Here Comes Pretty Green

Pretty Green AW 2015Images from Pretty Green’s AW 2015 campaign. Photos: Pretty Green

Pretty Green, one of Britain’s most attitude-heavy labels, has arrived on our shores. The name may sound like an environmentalist’s rallying call, but it’s a lot further from ecological causes than the name suggests. Launched in June 2009 by Oasis front man Noel Gallagher, Pretty Green is a youth-oriented line that looks to Britain’s rock and roll tradition of yore for inspiration. These are clothes that you can imagine Mr Gallangher and his ex-band mates wearing. You can imagine yourself in them too.

Pretty Green made its appearance in Isetan Scotts last month at a newly conceived corner called iEdit. While iEdit comes from a tiring naming convention (made even less exceptional with the presence of women’s wear label iBlues just one floor below), it does try to say something about Isetan’s attempt at differentiating itself from other department stores by bringing in labels that are moderately on the side of cool.

Pretty Green could just be the brand to elevate the standing of the lacklustre store even when the new brand’s offerings bear a resemblance to another British label across the same floor: Fred Perry. While both bank on their London origins and their affinity to the mod subculture of the Sixties in the UK for sartorial excitement, they are really as similar as Noel and Liam Gallangher.

Despite the indie-rock cred Mr Gallager brings to the brand, Pretty Green—named after a song by The Jam—has an appeal that’s pro-everyday bloke. It’s not as ordinary as Ben Sherman, but it isn’t as innovative as Folk. The stuff that bring a smile to your face are unusual colour pairings and prints of indeterminate origins. You’ll find all the basic stuff in the collection, too: T-shirts, polos, and shirts… except, maybe, cardigans. As Mr Gallangher once said, “I have got a bit of an issue with cardigans. They’re shit, aren’t they?”

At our first visit to the Pretty Green store in London’s Carnaby Street back in 2011, we were charmed by the interior’s indie-music vibe (we can’t remember if any Oasis songs were played). Despite the relative smallness of the place, it felt like the open wardrobe of a very cool, guitar-totting star.

…and Kansai Yamamoto!

Kansai Yamamoto @ Isetan

Just two of the meek collection of Kansai Yamamoto T-Shirts at Isetan Scotts

In the Seventies and early Eighties, he was one of the biggest names in Japanese fashion… and the flashiest too. Kansai Yamamoto’s loud, sometimes lurid, graphics predated Jeremy’s Scott’s nearly-as-similar gaudiness. His screaming aesthetics caught the attention of David Bowie during the latter’s Ziggy Stardust period. That led to Mr Yamamoto designing some of Mr Bowie’s most iconic stage costumes.

However, all that flamboyance isn’t evident at Isetan’s resurrection of Kansai Yamamoto, the label. Available during the current Japan Express retail event, the line comprises of only T-shirts and three cotton-canvas tote bags, all hung on one single rack. The T-shirts, for both men and women, do not sport the typical attention-grabbing Japanese graphic Mr Yamamoto is known for. In fact, you will fail to notice the mere hints of what the designer used to communicate. Odd, considering that, with the likes of KTZ and Hood by Air, consumers are devouring eye-catching images and prints like never before.

Kansai Yamamoto, 71, was considered one of the earliest Japanese to show overseas, debuting in London in 1971 and in Paris in 1975. His clothes may not have been as commercially successful as those by his compatriots that showed later, but they were especially appealing to those in the music industry (Marc Bolan and Elton John were fans too), as well as those who cannot derive enough from clothes unless they have the same visual shrill as kabuki costumes. As the unrestrained excesses of the Seventies gave way to the controlled glamour of the Eighties, Mr Yamamoto’s popularity faded. Eventually, he bowed out of fashion to design costumes and for the stage: to note were the mega-entertainment productions, such as his own multi-disciplinary Super Shows.

Kansai Yamamoto @ V&AKansai Yamamoto in full form at the V&A’s Fashion in Motion

Mr Yamamoto made a comeback of sorts in 2013 at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum with a show Fashion in Motion. In January this year, Isetan Tokyo opened a Kansai Yamamoto pop-up shop in its Shinjuku flagship, featuring “tribute designers” interpreting Kansai Yamamoto’s dramatic aesthetics. At the event, David Bowie’s unmistakable jumpsuit for his Aladdin Sane tour of 1973 was on display, among other memorabilia. Going by Japanese media accounts, it was one of the New Year highlights of 2013. Regrettably, with Isetan’s meek selection, ours will not be the highlight of the year’s end.

Pretty Green, from S$89, and Kansai Yamamoto T-shirts, S$230, are available at Isetan Scotts