Behind the scenes of Fendi’s accessories collaboration with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma

Crafted from washi paper and natural bamboo, the accessories – shown as part of Fendi’s recent menswear show – see Kengo Kuma turn his architectural eye to bags and sneakers

Fendi Kengo Kuma collection
Kengo Kuma works on his accessories collection for Fendi, shown as part of the house’s S/S 2024 menswear collection
(Image credit: Courtesy of Fendi)

As menswear month comes to a close, it is a chance to zoom into the finer details of the collections: like Fendi’s recent collaboration with pioneering Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, first presented as part of the house’s S/S 2024 men’s collection earlier this month. 

The show itself took place as part of Pitti Uomo 104, the latest edition of the Florentine menswear fair, which takes place each January and June. Attendees were transported to the recently inaugurated Fendi Factory, just outside the city in the Tuscan countryside, for a show that was an ode to craft and the atelier that creates the house’s handbags and leather goods in the location (the artisans continued to work, as the show’s backdrop, before joining accessories and menswear creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi for her bow).

Fendi unites with Kengo Kuma on new accessories

Fendi Kengo Kuma bag

(Image credit: Courtesy of Fendi)

Craft was also central to the collaboration with Kuma, who created versions of Fendi’s ‘Peekaboo’ bag, ‘Baguette Soft Trunk’ and ‘Flow’ sneakers. The various pieces reflect Kuma’s deep-rooted relationship with Japanese tradition and use of natural materials, a philosophy that has informed much of his work.

Here, the various accessories were made using materials that include ‘waranshi’, a version of Japanese washi paper made from cotton and tree-bark fibres that is traditionally used for origami and lantern making. Here, it lends the bags a natural, gently speckled effect, evocative of handmade paper. Another fabric is made using the practice of ‘yatara ami’ weaving, using bamboo strands for a woven lattice-like effect. The sneakers include an architectural sole designed for the project by Kuma.

Kengo Kuma Fendi shoes

(Image credit: Courtesy of Fendi)

‘I've always thought of Kengo Kuma as a master of naturalist architecture. He was one of the first to understand the importance of building nature into architecture both inside and out,’ explains Silvia Venturini Fendi of uniting with Kuma on the project, which is titled ’Fendi Kengo Kuma’. Fendi calls it a ‘new artistic dialogue between Italy and Japan’, suggesting a possible further chapter. 

‘I feel a sense of kinship with his Japanese approach to savoir-faire – I think it is a strong value shared between Japan and Italy,’ she continues. 

‘Nature and craft have always been at the centre of my work as an architect and a designer,’ adds Kuma. ‘When Fendi asked me to reflect on their bags and shoes, I thought of them like small architectural projects on a human scale.’

Kengo Kuma Fendi bag

(Image credit: Courtesy of Fendi)
Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.