This Is No Green Effort

Craig Green’s first collaboration with Adidas is sure-footed work and possibly one of the Three Stripes’ best ever



By Ray Zhang

Frankly, I would have preferred that Craig Green paired with Nike. There are more interesting silhouettes in Nike’s archive to exploit. The Japanese designers have been especially successful in morphing Nike’s classic kicks into deliciously new shapes. Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, for one. But London’s leading designer chose to work with Adidas. I wonder if Mr Green is himself a Three Stripes or Swoosh wearer.

Perhaps that does not matter. Mr Green’s first output with Adidas is out today. And sneakerheads are understandably excited. One told me that this is a “must-have of 2020”! Fresh from a stunning debut at Paris Fashion Week, Mr Green is establishing himself even more among hypebeasts with, not one but two, sneaker releases (the next collab was already shown earlier in the month in Paris). By the time you read this, they’re probably sold out.


The collaboration with Adidas Originals (again, staff in the store told me this is a “boutique release”, hence not available at even the flagship store) yields two styles: the CG Kontuur I (top) and CG Kontuur II (above), based on the retro-clean Kamada and flat-bread-looking Ozweego, respectively. I personally do not gravitate to either. If I had to choose, I think I’d go for the CG Kontuur II since I am partial to Raf Simons’s re-interpretations of the Ozweego. But interestingy, it’s the CG Kontuur I that speaks to me. Mr Green’s version sports his love for padded details, and the midnight-blue (they call it navy) upper and black mid-sole combo is especially fetching. That it is an extremely comfortable shoe—although a little too formless—adds to its cyber-geek appeal. Only thing is, I’m quite over chunky sneaks.

“Footwear is like a sculpture,” Mr Green offers through a media release. “There’s so much you can do with sneakers that you can’t do with clothing.” But he is already doing a lot with clothes, I think, sculptural ones too. Sneakers are just part of an expanding universe of merchandise. And I believe I’ve seen the future: with the next Adidas collab, Craig Green’s done a lot of the “so much”, and it is even more enticing. Stay tuned.

Craig Green X Adidas Originals, CG Kontuur 1 and CG Kontuur 2, SGD380, is available at DSMS from today. Photos: Zhao Xiangji

Billie Eilish: Future of Youth Fashion?

If the Bad Guy singer was not at the Grammys, she might have been a resident of Suzhou, an eighteen-year-old punk-auntie taking a walk in the city in jammies


Billie Eilish Grammys

Billie Eilish, it’s not enough that you won four Grammys, you had to turn up in that outfit. You had to align yourself with Gucci; you had to get them to make you a set of pyjamas to strut the red carpet. In fact, head-to-nail-to-toe Gucci. Sure, we get it: this is a luxury take on what you’re used to. And yes, Gucci’s fastest-growing slice of the business is consumers like you: 24 and under—what marketeers call Gen Z. We get it. You have made some unconventional musical choices, why did you make a conventional fashion pick? We don’t mean just the get-up; we mean the brand too. Seriously, how much more anti-fit clothes do we need to see, how many more logos-as-repeated-patterns?

You’re known to wear figure-obscuring clothes, but we didn’t think that you’d don your dad’s nightwear to the Grammys. Or, obnubilate what were later revealed to be not unattractive eyes and mouth, from which you had sung so captivatingly. We know you like to dress to avoid being tagged babe or sexy. We know. But must modesty be this covered-up? Must not-following-the-contours-of-the-body be this baggy? Must taking attention off the female form be this androgynous?

Sure, it’s different, what you’re doing/wearing/showing. You don’t have Lisso’s heft to need to prove that sexiness can come in other shapes. You don’t have Ariana Grande’s pony tail to show that cute can negate curly, flowing locks. You don’t have Lana Del Rey’s retro vibe to wear things in a certain way and, as a result, look not of the present. But, you don’t have to obscure your youth to downplay it or diminish it. You don’t have to succumb to the persistent convention that ugly can be pretty.

As a performer, you’re compelling to watch. In the Bad Guy MV, it is a joy to see you prance about—the infectious synths and bass so divorced from your soft, almost whispery near-monotone vocals that soundtrack your don’t-give-a-damn play with the camera. You bring to mind Janis Ian (Mean Girls), but you make her look lame. Even your yellow hoodie and jogger make The Bride’s (Kill Bill) similarly hued track suit pale in comparison. It helps that all the while, you sing that you’re the “make-your-girlfriend-mad type/might-seduce-your-dad type.” In baggy clothes? What sexual powers are hidden in them?

Your debut album, last year’s beautiful oddity When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? include the standout track, the seductive/hummable/tender Everything I Wanted, which sounds like it is in the process of being written… in a corner of a dance club… with the EDM in the background. Or, something Miley Cyrus probably wished she had composed. In the accompanying self-directed MV that seems like a snap of a suicide attempt, you sing mostly in an ominously dark car. Your clothes cannot be discerned; they may not even be there. We saw only your anguished face. Fashion doesn’t matter. Billie Eilish, you’re no Taylor Swift. Thank goodness for that.

