Mood board: A subtle theme during the S/S 2018 menswear shows has been the elevation of ‘normal’, perhaps best exemplified by Demna Gvasalia’s interpretation of ‘dad dressing’ at Balenciaga. Its muse is a suburban father on the office-to-school run. So what is the archetypal man’s wardrobe? Is it the sprezzatura and preening seen at Pitti Uomo in Florence or the glitzy sporty separates of Philipp Plein? What are the things that men who work, walk, run and cycle would actually wear? Junya Watanabe has explored this question for some time. For S/S 2018, the look married an urban workwear uniform alongside a sort of manly confidence. A suit was cut from vintage army cloth, its patina becoming its own patchwork. The street casting of men, not boys, grounded the collection – it felt real, believable and desirable.
Team work: We are used to seeing collaborations launched for the Instagram hits alone. Be it musicians recording songs or social media influencers moonlighting as models, it is the lifeblood of so many. Watanabe, however, has been working with the brands he loves for decades. S/S 2018 featured a number of partnerships with British brands including Turnbull & Asser for shirting; outdoor outfitters Karrimor for coats; and printmaker and typographic artist Alan Kitching, whose graphics could be seen on T-shirts. Longstanding partners Levi’s and Carhartt were also here – their utilitarian DNA was refreshed with new fabrication and cut. Forty-eight original styles from Carharrt were created in Watanabe’s choice of fabric and the proportion of Levis was dropped, their pockets elongated.
Finishing touches: S/S 2018 was all about the backpack – the Terra 65. This light, multi-pocket backpack with a refined Optifit harness system is split open and made into jackets too. The bag’s technical fabrication of 600D polyester, 420D mini-ripstop nylon maintains Watanabe’s heritage as a techno-couture designer. Also in the collection were two reversible coats made using the Karrimor Ridge 30 bag. Elsewhere, jackets and cargo trousers with leather patch pockets were worn with the baby blue check shirts or remodelled Turnbull & Asser classics. It is the new normal suit.