(2016) Winter Style 5: The Big Sweater


The sweater is often overlooked when packing for winter hols. Sure, women love their soft and snugly cashmere jumpers (often part of a twin set), but that’s too Charlotte York (Sex in the City, incidentally, ended in 2004—yes, 12 years ago!). What’s more current and less New England relic is the chunky, funnel-neck sweater. Better still if it’s oversized, such as this hunk by the London label Joseph.

Part of the critically-acclaimed autumn/winter “catwalk” collection (the sales staff will be eager to tell you) by designer Louise Trotter, this sweater is especially appealing because of its craft-like vibe. The uncut yarns, left dangling on the bodice like tassels, recall something rustic. A well-used quilted blanket perhaps? We’re also partial to the dropped, contrast sleeves, on which the right side comes with a cute appliqué of the freedom-eye—just below the elbow—and the off-beat front pattern that is based on fruits.

Joseph describes the sweater’s yarn type as “heritage yarn”. It’s wool for sure, but, based on the hand feel, we do not think it’s made of unscoured wool or wool that has not been washed (typical of, say, the Aran jumper) so that the fibre’s natural lanolin is retained to keep the garment water repellent. Still, this is a beautiful sweater, which, even without a coat, can be the star of the winter wardrobe.

Joseph lambswool handknit ‘Fruit’ sweater, SGD 1210, is available at Joseph, Capitol Piazza. Product photo: Joseph. Collage: Just So

Not A Bite!


It’s there in the window. A beast of a bag. That grin! Those teeth! The eyes! The zip puller of a nose! You want to grab it by the stout handles and go, but, sadly, you can’t.

Hermès’s Bolide weekender with the shark’s face on one side, first seen on the runway of the men’s autumn/winter 2016 collection, sits merrily smiling at you in the window of their Takashimaya store. Inside, however, a wet blanket is waiting to receive you.

You ask the salesperson to show you the bag and he says, “Sorry, that bag is not for sale.”

Er, it’s a window prop?

“Actually, it is for sale. But we are not selling it in Singapore,” came the eager reply.

Where in the world is it for sale?

“Er, I am not sure.”

Can we order one?

“Sorry, we don’t take orders.”

Not even for what price?

“It’s about S$17,500.”

Finally, a serious competitor to Fendi’s Peekaboo bags with those reptilian eyes, but it can’t be had! Is A Bathing Ape’s sweat top with a shark-face hoodie a satisfying substitute? No, we don’t think so, too.

Photo: Galerie Gombak

In Time For The Holidays


This just appeared in our in box. And we’ll admit: we spoke too soon!

The DSMS E-Shop was launched last week and we were a little underwhelmed by its offerings. Five days after our post, Dover Street Market Singapore’s online store is now better stocked to tempt those who are mad about DSM and can’t wait for the arrival of the brand’s newest brick-and-mortar presence on our shores next spring season, likely February.

The e-mail came in at 11.18pm and announced that the “DSM Holiday Specials” will launch on 15 December, the next day, ten days before Christmas, which sounds to us like it was timed for the gift-buying period. One minute past midnight, we clicked on the E-Shop link and in a second we were confronted with Gosha Rubichinskiy’s spring/summer 2017 tops that were touted as “DSM Exclusive Items”.


However, clicking on the items did not bring us to the page where they can be bought. Neither the product photos nor the header were linked to a related page. We allowed our cursor to scroll downwards, and it was the same for the rest of the merchandise, mainly tops—men’s wear (these days, they’re really for both genders): T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts. The biggest lure is likely to be the tri-colour Gosha Rubichinskiy X Fila hooded sweatshirt, as well as track tops in collaboration with Sergio Tacchini and Kappa.

We suspect the new page hasn’t gone ‘live’. Or perhaps, the e-commerce component won’t be activated until past midnight, London time since it is possible that the website management is based in the English capital (we understand that the merchandising and product development offices are in Tokyo).