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

A Pioneer Passes

Obituary | Tan Beng Yan, the fashion retail doyenne behind Tyan Fashions was a private individual who had more of a doting mother’s instinct than a clothing retailer’s ambition 


Tan Beng Yan 2013Tan Beng Yan at a Vivienne Tam in-store show in 2013. Photo: Tyan

Among the women fashion retailers of multi-labels that emerged in the mid-Eighties (or earlier), Tan Beng Yan was probably the quietest and least-known. Yet, she was less mysterious than Club 21’s Christina Ong. Those who knew her referred to her vivacious and sociable nature, yet she was not as press-savvy/ready as Man and his Woman’s (now defunct) Judith Chung, a former journalist with The Straits Times. She was known to have kept the company of some of her well-heeled customers, yet she did not share the glamourous standing of The Link’s (also defunct) Tina Tan (not related), now the founder of Privato. The owner of Tyan was, by most account, a down–to–earth entrepreneur—“one of the nicest people in fashion,” a former magazine editor told SOTD. “Motherly, too.”

Mrs Tan, 70, passed away this past Tuesday, shortly after a family trip to Japan. The news shocked many customers, as well as industry friends and former colleagues, with many saying they had not known she was so seriously ill. It was reported that she succumbed to leukemia, but few knew of or talked about her declining health. She had, according to those who knew her, remained her upbeat/jovial self. Family members told friends at the wake that she had been responding well to treatment. A magazine editor who had been friends with Mrs Tan since the ’80s, and who knew she was unwell said, “She didn’t want others to be overtly concerned… and she was a fighter.”

It is possible, too, that Mrs Tan valued her privacy; she was known to shield her personal life from needless attention. She hardly talked about her children (except, in recent years, that her second daughter Gayle is “helping” her) or made references to her connection to the Tan Chong Group (her husband Tan Eng Soon is chairman of listed motor firm Tan Chong International and their son Glenn Tan is the company MD). When once asked if she could be interviewed for a magazine article, she told the editor, “I’m not that interesting”. And gleefully changed the subject, “let’s go eat”. Mrs Tan was as known for her “zest for life”—her editor-friend was quick to point out—as her love for food.

20-01-25-21-44-23-833_decoA spacious and plush Tyan store. Photo: Tyan

Tyan opened in 1986, fourteen years after Club 21 (which was set up in 1971 as a man’s tailor shop before transforming into a multi-label store a year later) and Man and his Woman, and four years after The Link (which was a 2.0 of Link, originally conceived in 1973 by Chan Kheng Lin—now Farah Khan, founder of the Melium Group and the emporium Aseana, as well as her eponymous label). The ’80s was considered the heydays of the multi-designer-label store. Singaporeans were able to shop for their favourite European labels among other European labels during a time of burgeoning ready-to-wear. And a few enterprising women were quick to react to the opportunities such a retail concept provided in what was initially our island’s rather barren retail landscape.

While most stores competed with each other to score the most happening labels of the time, Tyan was working with those that had what one buyer called “practical appeal”. A former fashion editor told us that the store offered “stylish but not overtly trendy” clothes. “It’s a multi-label store that offers a variety of styles at affordable price range,” he added. “Tyan stood the test of time, as retail goes bonkers—up and down”. This is achieved through a balanced mix of accessible names such as Betty Barclay and Paula Ke and edgier ones such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, and clearly commercial brands such as Japanese bag label Samantha Thavasa.

Mrs Tan’s background in fashion goes back to her time at Hagemeyer Trading, the once Dutch-owned, Singapore-based company founded in Surabaya in 1904 that distributed brands such as Christian Dior (yes, it was known by its full name!). She was, in fact, CD’s (and, yes, it went by that abbreviation too) boutique manager from 1979 to 1986. Prior to Tyan, she started  her own fashion label Saturday’s Child (based on the “Carnaby Street look”, she once told a journalist), conceived with her Hagemeyer colleague, CD brand manager Alice Fu, who would later be Tang’s first head buyer for women’s wear between 1982 to 1996. Having run her own label, Mrs Tan understood the difficulties of creating and selling local, and was willing to support the fledgling, such as jewellery designer Marilyn Tan’s early collections in the ’90s.

Despite the vagaries of fashion and the retailing of it, one constant remained: Mrs Tan was committed to helping others. Although she hardly talked about her philanthropic work, she was known as a tireless fundraiser. From 2009 to 2015, she was a member of the board of directors of the Singapore Heart Foundation (SHF) and the chairperson of its fundraising committee. In a Facebook post, SHF wrote, “We remember Mrs Tan as a cheerful and driven woman, who was not only committed in raising funds for SHF, but also did it with great finesse.” It was the same finesse that Tan Beng Yan brought to fashion retail on our island, and secured Tyan’s admirable longevity.

Rodent Stock

This Lunar New Year, brands are scampering to take your money for ratty fashion


ChinatownCNY 2020This year’s Eu Tong Sen-facing street decoration in Chinatown

By Mao Shan Wang

Rats! This year will soon arrive. I don’t know about you, but I am, in real life, not a fan of rats. Not one bit, these muroids, with their dirty-brown hair and pesky tails, and their love for gnawing and scavenging. I can deal with cockroaches, however many, but rats just sickens me, even just one. There, I’ve said it. I don’t deny that my distaste for them borders on disgust.

Despite their icky appearance, the Chinese zodiac has a special love for them, placing the rat ahead of the pack. The current CNY decoration in Chinatown best illustrates this. According to my mom, the rat is very smart, ingenious even, so much so that it’s able to outsmart and kick the cat out the race to be right ahead of the 12-animal conga line. That sounds pretty smart to me. But, according to Chinese Zodiac myth, the rat actually hitched a ride on the ox and jumped off the beast to propel him to the front! Talk about stepping stones!

