Gently Ganryu Goes

Ganryu SS 2017 Pic 1Denim ensemble of Ganryu spring/summer 2017. Photo: Fashionsnap

By Ray Zhang

Sad, but apparently true: Ganryu, as we know it, shall be no more.

One of the quietest of what BOF calls the “children of Comme des Garçons”, Ganryu Fumito is reported to have closed his eponymous line. According to the Canadian online streetwear stockist Haven, “The Spring/Summer 2017 collection marks the final releases of Fumito Ganryu’s Comme des Garçons imprint Ganryu.” This was confirmed three days ago when Highsnobiety broke the news that, according to a CDG representative, Mr Fumito has left the company.

Launched in 2007 under the CDG umbrella and the auspices of its owners, Ganryu has been the go-to label for those of us who desire everyday clothes that are not too casual and not too Gucci-ish in their need to be visually intrusive. In fact, Ganryu is a respectful sibling that has made CDG one big, happy, avant-garde-leaning family.

The label’s closure is surprising to me because it seems to be doing fairly well in Tokyo, where it has its own free-standing spaces in Hankyu Men and the now-closed-for-rebuilding Parco in Shibuya. The line is also available in CDG’s own stores, as well as Dover Street Market. It saddens me to think that Ganryu’s final collection may not be stocked at DSMS when the latter opens here in July.

Fumito GanryuGanryu Fumito in a sitting for an interview for Oki-Ni

Moreover, Ganryu has been popular among those for whom CDG was getting a tad too successful for its own good. Apparently, the numbers are not large enough for Ganryu to sustain its slightly off-beat but ultimately wearable clothes. A former pattern-cutter for Junya Watanabe, Mr Fumito’s designs have the technical finesse not usually evident in the collections of American streetwear labels, and is more playful (and more attractively priced) than the output of his previous boss. I am especially drawn to the traditional silhouettes within which Mr Fumito works his unexpected pairing of elements, as well as graphical patchwork and stitch work.

Ganryu has been described as streetwear. It is true to a point, but it isn’t street in the convention of, say, Hood by Air (now in hiatus) or Off-White (now the new HBA. Interestingly, Mr Abloh told style.com in 2013 that “streetwear has a one-trick-ponyness to it”). I see its aesthetic more akin to work wear, but tweaked, as CDG-linked brands are inclined to be, for a more fashion-forward audience. Like Sacai, whose designer Abe Chitose is a CDG alumna, Ganryu is proficient in hybrid looks. A jacket, for example, isn’t a vanilla interpretation; it could be an amalgam of hunting and biker wear. Or, a T-shirt could sport oversized pockets usually associated with the parka. Split personality to me: that’s why I am a fan.

What Ganryu Fumito will do next, no one, accept the man, knows. I hope he will go solo as former pattern makers at CDG, Junichi Abe (of Kolor) and his wife Chitose Abe, did, and successfully too. Despite the alleged rise of Korean designers, the world still needs the Japanese to keep fashion forward and infinitely interesting. Ganryu may no longer be a child of Comme des Garçons, but it will never lose the DNA of beguiling creativity. I, and many others, shall wait for your comeback.

In Time For The Holidays

dsms

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”.

dsms-p2

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.

vetements-x-reebok

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”!

 

If It Does Not Suit You, Drop It

Balenciaga Men SS 2017 Pic 1

It’s a confounding time to be a fashion consumer; confounding is the time indeed. Just as you thought that the autumn/winter collections are in the stores, informed as you were by those heavier fabrics and too-covered-up styles, a salesperson throws you off by announcing that it’s “pre-season”. And if you show surprise because, just next door, a sprightly seller was showing you the “latest autumn winter” threads, she comes back with “we have many seasons and now is pre-season.”

Just like that, you feel you’re not with the times. The vis-à-vis encounter has rendered your idea of weather-appropriate, as opposed to seasonal, clothing kaput. Fashion, more than climate, has succumbed to the vageries of the four seasons. Those simply dry and wet that characterise this part of the world mean nothing. If AccuWeather is to be believed, it’s 32°C out there, where the RealFeal® is 41. Yet, inside a mall, where the temperature, if you’re lucky, may be 26 degrees, a salesperson will try to sell you a heat trap otherwise known as a fully-lined jacket.

Fashion has, since the ’80s—when imported European fashion began to appear in large numbers—induced us to consume in seasons. Local retailers too have been eager to tout autumn/winter as a valid retail term, except that consumers aren’t really keeping track of the seasons. It’s so damned hot out there, goes the common complain.  But it’s been like that since January! Does autumn/winter in June makes sense, however important keeping abreast of the trends is?