Still, it is rather exciting to know that Raf Simon X Robert Mapplethorpe and lesser-known names such as Edward Meadham and the streetwear label Anti Social Social Club by the Social Marketing Manager of Stussy and Undefeated disciple Neek Lurk. To the uninitiated, these are all rather streetwear-centric. The thing to note is that DSM is a rather big supporter of streetwear labels, especially in their E-Shop.


Funnily, we felt as if our Christmas wish was granted. In our post, we singled out the Vetements X Reebok Pump Supreme DSM Special Grey sneakers as example of one hot item not available on the website, and there they are in the selection, the only footwear in the “DSM Holiday Specials” so far. If only we could test-run a pair.

Happy Christmas shopping.

You may visit the DSMS E-Shop here. Photos: Dover Street Market

Update (15 Dec, 10.50am): You can now shop the “holiday special items”!


(2016) Winter Style 4: The Blanket Wrap

uniqlo-2-way-stoleUniqlo’s handsome blanket stole. Product photo: Uniqlo. Collage: Just So

As the drapey silhouette is increasingly preferred over the structured, some of us are retiring tailored outerwear such as the Chesterfield coat until they are road-worthy again. One of the easiest ways two lend softness to the outline of any outer is to throw on a shawl. This season, the blanket wrap (also known as a stole) is making a splashy entrance like never before. Oddly, though, few retailers are offering them in addition to the standard scarves.

That’s why it is surprising to us that such a stylish piece could be found in the stores of mass retailer Uniqlo. Thanks to Japan’s biggest fast fashion brand, those bound for wintry lands are now owners of at least one down jacket, and, this season, perhaps also the blanket wrap. Uniqlo’s version, called the stole, is especially appealing because it can be worn on both sides, each a different colour or colour-block. To make this an even bigger draw, Uniqlo has called it a “2-way” and touted its versatility as a wrap and a scarf.

journal-standard-blanket-shawl-aw-2016Journal Standard blanket stole for men. Photo: Journal Standard/Baycrews

Scarves, as a practical accessory, are gender-neutral, yet, puzzling as it may be, the brand is peddling this blanket wrap only to women and has availed them only in the women’s department. Perhaps the problem lies in the name: men don’t wear stoles! The striking thing is, none of the pieces available are particularly feminine. And with a size that’s no different from an airline blanket’s, these are not exactly filmsy-bitsy pieces to be tucked away in a handbag until you need it when the MRT train is unusually cold.

Interestingly, the blanket wrap is also available in Muji and, similarly, is stocked in the woman’s department, possibly due to the how-to-wear hang-tag with a figure that’s clearly female. This seems to us at odds with what many retailers in Japan are doing. One of them is Journal Standard, and they’ve made their mono-tone versions (above) a must-have of the season to update the winter wardrobe of both men’s and women’s. If a friend is in Tokyo now, do ask a favour.

Uniqlo acrylic knit 2-way stole, SGD29.90, is available at Uniqlo stores


Giving In To The New Surrender


With a new location, a store need not keep to its old self. Surrender has taken that approach. If you think that you can still experience one of Singapore’s best regarded men’s wear store the way it was, it may be best to just hold on to your memories.

Flanked by Off-White on one side and Christian Dada on the other, the latest version of Surrender, previously known as #SRD268, is part of a retail triumvirate that dominates the first floor of 268 Orchard Road, the building whose market positioning is unknown. It also seems to have absorbed the street-style vibe of its immediate neighbours. “This isn’t the Surrender we remember,” a couple concurred as they browse quietly in the store on a Friday afternoon. Or could it be due to a loss of familiarity?

That, in itself, is not necessarily a negative, but the success of the over-two-decades-old Surrender, although fairly low-key, is based on a loyal fan base. The new space, designed by the Singapore collective Asylum, could either distance or entice. About a month after it opened, without fanfare, we’re still not sure where we stand.


To be certain, this Orchard Road store is not unattractive, but it is no doubt strikingly different from its previous form. The first thing that hits you is the lack of warmth. Here, unlike in Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade, the space is based on the black-and-white-wall, concrete-floor variety, which clearly contrasts the former’s wood/carpet/cabinetry amalgamation.