Apart from the rat’s intelligence, the creature is, according to the ancients, also blessed with other anthropomorphic traits: charm(!), quick-wit, diligence, and practicality. I’m not sure what that would make (a good husband?), but I think that many would find such a character attractive, if not endearing. Which may explain why, in the cartoon world, so many lovable characters are based on rats.

Mickey X MangoMickey Mouse at Mango

The shu nian, like many years of the different animals before it, is opportunity for fashion brands to sell merchandise sporting the star creature. They could choose from so many of them, be they from books or screen animations, but they narrowed their choice to one—many chose predictable and bland Mickey Mouse, which, conversely, have been described as, among other qualities, handsome and heroic. I suppose abdominous Mickey is convenient and identifiable. Using him requires no starting from scratch. Why bother with a new delineation when Disney will readily licence a very white black mouse for any use, even for a largely Asian audience? And he’s available in so many forms—old and new.

If they really wanted handsome and heroic—appreciable modern rarities, there’s Remy from Ratatouille or Jerry of Tom & Jerry (to be sure, Etude House used them) or Minute of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse (too old?). Or, if muscles are the prerogative, Mighty Mouse (the cartoon character, not Apple’s input device from 2005!). Or, if literary associations vital, Stuart Little. Or, if a female is preferred (in a post-Wonder Woman world, they are), Miss Bianca from The Rescuers. Or, if gender-fluidity is a must, Coney from the wildly popular Line characters. Or, if racial inclusiveness the most crucial, my all-time fave, Speedy Gonzales. No, they prefer same-old and sure-safe Mickey Mouse.

Gucci jeans & track top SS 2020Gucci track top and denim jeansDsneyDisney’s own Mickey Mouse merchandise with local expressionsH&M X Disney SS 2020H&M sweatshirt featuring a 3-D Mickey MouseDisney X Aldo sneakers SS 2020Disney X Aldo sneakers

Mickey appearing on Uniqlo or H&M tees is understandable—expected, even, but as a mascot for a luxury brand such as Gucci? To me, it’s jejune and unimaginative and too convenient. Mickey Mouse is there for the taking, so take it. That’s what it says to me. After all, the brand had already collaborated with Disney; they’ve produced a USD4,500(!), 3-D printed plastic handbag in the shape of Mickey’s head to mark the mouse’s 90th anniversary in 2018. No sweat if Disney’s beloved character is used. Again.

Some other brands do try, with varying degrees of success (authenticity? That’s another point). There’s a blotch of a rat at CK Calvin Klein, accompanied by a message: “TO SEE WHAT OTHERS DO NOT SEE THAT IS TRUE VISION”. Yes, in full caps and WhatsApp-worthy lack of punctuation. That’s probably paraphrasing Jonathan Swift—“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”, but what the saying has to do with rats is anyone’s guess. Perhaps cuteness alone isn’t quite enough; you have to appear smart (isn’t that already a rat trait?), better still, literary.

cK Calvin Klein shirt SS 2020CK Calvin Klein shirt with message and mouseNudie Jeans jacket S 2020Nudie Jeans Vinny Year of the Rat denim jacket at The Denim Store, 313@OrchardBrooks Brothers SS 2020Brooks Brothers sweater and a dressed grey mouse20-01-23-01-36-34-390_decoNikelab’s rat pack for DSM. Photo: DSM

Elsewhere, a pointy-nosed Japanese-esque mouse is seen on a Nudie Jeans trucker. The creature is described as a “metal rat”. They got that right. A small appreciable detail. If CK Calvin Klein’s rat is a literary one, then Brooks Brothers’ affable-looking rodent is probably its sporty compatriot. Given a baseball cap with a pair of unmistakable double Bs, the nameless creature could be Yankee’s (Everyone’s Hero) avatar. To appeal to those who are partial to cyberpunk aesthetics and who care not to be auspicious, the Earn Chen-led (he who founded Surrender and Ambush, and now the guy behind Potato Head Folk)  Singaporean label, The Salvages, offers—at DSMS—a robotic rat with a menacing scowl and red eye. Even Starbucks isn’t leaving themselves out of the rat race, selling a coffee mug in the shape of a rather corpulent Rattus. Not all brands use solo rats. Also at DSMS, Nike’s special capsule features one T-shirts with a quintet of basketball-playing rats of the ’hood. But perhaps most fascinating is one by Doublet: there’s an embroidery of a rat on the chest. If you look closely,  you’d see a loose thread. I was told that if you pull it, the stitches will unravel, revealing an ox—a tee for two consecutive years!

It isn’t yet clear if the pick up rate for these ratty fashion will spike during the CNY shopping season. Frankly, I don’t really know the purpose of luxury brands getting into Chinese New Year symbolism other than to cash in. In fact, I don’t recall the wearing of clothes that feature the animal of the corresponding zodiac year to be common. It’s definitely not traditional! Come to think of it, I remember Marc Jacobs’s men’s wear used to have a mascot/logo featuring a rodent named Stinky Rat. Mr Jacobs had never deliberately released clothing bearing the creature during CNY. Does wearing one’s zodiac animal (or spirit animal?) make things a little more season-appropriate, a little more festive, a little more auspicious?