Balenciaga Men SS 2017 Pic 2The oversized suit jacket of Balenciaga Men spring/summer 2017

Fashion seasons nowadays come in and out more regularly than rain. In June alone, we’re inundated with news on the Cruise Collections, which regaled us with clothes shown in far-away locales or dark religious arcades. Then, in the stores, the autumn/winter 2016 collections arrive, and in others, the pre-season. This excitement at retail level bubbles while reports of the men’s spring/summer 2017 shows break incessantly.

Confounding, too, it would be for men who consume fashion. Before they can digest what’s key in the upcoming season or recall what fashion trends have been given the top ten positions, they’re now told to keep in mind the key looks for spring/summer next year. Sure, chances of seeing these clothes as early as December are high, but who’s really even thinking of Christmas when the financial year is nowhere near close? Will we one day need an IMDB-style app to help us recall which designer did what, when?

Now that Balenciaga’s first men’s wear show in its 99-year history was staged, so many media outlets are hailing the return of the suit as if it had gone to war, captured as POW, and now released. Sure, the suits in one collection are so plentiful (19 of 34 looks) that, in a season that witnessed the blouson and its ilk reign supreme, they appear to be having a Giorgio Armani-in-the-Eighties moment. But these are not the suits many have been weaned on; these are not those worn with the ease of a cardigan. Unconventional has been the general description of Demna Gvasalia’s first men’s collection for the house of Balenciaga, but that does not cover weird.

Balenciaga Men SS 2017 Pic 3Even the coats are cut room, just the like the jackets

What are conspicuously strange are those boxy, shoulders-extended suit jackets. A scale that can be described as zoot suit on steroids. Perhaps Mr Gvasalia has taken into account the changing shapes of men’s gym-produced bodies, or maybe he’s re-shaping because shape and form are integral to the Balenciaga legacy. The silhouettes, however, seemed to be based on cardboard boxes than flat paper patterns. Could they be homage to Professor Utonium (Powerpuff Girls) or, to go a little further back, Professor Nut-Meg (Felix the Cat)? Or to cater to Silicon Valley, where a geek may need a suit to attend his first tech award?

It should be noted that in the casting for the show, Balenciaga has picked mainly young white men of perhaps Eastern European stock. The operative words are young and white. The suits seem to be conceived for a populace in the European continent where kids can make even the strangest garb look oddly attractive. For us Asians, a jacket of such roominess and lapels that have grandfather written all over them is evocative of those that are made in Chinese factories still unshackled from their proletarian roots, and are worn by former military men now installed as head of commercial enterprises, building business empires, blissfully unaware of a sartorially changed world.

There is, of course, a whiff of the aesthetic of the Eastern Bloc’s winsome years that is pervasive in the designs of two dominant forces in men’s wear today: one a Georgian and the other Russian. Nothing inherently wrong in that itself, but can such culture-specific references cross borders, even if we’re supposed to believe that fashion is a borderless world?

Balenciaga Men SS 2017 Pic 4The other extreme: ultra-fitted suits

Change is good, we’ve been told, but not all changes are palatable or even digestible. Balenciaga has no real DNA for its men’s wear. Each designer since Nicolas Ghesquière has tried creating its own lasting codes only to be shattered by the next. Mr Gvasalia is not obligated to continue from the last, now-forgotten look. The aim, it seems, is to create seismic change, as seen at other fashion houses. Heritage is immaterial. Who’s talking about Tom Ford’s legacy at Gucci when Alessandro Michele is making (tidal) waves? Even Balenciaga is emancipated from Nicolas Ghesquière’s significant contributions to the revival of the brand. It’s now really about what Demna Gvasalia can bring to the table, and what he can do to capture the attention of an easily sidetracked and loyalty-uncommon world. Likeability is not as important as newsworthy.

Offering two extremes is the way Balenciaga could hit the headlines, or sent social media agog with wild excitement. The severity of jackets with strong shoulders and roomy body has to have a counterpoint in the form of constricted ultra-slim suits. These slender numbers should appeal to those with a penchant for everything skinny. It caters to an existing market, but does it really? On the models, the strange fit of the jacket—the sleeve kisses the shoulder bumpily and also oddly and the foldover of the double-breasted bodice nearly reaches the side of the torso—could be something new or something borrowed from the always too-tight jackets worn by lead actors of K-drama. That is two-pronged too!

Yes, fashion changes, so do shapes of clothes, but knock in vain we shall not on a wardrobe that won’t spill the content to make us look good. However confounding the times, well turn out is key, not looking foolish too, even if, regrettably, they are radical idea these days.

Photos: Balenciaga

Two Of A Kind: Not-Private Parts

Rick Owens vs Raf SImons

Left: Rick Owens, autumn/winter 2015/16. Right: Raf Simons spring/summer 2017

Are they the same thing: showing your family jewels in the flesh and via a photographic image? Are they in the same way pornographic, equally shameless, just as obscene? Or are they, as one media outlet suggests, the “art of pride”?