The layout isn’t so straightforward either. A circular central area, within which appears to be a sort of event space, is demarcated by curved, not-level walls—the spot, while effectively creates an otherwise non-existent zone, distracts shoppers from noticing its regular shop confines. Lower-case-N-shaped, railing-style metal racks line the perimeter and curved walls, hinting at an industrial bent, but could be there to lend the space the presently important street cred.


On these racks, the clothes—now including some women’s wear—at a quick glance also seem divided from the former mix, which was heavy on Japanese labels. No doubt, the best-selling Neighbourhood and some compatriot names are there (a reduced total), but they seem overshadowed by new European and American brands that appear to bank on edginess than substance to stand out. There’s also a Goth undercurrent that, to the store’s followers, is not a part of the aesthetic of the past. Could this be the consequence of merging the original Surrender and Salon by Surrender (formerly at MBS)?

It is tempting to assume that Surrender’s parent company D’League is taking a different path. The opening of both their Off-White and Christian Dada stores in the same location hinted at Surrender’s meandering off their former track. We just did not see it sooner. But the change is not all that surprising when savvy retailers are expected to react to shifts in the marketplace. If the traffic at Off-White is any indication, the streetwear-and athleisure-heavy merchandising of Surrender is a logical progression for the business.

surrender-interior-3Surrender interior 4.jpg

What, perhaps, is more alluring is the new sneaker space. Here, you’ll find sneakerhead faves such as Visvim and limited-issue Nikes and every rich kid’s preferred footwear Buscemi. They’re all arranged neatly on rows and rows of shelves, rather than mostly on the floor at its former location. This part is a separate cocoon of a space and, despite its fluorescent-white light, feels the comfiest and most inviting.

Surrender, the way we see it, isn’t an update; it’s a reincarnation.

The new Surrenderstore  is at 268 Orchard Road. Photos: Galerie Gombak

Bamboo Strong, Bamboo Square

In the Chinese classic The Twenty-Four Filial Examplars (二十四孝), compiled and written by the Yuan dynasty scholar Guo Jujing (郭居敬), one exemplary act of parental love was from the military-man-turned-magistrate Meng Zong (孟宗), who also made literary appearances in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义). Meng Zong was so filial that no less than five stories described the selfless acts he did for his mother. Among them (and the most famous) was the incident in which he was able to move the heavens so much that he was bestowed a life-saving gift.

Meng Zong’s mother, as the story went, was suddenly seriously ill and had requested for bamboo shoot soup to make her feel better (some Chinese texts told of 笋尖湯 or soup of bamboo shoot tips). Always giving his mother what she wanted, Meng Zong set forth to look for bamboo shoots. There was, however, a problem: it was the middle of winter. Undeterred, Meng Zong continued his search, but it was to no avail. Thinking of his ill mother’s wishes unfulfilled, the fellow cried. But it was no ordinary tears of disappointment. According to one account, “tears began to fall in rivers to the ground”.

Such a watercourse must have been visible to the gods above. In no time, Meng Zong stumbled upon shoots among the bamboos and was able to gather enough to make his mother’s desired soup, which, consequently, made her well. The story not only impressed the neighbours who believed that filial resolve moved heaven to ask earth for a favour, it produced the four-character Chinese idiom 哭竹生笋 or crying to the bamboo sprouts shoots.

c-blu-stacked-ringSilver stacked bamboo ring

Creator of the new jewellery brand Chinoiserie Blu, Way Tay, did not have to cry into bamboos to encourage the shoot of his label to sprout, but it has been a near-tears experience. The birth of C Blu (as the brand is affectionately called among members of the media) is the result of hard work, not miracles—diligence and drudgery in equal measure as Mr Tay is not a jewellery designer by profession.

Until jewellery design came a-calling, he was (and still is) a graphic designer. Mr Tay, a graduate of Massachusetts College of Arts & Design, runs a successful creative and PR agency he co-founded in 2002, yet he gives in to the passion that has consumed him for a long time: making beautiful tactile things. The journey began two years ago, meandered through courses in computer-aided design, metal-smithing, jewellery design, as well as understanding of gem stones, before coming to the naissance of C Blu.

