Textile Talks… And Walks

Yoshio Kubo

It’s heartening to see retailers here take a chance on relatively unknown labels. Pedder on Scott’s stocking of Yoshio Kubo’s sneakers stands them in good stead against what has increasingly become a homogeneous retail landscape. On a recent visit, we were immediately drawn to these kicks by one of Japan’s most watched designers. Sure, they’re from the Stan Smith school of tennis shoe design, but the fabric upper has more character than any of the colours picked by Pharell Williams for the former’s triumphant resurgence.

The woven textile of this “Tribal” sneaker reflects designer Yoshio Kubo’s penchant for tactile fabrics. A graduate of Philadelphia University’s School of Textile & Science in 2000, Mr Kubo has a way with eye-catching graphic patterns which he applies in unexpected ways. Although critics have described his designs—especially the clothes—as avant garde, he works with primarily recognisable forms. While other designers are going for footwear in exaggerated shapes and crowd-unfriendly protuberances, Mr Kubo has kept to classic, wearable styles.

Yoshio Kubo catwalkThe “Tribal” sneaker seen on Yoshio Kubo’s spring/summer 2016 show in Tokyo

Despite its moniker, the “Tribal” sneaker has a modern sophistication about it. The Derby construction comprising a monotone leather toe box and tongue paired with eyestays and quarter panels in a multi-pattern striped fabric point to a contemporary bohemia not unlike those seen at other Japanese brands such as Visvim. Today’s fashion tribes, as we are increasingly seeing, are ready to adopt motifs not associated with the digital world.

Mr Kubo’s streetwear sensibility was unexpected when he debuted on the runway in Tokyo in 2008. After graduation, he remained in America, where he worked for the designing duo Robert and Rachel Danes, collectively known as Robert Danes. The aesthetic of the Danes, considered “New York couture designers”, couldn’t be more different than Mr Kubo’s. While one brand is associated with gowns usually described as “glamorous”, the other is sort after for his “edgy” clothes that has more in common with Japanese deconstruction than American high-society swank. It is, however, the couture foundation that enables Mr Kubo’s designs to stand out from the mish-mash that is thought to be urban cool. We sure hope this isn’t going to be a one-season offering at Pedder on Scotts.

Yoshio Kubo Track New Tribal Sneakers, SGD480, are available at Pedder on Scotts, Scotts Square