market (left), an offshoot of the brand’s retail business Dover Street Market, opened in Sanlitun of the Chinese capital, the blockish building’s façade was half-covered with oversized dots. In a neighborhood of ultra-sleek luxury brands such as the Euro-chic Miu Miu next door, I.T Beijing Market stood like a defiant upstart, striking as it is cheeky—a Damien Hirst in a sea of unadorned glass and severe concrete.

The thing about polka dots these days is that they have become rather gender-neutral. When once mostly women embrace them (the odd bow tie favoured by a few fellows did not mean they were popular with guys), today they are not conspicuously absent from men’s wear. Even blokes’ label Fred Perry has embraced them, introducing polka dots—noticeably large—with such regularity that they have become as recognisable as the brand’s laurel wreath (interestingly nearly as circular as a dot). Has the repeated dot then clearly become a sign of change for men’s attitude towards patterns? We’re not sure it’s clear enough.

Prints For Your Back

Backpacks SS 2014Are backpacks this season’s clutch? It appears to be if you look at what some designers are churning out. Now that a sheath of a bag offers a capacity not quite adequate for what you may need to get through a day, the rucksack’s new prominence is very much welcomed. But, it should be noted that these are nothing like those you remember from way back: school. Not since Prada’s nylon knapsack and Gucci’s leather version with bamboo handles has the humble backpack been so truly back. And this time, they have prints on their side, charming or not!

Loewe X Junya Watanabe

Loewe AmazonaBack in March, during the Paris season, Junya Watanabe showed some bags he designed with the Spanish house of Loewe. Not really known for his accessories, Mr Watanabe put out a biker/punk-leaning collection that overshadowed the somewhat lady-like bags, which were soon a fading blimp on the fashion radar. Fast forward six months, the bags can soon be seen (and had) at the Loewe boutique, where they have been concealed until the launch this coming Monday.

Mr Watanabe is not new to collaborations. He’s one of the earliest designers to align himself with established brands to re-imagine some of their iconic designs. These included Levis’s 501 jeans as well as the Lacoste polo. He has a penchant for work wear, teaming up with such unlikely brand as Laboureur and Duvetica, turning what is traditional to these labels into forms quite unexpected, yet not entirely stripped of their original identity.

With Loewe, Mr Watanabe has taken the signature bag Amazona and given it the patchwork treatment he is known for. Since the “African Collection” of S/S 2009, he has intermittently showed clothing of deconstructed denim with some kind of patchwork, revealing himself to be adept at updating a hippie style without traipsing into parody. Unfortunately for Mr Watanabe, this treatment has been popularised by many other brands, and turned into such indiscriminate hotchpotch (and available at street-level price points) that patchwork now has a rather patchy reputation.

This Amazona will be coveted, but will it be snapped up in a feeding frenzy? We’ll know soon.

The Loewe + Junya Watanabe Amazona denim patchwork bag (from SGD3,590) will be available at the Loewe boutique at Takashimaya S C from Monday

Photo: Loewe