“From young,” Mr Tay said, connecting the dots between the two-dimensionality of his prior work and the three of the present, “I was always making and building with Plasticine. In school, I took sculpting classes and made models that were derived from 2-D drawings during ‘live’ drawing classes.” The recall is made with palpable pride just as the showing of his new jewellery collection is made with considerable satisfaction—the contented father and his commendable brood.

SONY DSCGold-plated silver bamboo square within a square pendant

Launched last Wednesday, C Blu’s debut is a small collection of five pieces in either rhodium- or 18k-gold-plated silver, all inspired by the panda’s favourite food: bamboo. Essentially a grass, the evergreen bamboo has 700 years of history and is sometimes the stuff of myth, which perhaps explains the endless fascination it elicits among designers.

In fact, the bamboo, although a plant of Asian origin, has been copped by European brands, such Gucci, who has made the bamboo handle and the toggle closure identifiable details of its signature bag. So successful has the bamboo been for the brand that bamboo-shaped jewellery— bangles, no less—are in store too.

The bamboo’s linearity and distinct Orientalism are especially well-suited to jewellery design and they show. From the storied American house of Tiffany to the trendy British jeweller Dinny Hall, and in China, from the Hermès-backed Shang Xia to the Richemont-owned Shanghai Tang, bamboo is not to be missed. Mr Tay is well aware of the bamboo’s popularity among designers, noting that it, too, appears in the works of Bali-based John Hardy, but he is unfazed by the possibility that it may be a design cliché. “A designer’s challenge,” he maintained, “is always to innovate from a basic concept and create something unique or unexpected. Otherwise, one can always say everything has been done.”

c-blu-banglesChinoiserie Blu’s distinctive pieces, the square bangles

Furthermore, “the point of difference is in our design and pricing. Our pieces bridge the market and target those looking for high quality, hand-made jewellery, in limited pieces, with a very accessible price range. This is a new luxe available to all,” he enthused. Accessibility, while a necessary starting point for a competitive business and a purse-tight customer base, is, perhaps, secondary to design. C Blu’s refined pieces are striking at first encounter because they speak a relatable modern vernacular, even if the source of inspiration is as old as flowers.

The square is the main shape of the entire collection. Using this rather than the obvious and omnipresent circle could bode well for the brand. The square, to the Chinese, is, interestingly, not quite the same geometrically as it is perceived in the West. In the Chinese language, a four-sided shape is known by the basic word fang (方) and a square is known as zheng fang (正方), while the rectangle is chang fang (长方). The word zheng also means straight and denotes uprightness, both qualities associated with the bamboo.

c-blu-pull-quoteThe pieces, sensuous to the touch, are all individually handmade in Singapore of three-percent palladium-enriched sterling silver (an alloy known for its strength that, for some jewellers, is the same as that of 14k white gold, and, in the case of jewellery, appreciated for its definition and durability) to better mimic the toughness of bamboo, and rhodium-plated to maintain shine and prevent tarnishing.

Despite bamboo and the West’s unceasing love affair, Way Tay is certain his interpretation won’t cut the plant’s inherent aesthetic appeal or, conversely, exoticise its charms. “When luxury brands create products with Chinese motifs,” he laments, “they become cool and are in demand, but when local brands do the same, it takes time for the market to accept. That’s the irony.” Undaunted, he says, “I hope to re-shape the thinking and perception in this area through Chinoiserie Blu.” As with Meng Zong, the gods may just be looking kindly down from above.

Chinoiserie Blu’s debut ‘Bamboo 1 Square’ collection, from USD70, is available at chinoiserieblu.com. Photos: Jim Sim

Pump Up The Boots


By Ray Zhang

I know sneaker boots are the footwear of the season, but I did not expect Reebok to give its classic InstaPump Fury a boot makeover by changing its Insta-recognisable mid-sole. Well, I suppose if you can give the hem of chinos those of joggers, you can give shoes a sole they were not born with.