Ill will unintended, I don’t give a rat’s ass.

Editorial note: for convenience, I use ‘rat’ and ‘mouse’ interchangeably, probably to the annoyance of mammalogists, biologists, zoologists, and the like. Photos (unless indicated): Chin Boh Kay. 

Vetements Without Demna Gvasalia

You’ll hardly notice


Vetements AW 2020 P1

In earlier times—now forgotten, what Vetements proposes would be considered insufferably unattractive. But it’s 2020, and the ‘ugly’ trend is moving inexorably towards the end of its life (probably faster than streetwear). Yet, the Paris-based collective, now leader-less, isn’t changing gears. It’s driving steadily on a track it has laid: one that mall rats and those who live on a staple of vintage garb had previously laid out. It offers clothes people “want to wear” (already wearing?), just a little twisted and massively priced to be similar to, say, Balenciaga (which for a while seemed linked, at least aesthetically)—serious fashion pricing for mere vetements (clothing in French).

Some people think Vetements is admirable because it has not embraced “high fashion’s weighty concepts” but Demna Gvasalia’s former brand is based on the conceptual heft of the purposely low-brow, and rides on the very Noughties belief that ugly is nice, the hideous too. Even the uniform of your courier guy, offered with minimum design input from the manufacturer, can be fetching enough to adapt as the most haute article of clothing you could wear. Funnily, no one thought they were duped. Rather, they saw in the garments not parody, but irony, which, by 2016, was extremely marketable. Subsequently, no one could even tell subversion from scam.

Vetements AW 2020 G1Vetements AW 2020 G2

In 2018, Highsnobiety declared Vetements “dead”. This was a disturbing/divisive report, considering that, at that time, Vetements was just 4 years old (its debut in the a/w season of 2014 was presented as a look book shot in the apartment of Mr Gvasalia). Despite its anti-fashion (or anti-Parisian elegance/posturing) stance, Vetements was different enough yet oddly familiar since those awkward clothes looked like what you’ve seen in some neighborhoods or industrial parks that captured the imagination of a (mostly) young bunch of editors and influencers who had not, for a moment in their coddled lives, needed to look this alt, this oddly-fitted, this unappealingly appealing. They have never seen or been to those neighbourhoods and industrial parks. There was this chance to play the renegade without having to adopt what the punks did: tore up clothes and fasten them with safety pins. Vetements showed that fashion this anti could be well-made, well-distressed, so over-sized, and luxurious. Then Highsnobiety struck.

We can’t say for certain that Vetements is no longer saveur du jour. But we have heard, on the selling floor, that “nobody wants Vetements now.” Even less so without Demna Gvasalia? In the past, Mr Gvasalia had often stressed that Vetements is a “collective of designers”, which could mean that even without him, the label can soldier on. And what does a Vetements without the main man look like? Just as defiant, but tired. Six years after that apartment shoot, Vetements has not tossed out the want-to-make-every-day-bloke-cool vibe. Or, for the women, the same grit+glamour schtick. They continue to stab at fashion snobbery with blunt scissors.

Vetements AW 2020 G3Vetements AW 2020 G4

We weren’t at the show, so can’t say this for sure. but we imagine that, since attendees had to help light the runway with the flashlights on their smartphones, maybe they didn’t have time to busy themselves with social media? No show-to-IG immediacy. Could this slightly deferred transmission somehow minimise the still-banausic approach that is synonymous to both Vetements’s design and presentation? The styling for Vetements shows have mostly looked like costumes for a film about gritty, inner-city life, affording only occasional fashion quirks by those who are anti by circumstance. Even without its founding designer Demna Gvasalia, the brand still appears to straddle its suburban Georgian roots and inspiration and the collective’s separate starts at various luxury houses. Does anti still charm?

Till now, Vetements is considered to be “reworkings of wardrobe staples”, but whose staples? The present collection suggests those of security guards, pimps, and pai kias who share the same sartorial train home after the graveyard shift; the kids with their compulsory hoodies, who hog tables at Starbucks to study; the fashion students who think graduation can come when spending more on what they wear to class than on the materials needed to pass the class; the bengs and lians you meet every day, on the way to work. These are not clothes that will get people a job. Sure, some pieces are stylish, such as the ‘flat’ skirts, essentially two rectangles coming together, but if the wearers weren’t models and they came towards you in a group, walking as aggressively as they do in the show, you’d be afraid. Possibly, very afraid. Demna Gvasalia did leave his mark.

Photos: Filippo Fior/

His Soft Armour

Craig Green’s Paris debut proposes deconstructed straitjackets as supple protection. The clothes deserve all the accolades


Craig Green AW 2020 P1

One of London’s most original voices, Craig Green has decamped for Paris, the city every designer worth his salt gravitates to. He must know he’s ready to show alongside the city’s biggest names. Since his debut in 2015, Mr Green has been widely praised as a boy wonder of British men’s wear. And his climb has been, for the lack of better word, meteoric. He won British Menswear Designer thrice: in 2016, 2017, 2018. His designs, often not constricted and are sometimes inspired by Asian garbs such as the kimono and even monks robes, have influenced both emerging and established designers, including Virgil Abloh and, closer home, Amos Ananda Yeo.

