White Mountaineering showed their desirable outdoorsy womenswear… outdoors. Where else?
Just days after announcing their collaboration with Uniqlo, to the delight of fans (our post was one of the most viewed of the month), White Mountaineering showed their womenswear spring/summer 2022 collection during Tokyo’s Rakuten Fashion Week. It’s the brand’s first presentation in their home city in nine years (they’ve been showing in Paris), staged in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden that dates back to the Edo-period, and one of the largest koens (公園) in Tokyo, just 10 minutes from Shinjuku Station. The easy-looking pieces welcomed the outdoor, just as they did in the men’s spring/summer 2022 collection, but rather than having the models navigate a mountain trail, the women scrolled down a garden path that, like remote elevations, had no visitors. Some may think that this is making it easier for the female models, but could White Mountaineering also be saying that their womenswear is better suited for the manicured, rather than the wild outdoors?
Designer Yosuke Aizawa, as we know, has a thing for outdoor wear. Passion would be a better word. But Mr Aizawa is not creating another The North Face. Rather, he is adept at melding different categories, styles, and parts of dress into an unexpected whole. Workwear meets outerwear meets river togs meet mountain gear in a happy, sometimes intriguing mingle. Femininity remain high on the agenda while the focus is on utility and functionality. Mr Aizawa is not opposed, for example, to allow a slit to go thigh-high or for the navel to be clearly seen. He has taken the potential frumpiness out of outdoor wear and given the collection the sexiness of ‘gorpcore’. And in all likelihood, for the women who are enamoured with White Mountaineering—and there are many, these clothes are as comfortable for working in an office as they would be for walking in the park.
Mr Aizawa worked with a lot of black this time, and some army greens. The chromatic darkness (save a fruit tree-printed tank dress, worn over a straight skirt!) does not quite appear to be a cheery collection for warmer days, especially in the garden known for its cherry blossoms, come spring. This is made more so when the layering does not look like a breezy affair, not the just-throw-on-a-cotton-voile-shirt kind. The jackets, also vests, are more for fashion survivalists than climbing enthusiasts. For those familiar with White Mountanineering, this is understandable and a good thing: Mr Aizawa has a way with outerwear, even when he is not designing those for going up-mountain. And it is our understanding that he sells these well, for both men and women. And these hardy-looking outers’ outdoorsy looks are teamed with gathered skirts, roomy trousers, knee-length shorts. The jackets and the like—even with pouch pockets and utilitarian straps (no paracords!)—immediately shed their non-oppidan vibe.
This collection only serves to heighten the anticipation of White Mountaineering’s collaboration with Uniqlo this season. Based on what we have gathered so far (and this may not be totally true yet), the capsule will feature mostly outerwear or, those “created as a common language for everyone”, as White Mountaineering announced last month. Uniqlo, of course, retails some of the handsomest jackets and kindred garb for colder climes, and often at irresistible prices. With White Mountaineering in the picture, some of Uniqlo’s already sophisticated ‘outers’ will get a welcome update. Many of us are possibly not travelling this year, but investing in good protective wear is never a bad idea. And since both brands veer towards the practical and wearable, longevity is on offer too. White Mountainering’s just-shown collection simply provide additional temptation.
Photos: White Mountaineering