Reebok, in re-imaging the base of this bombastic shoe, has taken out the soul of the InstaPump Fury’s unique mid-sole. I know many people who obsess over the InstaPump Fury because of the original’s ahead-of-its-time thick sole. And I am acquainted with a PR manager who loves hers (eight pairs, last count) because she “benefits from the extra inches”.

The InstaPump Fury Boot’s mid-sole is similar to those of work boots, so it hasn’t got the thickness of Shibuya toasts. It’s now the light weight, pancake-thin rubber sole made by the Italian firm Vibram—originally used on mountaineering boots—and is fused to the unchanged upper by what Reebok calls ‘Norwegian welt’, which I assume is a hard-wearing bonding technique that can be marketed as non-native, just like lingonberries.

You don’t imagine that the InstaPump Fury Boot can be re-soled to look like something that came out of Oak Street Bootmakers, but I have to admit: they’re really attractive. The InstaPump Fury’s alien-wear upper still looks mutant, but it sits on the new flatter sole beautifully, just like one particular Kryptonian on earth!

What works surprising well, too, is the rather wide leather corridor with the double, white, contrast stitching (on the black and camo versions). It dials down the sportif element just a notch, which means the boots could be tuxedo pants’ new bro or athletes’ de-rigueur footwear on award nights.

This is, perhaps, Reebok’s new mission: give its heritage shoes a dressed-up, grown-up spin. It’s all part of the new 58 Bright St project (named after the streets of the first UK and USA addresses respectively), which aims to go conceptual with some of its most identifiable silhouettes, possibly to gain ground in a frighteningly competitive sneaker market. The businessman’s fear is our gain. In the spirit of the season, I toast to that!

The Reebok InstaPump Fury Boots, SGD349, in black, grey, and camouflage, are available at Limited Edt Vault, 313@Sommerset. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

(2016) Winter Style 3: The Hybrid Jacket


Sometimes, for your winter holiday, you want neither a puffer jacket nor a tailored overcoat. Perhaps you want something that is as relaxed as a sweat top, but isn’t one (enough of those!). This is where this oversized jacket with military flourish by COS comes in.

We’re attracted to the tented shape: it’s cape-like, but not as fly-away as an actual cape. This outer comes with sleeves: not one pair but two. The top-layer sleeves are extended from the dropped shoulder (which makes the overall shape more relaxed) and reach just past the elbow, while the inner sleeves are slimmer and cover the wrist, which is what you want in the cold. We especially like the illusion it gives: there seems to be two article of clothing here when, in fact, there’s only one. That’s what fashion editors would call clever layering and what your suitcase will call, happily, one item less.

When worn, it has the fit of a parka, which means it is roomy enough for you to don a thick fisherman’s sweater under it, or even a bubble coat. The rear of the jacket is cut longer than the front, and is lightly elasticised to gently hug the hips—practical detail for windy conditions. Talking about wind, there are also those oversized pentagonal pockets, the perfect repository for a smartphone, a camera, and your freezing hands.

This jacket, which zips in the front like a blouson, is light too. Made of a spongy synthetic fabric that looks and feels like the love child of neoprene and French terry, it is an outer that won’t put undue pressure on the weight limit of your check-in luggage. This holiday season, we sure can live with that.

COS women’s oversized jacket with detachable hood, SGD275, is available at COS stores. Product photo: COS. Collage: Just So

A Foretaste Of Things To Comme

dsms-online-storeBefore Dover Street Market (DSM) Singapore opens next year (some time after Chinese New Year, a source tells us), we get to see and buy some of the merchandise that it will carry via their E-Shop. The online shopping site of DSMS—not, as many have assumed, DSMSG—launched this week to no fanfare, which is not unusual when it comes to projects under Comme des Garçons’s watch.