For his first show outside London (excluding the Pitti Uomo presentation for spring/summer 2019), Mr Green offered a striking, confident, and forward collection, infused with every element one has come to associate with the label: relaxed shapes, unexpected quilting, and de rigueur free-to-flap straps, cords, and laces. Some of the horizontally quilted pieces look like bibs that, with straps, can be worn up and down the torso, in some cases under abbreviated knitted vests, and with what appear to be waist bags—similarly supple and padded. While, as a whole, there is newness (certainly against the tailoring that is pervading the other Paris collections), there is also classic Craig Green and, to us, not entirely surprising. That’s not a negative, but a nod to the clear DNA, defined enough for the brand to show abroad.

Craig Green AW 2020 G1Craig Green AW 2020 G2

Just as we thought Mr Green could not outdo himself any further after the first six ensembles that no doubt reach out to fans, he sent out tops (we can’t think of a name for them: shells?) that seem assembled by more straps and cords. A couple had smocked fronts, flanked by ruffles! Then, some compositions that look like they’re more suited to a window appear. In fact, these are ingenious outerwear composed of quilted pieces and padded panels that appear corded together and can be adjusted, we assume, for different visual effects.

Then, as if to confuse the viewer that this may not be an A/W collection, some vaguely futuristic, ropey mesh tops emerge, worn over bare skin, with sort of a filigree front that will surely intrigue the most dexterous boy scout. Mr Green likes doing things to fabrics. There are patchworks of symmetrical geometric shapes formed up as scrub-like tops and matching bottoms. Striking and easy to like, too, are the tunic tops and bottoms paired to yield a single, oversized flower running down the full-length of the garments. Just as remarkable are those outers that appear to be collages of pieces of rainwear and assorted bags!

Craig Green AW 2020 G3Craig Green AW 2020 G4

The final last four sets are akin to installation art, which is not at all alien to Mr Green’s hitherto 12 runway collections. Reportedly, the present is the final of a three-parter, exploring the idea of ‘skin’, which, as we see, need not adhere to the body. This quartet of indescribable clothes that seem destined for some design museum very soon, and has more in common with kites (an idea previously explored) than apparel illustrates Mr Green’s mastery at re-imagining what can be constructed and sewn. He applies the gossamer fabrics as deftly as a a master sculptor working with gold leaf: nothing appears to have fixed placement. And the resultant colours have a painterly quality about them. It isn’t clear if these would be bought and worn since they could be mistaken for a fancy food cover, but they’re fascinating to look at.

In Paris, a portentous year of the demise of what Supreme has been touting for close to a decade, Mr Green continues to offer clothes that defy categorising. But, if fashion are increasingly either streetwear (dying, remember?) or tailored styles, chances are, the young Londoner’s designs will be lumped with the former. This is, of course, unnecessary and unfair. The fashion world is large enough for either. Craig Green, quilting and padding in place, isn’t even straddling the two.

Photos:  Isidore Montag/


Raiding Mama’s Closet

At Loewe, boys play grown up by trying their mother’s clothes


Loewe AW 2020 P1

You’d think that Jonathan Anderson may not have any more of the delightfully off-beat under his sleeves after last A/W’s whimsical and resistance-is-futile collection, in particular the William De Morgan capsule and the magical knits. But no, he’s gone on to tackle an even harder subject (and a conundrum that won’t go away): guys who have their eyes on dresses. In particular, iridescent ones, better still if they’re of high fashion stock. Swiftly, Mr Anderson has moved from craft to couture.

From the first look, you know this is going to shake your sense of what constitutes modern masculinity in an already a-lot-less binary world: men in a dress. But Mr Anderson isn’t inclined to offer something so obvious. It’s only a suggestion of a man in a dress (there are, in fact, three of them): the models don’t actually wear one. From the front and in a flash, it sure looks like a dress—chintzy and gaudy, something you’d likely see at a hostess club or a prom—but they are each worn, with straps at the neck and waist, as an apron! It sure is a gotcha moment. Empowering, too? Or just an illusion?

Loewe AW 2020 G1Loewe AW 2020 G2

But that isn’t the end of it. These aren’t frocks worn for effect. A theme can soon be discerned. By the forth look—a Prada-worthy sweater with marabou collar and clam-diggers with marabou cuff—you know something is afoot. Then comes the tunics (that are actually worn like dresses), swing coats, and one with oversized shawl lapel, a couple with capes, pullovers with bejewelled shoulders and cuffs, blousy shirts, and more outerwear you’d see at a country club or what Bunny MacDougal might wear. It’s as if Mr Anderson has handed the entire pattern-making to the women’s wear team. We have not seen the clothes up-close, so we can’t say if the handling is like women’s wear too.

Sure, men in dresses are as new as them in skirts. And a dress held-up as a dress, and not actually worn is not novel either. Still, to see Mr Anderson send them down the runway for a house not his own—and once considered traditional—is a perhaps a little outré, although gender bending of even more extreme measure has happened elsewhere. A second viewing of the collection suggest to us that this isn’t merely allowing men to ape what women wear. These are not boys wanting to look like their sisters; they seem more enamoured with their mother’s wardrobe. Women’s old is men’s new.

Loewe AW 2020 G3Loewe AW 2020 G4

The clothing of women of a certain age and taste are tapped, not those who are enamoured with, say, Chanel or Jil Sander or, on the other end of the aesthetic spectrum, Comme des Garçons. That the frumpy femininity and potential bad drag need to be played down by putting the guys in boots (nary a pair of sneakers!) and belts of chunky chains (Louis Vuitton Men!) or fringing made with them suggests, perhaps, that for men to adopt female garb without appearing to really cross gender lines, some form of counterpoint is crucial, some cancelling out of camp cliches compulsory. Au courant is when you dress like a woman, but not as one.