It is exciting, of course, that DSM is going to be here soon, after London, Ginza (Tokyo), and New York, and that there’s even a homepage (below) that pertains to the Singapore store. But if you hope to score the Vetements X Reebok Pump Supreme DSM Special Grey sneakers (available exclusively in the DSM L, G, and NY sites), then you shall be disappointed. In fact, the hungry you will not be able to buy a lot of stuff… not yet.

dsms-landing-pageWhat are available are the tops from the Play line (no Holiday Emoji), the Play Converse shoes, and a range of Comme des Garçons wallets, nothing more. These are non-seasonal items, and are part of what the other sister sites sell all year round. In fact, the only brand listed in the ‘Items’ column on the left of the page, where there is usually a far longer listing, is Comme des Garçons. For fans, that may just be enough to whet the appetite.

Although the DSMS E-Shop looks like the others, it seems, for now, like a test site to us. If you want to know about delivery and shipping charges, for instance, it requests that you “ask the DSM E-Shop” (via e-mail). We did not ask, but at check-out, it is indicated that standard shipping (1—3 days) costs S$15, while same-day shipping is S$30.

After less than five minutes of browsing, you’re inclined to visit other fully-stocked DSM E-Shops. The spring 2017 opening of DSMS, as the website reveals, is just too far away.

(2016) Winter Style 2: The Hound’s-Tooth Jacket


How do you fashion a down jacket without making it look like something that walked out of Shanghi’s Qipu Lu wholesale malls, where Michelle Chong’s alter ego Lulu found immense pleasure? You create three-dimensional hound’s-tooth jackets, just like they have at Moncler.

The hound’s tooth by itself is, of course, not new. This woven or printed pattern of jagged checks can be traced to wool cloths used in the Scottish Lowlands in the 1800s. They’re primarily in two tones—traditionalists would stick to black and white. This is why Moncler’s version is especially interesting: it’s all-black, and relies on texture—smooth and grained—to show the contrast of the hound’s-tooth pattern.

This fabric (100% polyamide to better serve as a lightweight shell for a down garment) is found in the Moncler Grenoble line’s ‘Orelle’ waistcoat (with detachable hoodie). The oversized lacquered hound’s tooth, in a six-point quilted shape that resembles an arrow, is an immediate draw. It’s a check that asks to be touched as it does not appear to be a fully-quilted garment.

The puffer jacket, however on trend, isn’t a winter option women embrace with the same fervour as picking a cashmere sweater. Concerns of looking too, well, puffed up, often influence the decision to buy. If there’s the fear of looking like a potential Michelin Man’s just-as-puffy cousin, the ‘Orelle’ sans sleeve in a silhouette that hints at ’60s après-ski chic may just vastly distant that relation!

Moncler Grenoble ‘Orelle’ quilted waistcoat, SGD3760, is available at Moncler, Ion Orchard. Product photo: Moncler. Collage: Just So

Sacai: The Waves Get Bigger


Not many women designers from Japan get to take the world by storm. Rei Kawakubo did in the early ’80s after facing initial ridicule and derision. The setbacks, if it they can be so called, however, lead the way to the upcoming exhibition dedicated to her at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in May next year. Ms Kawakubo would be the only second living designer in the Costume Department’s history to be given the honour, after Yves Saint Laurent in 1983, following the debut of Comme des Garçons (CDG) in Paris two years earlier. Chisato Abe, the designer behind the label Sacai (actually her maiden name), did not have it quite as hard and daunting mainly because she came into her own in what may be considered the post-Japanese era.

Sacai is no CDG, but Chisato Abe is not an isolated designer working in an obscure corner of Tokyo, selling her wares in a small shop in the hipster neighbourhood of Kamimeguro. In fact, the Sacai flagship, opened in 2011, is in the swanky Minami-Aoyama district where edgier Japanese designers tend to concentrate. The red-bricked building, although situated in an area where Prada, Costume National, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, and the two-level shopping complex Glassarea are neighbours, looks like an unlikely spot to house Sacai’s eye-catching designs—you’d expect to find a convenience store here. But it is here, far from the maddening crowd that is the nearby Harajuku that fans get an appreciative peek into the world of Sacai.