Accessories, therefore, come to play: elephantine ones. The bags, quite literally! The proboscidea-shaped carry-alls (the elephant is already a ‘traditional’ animal shape at Loewe) are likely going to be a major hit (on IG, for sure), with iridescent/studded ones worthy of a maharajah’s wardrobe. Not since Thom Browne’s simple-by-comparison dog-bag—inspired by his dachshund Hector and still in production—has there been a bag shaped after mammals that is so unlike those kitty kits that tend to make it to handbag shelves, making it both conversation-starter and potential social-media star. What to make of all this? Are guys really going to wear dresses, and carry elephant bags henceforth? We really don’t know.

Photos: Loewe

Louis Vuitton Pares Down

Virgil Abloh’s three-month break from work is possibly what he needed for LV


LV Men AW 2020 P1

The first thing that struck us about the Louis Vuitton show this season is the vaguely surreal in-the-sky set. Somewhere in the middle, among sewing paraphernalia, is a giant scissors; its blades placed apart, as if about to cut something. We at SOTD are rather traditional and we tend to be mindful of placing sharp and pointed blades in all settings, including stagings meant to show off luxury goods in the hope of generating good tidings. Fengshui practice often encourage adherents to avoid incorporating sharp edges in any given space so as not to bring on sha qi (杀气 or aura of death/the inauspicious). Blades of scissors ajar, it is believed, will cut any good luck or good qi that may be present. An American and a French company, of course, may not concern themselves with such believes, but we noticed.

Perhaps the scissors is symbolic of Mr Abloh snipping off the superfluous, the over-designed, the duds. After a good rest, it appears he has decided to rethink his approach for Louis Vuitton, the ardent embracer of what Mr Abloh stood for. He is playing down garments that he and his pal Kanye West were instrumental in promoting: those that require not the rigours of tailoring. Now, the show opened with slim-fit suits—all seemingly simple, and while they might be refreshing for Mr Abloh’s LV, it was, to us, a revisit. Is it Dior (Homme) under Kris van Assche’s watch? Did the khaki suit not say Jil Sander to us? Or, if we care to go further back, the black-and-white combo Helmut Lang?

LV Men AW 2020 G1LV Men AW 2020 G2

To be sure, Mr Abloh was a proponent of tailoring when he took the creative reigns at LV Men. He did put out suits in what observers thought was an attempt to prove that he could do fashion, specifically at the luxury level. But there was something not quite right about the early attempts. Contrived comes to mind; also tried too hard. The tailoring was, naturally competent, but it was, more significantly, without the youthful insouciance that today’s suits would benefit from. It was not an Hedi Slimane moment.

But Mr Abloh persevered. And the suits are now witnessing some vestige of maturity, the proverbial express, not impress, and a restrain that is welcome when seen against his tendency to subscribe to a grandiose scheme of things. He is, perhaps, only practising what he has recently preached. When asked, in an interview with Dazed last month, how streetwear will evolve in 2020, Mr Abloh said, “I would definitely say it is gonna die”. But does death to streetwear immediately means living to suits? Apparently. While that line of thought might be reductive, we can’t say Mr Abloh does not try to at least be interesting.

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The holster, first accessory, now appearing as part of the suit jacket, will no doubt allow the whole garment be the curious retail joy known as a hit. There is the pants with what should be the end of the vest now appearing as part of the waist, possibly an irremovable cummerbund. And everything between that appears subtle and sleek. All seems fine and dandy until the pieced-together jackets appeared. We don’t want to be too quick to assume, so we waited, and there it was, a coat with a shirt built onto the front. Now, to us, a garment on a garment (and the former mostly decorative), as well as irregular shapes joined to form suits—and ruffles (one formed up as a peplum!)—has more than a mere whiff of Comme des Garçons. Virgil Abloh, tell us we’re reading too much.

After only four seasons at LV, Mr Abloh is considered such a seasoned pro that he probably thinks he does not need to prove that he can—still a contentious point—design. Why even bother? Just do whatever you like, with stops in the past and nods to your idols, and then throw in rapper styles in the form of a shaggy fur coat for good measure. One man’s fur coat is another man’s streetwear. Ditto suits. Thing is, in 2020 will a suit, however pleasing, change the course of history? Perhaps for some, their history-making luck will remain intact. Or, uncut.

Photos: (top) screen grab of LV live stream/(runway) Alessandro Lucioni/

The Anti-Fit Firmly In Place At Gucci

Forget about clothes that sit nicely on the body. Gucci is telling you to go too small or too big


Gucci Men AW 2020 P1

It is a matter of time, isn’t it, when the oversized will share the runway with the undersized? Just like black would meet white, masculine would encounter feminine, Tarzan would make contact with Jane. Now that roomier-than-normal has gone mainstream and seems to beat the tailored fit as the look to adopt, Gucci has taken the opposite, proving that even in sizing, what goes up must come down—really down.