Ms Abe cut her teeth at Comme des Garçons before assisting Junya Watanabe (also under the umbrella of CDG designers) for 8 years, both experiences the ideal springboard to her own line. Sacai was established in 1991, after the birth of her first child (interestingly, Ms Abe is married to another-Japanese-label-to-watch Kolor’s Junichi Abe). Despite her design pedigree (she’s also know to be a talented pattern cutter), she does not create what she described to the media as “typical Japanese design”. She said that what she does is “more international”.

And it is on the international stage that Sacai has won accolades and the loyalty of many a fashion editor. The label debuted in Paris Fashion Week in 2012 with the kind of response her former employer received only after the world realised they were witnessing history in the making. Ms Abe has said that she learnt well at CDG and that Ms Kawakubo herself has told her “to be your own designer and create what you want.” And she did just that, producing striking clothes that, unlike some of her fellow CDG alumni, do not even hint at a Rei Kawakubo hand guiding the designs.

chitose-abe-x-nikeChitose Abe with model in Nikelab X Sacai (2015), shot by Craig McDean. Photo: Nikelab

So confidently executed was her work, so sure her voice and so ardent her audience that in no time, she was collaborating with multi-billion-dollar brands, such as Nike last year, in her first sportswear collaboration. The Nikelab project showed that Ms Abe was ready to take on new challenges. Those pieces, based on classic Nike men’s track wear, turned performance-enhancing athletic apparel into visually stunning Sacai clothes that women were buying not for jogging in a city park (where you would need good-looking clothes rather than regular gym togs), but dancing at the chicest downtown clubs.

That she would chose to pair with Nike was not surprising as her former boss, Junya Watanabe, is a Nike fan and serial collaborator, and his taste could have rubbed off (her husband’s Kolor, interestingly, paired with Nike’s greatest competitor Adidas!). What makes her take on Nike exceptional is her willingness to incorporate her sense of quirky femininity into sports clothes that, by definition and function, have to be frills-free. Yet her tops and jackets have pleated and swing backs that open up like a ballerina’s tutu when in sporting motion.


Sacai’s appeal is, perhaps, best encapsulated in those unexpected backs. Her clothes, in fact, do not have fronts and backs that correspond to conventional fronts and backs. She designs by looking at every side of the garment, improving and surprising where you do not think improvement and surprise need exist. She likes bringing contrasting elements together and often pairs military and utilitarian details with totally feminine components such as floral silk chiffon fabrics, proving that masculine touches can enhance femininity, rather than overt, skin-baring sexiness. For all her avant-garde tendencies, Sacai looks decidedly approachable; the clothes do look like clothes, wearable to boot.

Ms Abe may claim that Sacai is not “typical Japanese design”, but the brand is Japanese at heart, and the creative output can only come out of Japan. After that first wave of Japanese designers in the early ’80s, many observers think subsequent Japanese designers are not capturing the world’s attention like they used to. Their distinctive aesthetic, after 35 years, is perhaps no longer as particular or idiosyncratic. It’s not even sub-cultural, now that it has crossed so many borders, and aped by so many designers of the West. In addition, neighbouring Korea is attracting awareness with their kooky streetwear. But Japan, ever the relentless re-inventor, is still quietly challenging the standard issue. Sacai is leading the pack, cut by cut, fold by fold.

Sacai’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection (pictured) is available at Club 21 and Club 21 Men. Catwalk photos: Sacai

GSS In December?


This just appeared in our inbox. And it was definitely a ‘huh?’ moment. Could it be that the year isn’t coming to an end, and that the Christmas songs playing in the distance are a part of our over-active imagination? Sometimes you smell pine even when you’re not in a forest of conifers; so desirous of a non-tropical Christmas that the yearning plays tricks on your olfactory organs. If only it’s the month of May! But, it’s been a year of lows more than highs, and many of us want next year to come, in the hope that things may be better. Skip Christmas altogether!

Muji, you’ve got us mystified. It was like looking at a monthly calendar that stopped being flipped on the month of Labour Day. Or maybe someone in marketing sacrificed her bonus this year in order to recycle a six-month old ad.