But Alessandro Michele did not resuscitate the baby tees of the ’90s; he actually put out clothes that appear to be too small for the wearer or didn’t grow with him. One shirt, in particular, stood out: it is so tight, it won’t button up, leaving a placket with gapes. Another, a sweater that appeared before this, is short at both the hemline of the bodice and sleeve (emblazoned across the chest, humourlessly, the words “MON PETIT”—my little, in French), exactly like those worn by the kid who grew too quickly for his clothes. Could this be fashion finally owning up to the fact that, just as there are those boys who won’t accept adult responsibilities as they mature, as identified by Dr Dan Kiley in his seminal 1983 book Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Never Grow Up, there are men who won’t don adult clothing as they age?

Gucci Men AW 2020 G1

Either that or the clothes are too big, not in the least oversized, as we (still) see at, say, Balenciaga, but really the wrong size. Plaid shirts hang on the body as loosely as the knit vest worn over it, both with the sharpness of discards consigned to the Salvation Army, T-shirts that are too baggy, look, as the chest tells us, “impotent”; military jackets so large, the quartermaster probably wanted you to look this foolish, and jeans so much bigger than the waist, they look like part of contributions for flood victims.

It is’t immediately clear what this challenge to proper sizing might be. You sense that this is ridiculous having a fashion moment. It begs one question: how will Gucci train its sales staff to respond when a customer, emerging from the fitting room (are they necessary anymore?), asks, ”Is this my size? Is it a nice fit? Do I look good?”

Some members of the media describe this as Gucci “re-inventing masculinity”. Really? Smocked, bib-front auntie blouse on a male torso, with chest hair sprouting out of the V-shaped neckline befits the new man? In earlier days, that would have been called half-drag. And we don’t mean that as a form of shamming. Only now, with things being less (not?) binary, we somehow think a guy in a top that would look better on his primary school daughter is somehow better at representing male sartorial flair. Disruption is not necessarily fashion. And, let’s not tag this as irony; we’ve left the last decade.

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Sometimes one wonders if Mr Michele’s strategy is one of mere irreverence to affect discomfiture by taking something as unremarkable as a vintage-y girl’s blouse and putting it on a grown man. Pairing they call it, but on their own, the blouse/dress—and the military-surplus-looking pants (one with hole in the left knee!) that they go with—could be found in any weekend market, from Clignancourt to Chatuchak. However clever, however hi-brow the reference, however deep in shock value (or wrecking of nerves), this is really akin to what participants of Rupaul’s Drag Race already/usually wear before the race.

This season, Mr Michelle also riffs off the late Franco Moschino who riffed off Chanel. That and, surprisingly, Marc Jacobs interpreting, well, Marc Jacobs interpreting whoever. Mr Michell is known as a godown of immeasurable reference points and a willing mixer of disparate elements, historical or not, pop or not, good or not. This autumn/winter 2020 show at Milan’s Palazzo Delle Scintille has a giant, Miley-Cyrus-missing wrecking ball of a pendulum swinging menacingly in the centre of the presentation space. What was Gucci really aiming at, but did not gain a hit?

Photos: Gucci

Urban Characters

…encircling a man on a horse. But don’t take anything literally. It’s Prada


20-01-15-21-01-30-373_deco.jpgPrada has always been concerned with attitudes, consumption, or the state of the world than fashion itself. It does not succumb to trends—we don’t remember it did. If anything they show turns out to be trendy, coincidence is more likely than calculation. The Prada man, defined from the first collection in 1993, hitherto seems more inclined to express his outlook on the changing world he lives in than through clothes per se. Sure, Miuccia Prada has made certain clothing uniquely Prada—the relaxed suits, the retro coats, the camp shirts—but they do not place the wearer on trend-specific grounds. Yet, you know he’s a creature of fashion, uniquely so.

This season, that indefinable fashion man appears. He’s of the modern world, but he is also a part of the world of art, of the affluent, of the countryside, hipsterdom, of corporate life, of blockchain, of lounging, of clubbing, of social media, of whatever that now makes a man a man. Watching the presentation, show-goers look down into a piazza, which could be like how the audience once viewed the action at the Colosseum. Could this too have been a The Matrix moment, when the Neos of the world avoids the Agents in a sea of brisk-waking humanity?

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We admit we are reading too much into a collection that may not have been conceived for decoding. Well, we don’t  know what that cardboard sculpture of a man on a horse means either. But does that that really matter? Do men communicate the same ideas as Miuccia Prada when they don the clothes she designs? The thing is, Prada’s collection seduces the mind. It send signals to the brain, rather than the heart, and leaves a clear message: we want the clothes; we want to look like that!

That, to us, mean a certain veering off the standard, the classic, the recognisable, but not teleporting to another planet. We like that the suits are unmistakable, yet not one that you are expected to wear to a boardroom meeting, untethered to a digital world. We like the coats that are a little large and boxy, but not to the point that you could be mistaken for a filial son unwilling to discard the clothes he inherited from his father. Or, a member of a delegate bound for a UN meeting. We like the mis-match, off-beat styling—a sort of Pee-wee-Herman-found-modern-fashion vibe. We like the pajama-styles, with those repeated-pattern prints only Prada dares to propose and present; we’d wear them to that boardroom meeting!

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And there are the colours—not your Arrow shirt palette. Rather, those that seem picked from a chart for wall paint. It is totally imaginable seeing Miuccia Prada selecting colours from that than from a Pantone guide, just as she had from wallpaper swatches for prints. The orange (or burnt sienna?), the greens, the blues in cool tones that, when mixed, appear deeper and bolder, and even a tad mismatched, which make them even more appealing because the energy transmitted have the same potency and calm as, say, an Edward Hopper painting. That they are welcome alternatives to only-all-black-is-truly-fashionable underscore how the chromatically off-beat too can sit alongside the sooty and glum to communicate sartorial edge.

This collection shows Prada to be in fine form. Typical of the brand (which will bring a smile to fans), there’s the nod to the past just as there is the embrace of the present, or the sportif and the semi-formal, the nondescript and the eye-catching, the rural and the urban, the skinny and the oversized, the sleeved and the sleeveless the plain and the plaid, the cool and the goofy. Enough extremes to ensure a guy in 2020 does not need to choose the mainstream.

Photos: Prada

Street Players Meet

This is no collab with Supreme. Some of you might be delighted. 😀


CDG X Stussy SS2020 P1

By Ray Zhang

For the Comme des Garçons sub-brand CDG’s first collaboration, the three-letter label chose not the obvious or those the main line had paired with before, but one, although now trending, isn’t immediately the name to sing a duet with: Stussy. Yet come together they did, like Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

I am not at all clear what the end game might be, but it looks like this pairing is going to allow two very different brands to sing their way to their individual banks—gleefully. Stussy, possibly flushed by the high that came from its founder’s collaborating with Dior two months ago, is a surf-turn-street-wear brand currently being rediscovered by a new gen of fashion folks and celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. CDG, interestingly hashtagged “CDGCDG on social media and “CDGCDGCDG for their web address” (wouldn’t we recognise that as kiasuism?), is possibly the most street of the main label’s many sub-brands. In that sense, it is possibly a match made in heaven.

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Frankly, I am not quite sure I see Stussy or CDG in this sole release: a unisex varsity jacket in heavy and coarse melton wool, lined with (presumably polyester) satin, and appliquéd on the left sleeve with chenille patches of a distinctive Comme des Garçons perfume bottle (Concrete, maybe?) sandwiched vertically between a jacket and a pair of pants, and on the right, a bucket hat and a T-shirt. At the back, a much larger patch depicting a stylised surfer holding a CDG-branded surf board. The media release says that the jacket “nods to the past without losing sight of the future”. Hmmm… a future together?

Those of us hoping to find in this collaboration some spirit of either brand might be disappointed. I don’t know who this is really for. One Comme des Garçons “please, I-buy-only-the-runway-pieces” addict told me the varsity jacket is “definitely” not for him. We concurred: CDG, the label, is not exactly shorthand for the main line’s outre looks. Rather it is to maximise profits with and to entice those shoppers who care only about logos, and prominently positioned ones. This varsity jacket, too. If, however, price is a concern (and I understand), one can always pick the Hanes T-shirts—they’re also a collaboration and are always available.

The Stussy X CDG varsity jacket, SGD570, is available at Dover Street Market Singapore. Photos: Dover Street Market

Two Of A Kind: Body Armour

One of these is 37 years late!

Tom Ford vs issey Miyake

(Left) Tom Ford’s breastplate. Photo: Alessandro Lucioni/ (Right) Issey Miyake’s fibreglass bustier. Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

We know which came first. But now, for most present-day fashion consumers, original ideas are so oft-repeated by others that the memory of those that came before the latter becomes hazy. The cover of the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar features a square-jawed Gwyneth Paltrow in a Tom Ford top that the magazine described as “anatomical breastplate”. Which, we suppose, is the antithesis of what the Scorpion King wears—not body-regardful; no breast, no plate!

What’s interesting to us—actually, annoying—is that Miss Goop, who sells candles called This Smells Like My Vagina (seriously!), appears in Mr Ford’s hard top as if she is some high priestess of style, ahead of everyone else in adopting a cropped cuirass with asymmetric hemline as #OOTD, when she is not, and is really posing as Pepper Potts in an incomplete Iron Man Armor MK 1616 (later known as Rescue). Ms Paltrow may be a red carpet fave when it comes to award-night dressing, but she’s hardly a fashion leader in the same league as, say, actor-added-to-her-resume Lady Gaga.

768February issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Photo: Harper’s Bazaar

The remembrance certainty of our digital life perhaps does not go far back enough. In the subsequent media reports of Ms Paltrow’s “cyborg style”, nary a mention of one Japanese designer, who, back in 1980/81, created a bustier that at that time was inconceivable: it was made of fibreglass. Now a collectible and a museum exhibit, appearing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion; 2016/27), the Museum at FIT (Love and War: The Weaponized Woman; 2006), , and an unlikely National Gallery of Australia (museum collection), among others, as well as the 1983—1985 Issey Miyake travelling exhibition Bodyworks, in which it was a star attraction, together with another vest made of rattan by the Hayaman bamboo artist Kosuge Shochikudo..

Sure, breastplates were worn by men since Greco-Roman times, but for women that has this particular aesthetic and sheen, we credit only Issey Miyake. It is not clear if Mr Ford’s version is homage to one of the pioneer Japanese designers who showed in Paris in the ’70s/’80s or his very own idea (yes, hard to imagine), but it is rather puzzling that no one saw the similarly. If Ms Paltrow couldn’t see it, well, could we really blame her? She was eight when Mr Miyake thought of making a bustier with a peplum out of a synthetic polymer; she wouldn’t know what that is, or that clothes, like people, could be just as plastic.