No, we’re not talking cock. At the just-concluded Pitti Uomo Show in Florence, guest designer—there were four this year—Raf Simons showed, among many black and white images, close-ups of the male genitalia, affixed to various parts of his clothes. Although these were mostly worn under outerwear (except one jacket, now making the rounds on the Web), the photographs were unmistakable: you couldn’t see anything else other than sexual organs.

The photographs are the works of American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Although not described as such by Mr Simons, many consider this as homage to the late artist who was known for his nudes of men and women as much as his still life of flowers. According to the designer, he was approached by Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to explore the possibility of using the photographs in Mr Simons’s designs.

Since we are not permanent residents of Disneyland, we didn’t think that by saying yes, Mr Simons was simply going to do a couple of pretty photo-prints on T-shirts. Ever the provocateur, he wasn’t going to settle for a few merely “artistic” images either. Watching the presentation on YouTube, we were wondering when a penis will pop out, and it sure did.

This, for some of you, may be déjà vu since last year in January, Rick Owens showed men with exposed crotch under tunics, cut to barely cover that daylight-shy area. Social media went wild and, unsurprisingly, birthed the hashtag #dickowens. Yesterday’s peepshow is today’s full boner, but if a fully aroused schlong is only a mouse/screen click away, is wearing an erection on one’s shirt tale even shocking at all?

If only fifteenth century men could teleport themselves to the present, they would be able to see how redundant the codpiece could have been! Didn’t Robert Mapplethorpe himself say, “Beauty and the devil are the same thing”?

Questing After The Authentic

Gosha Rubchinsky SS 2017Gosha Rubchinskiy spring/summer 2017. Photos: Gosha Rubchinskiy

By D Y Yun

I understand and I totally relate to Gosha Rubchinskiy’s work. I appreciate the severity of his designs. I am into his brand of (retro) Red aesthetic. His spring/summer 2017, shown in Pitti Uomo last week, was a big pull for me.

Detractors may say that his co-opting of old-school sports clothes is humourless and without wit. I on the other hand, consider it an overdue counterpoint to the OTT visual bent of many Italian men’s wear brands that has been feeding the staggering rise of the fashion peacock.

Mr Rubchinskiy was invited to show at Pitti Uomo as a guest designer. In the city of Florence, home of Gucci, he could have tried to outdo them all by presenting something that would have done the the legacy of the Medicis proud. Instead, he went to put on a show that was a nod “To Paolo Pier”.

Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini was a divisive figure during his lifetime. An author-turned-film-maker communist, Pasolini was especially concerned about those he called “sub-proletariat”—the socially- and economically-disadvantaged working class thought not to able to achieve anything and is a possible hindrance to an egalitarian society.

Franco Citti in AccattoneFranco Citti (right), who died in January this year, played the title character in Pasolini’s Accattone. Photo: Arco Film/Cino del Duca

In his debut 1961 film Accattone, Pasolini, together with the then relatively unknown young poet, Bernardo Bertolucci as assistant, showed the dismal lives of pimps and prostitutes, with thieves thrown in for good measure, so as to underscore the sad predicament of the individuals of the title, a slang term that refers to those who do not do well, and are afflicted by indolence and, as a consequence, cannot stay on a job.

The film does not credit a costume designer, but the gritty realism of rough, young men wanting to look good without being too concerned with the vagaries of fashion has its appeal. To me, it pairs with Mr Rubchinskiy’s fixation with a Russian visual style that came before today’s religion of consumerism. Both reflect beauty at its most earnest, just as those Olympics trainees and participants of the past that the designer loves to evoke, who wore what were given to them without self-consciousness, only ready-to-compete élan.

Calling it authentic may be banal to some of you, but I do consider the sportsmen-of-yore aesthetic of Mr Rubchinskiy—so oppositional to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo—exactly that. These look like actual sports clothes, only worn on non-sporting grounds. Not for Mr Rubchinsky, those purported athletic wear put out by hip-hop stars that have never played enough sports to know what is truly performance-enhancing.

In keeping with his preference for unsung labels, Mr Rubchinsky chose to work with Italian sports brands that have been overtaken by others whose image have presently been defined by celebrities and social media stars. His pick were Fila, Kappa and Sergio Tacchini. These are brands still with house codes that hark back to an era not swayed by “influencers”, when fashion was not a priority.

NIke Tennis ClassicNikeLab Tennis Classic CS “Nai Ke’’. Photo: Dover Street Market

Gosha Rubchinskiy’s pursuit of what I call sportif ancien connects to my own quest for athletic wear that we rarely see nowadays. It explains my attraction to, for instance, Nikelab’s “Nai Ke” (its name in Chinese) reiteration of its Tennis Classic. Released in collaboration with Dover Street Market London, the shoe has a whiff of what I seek: a touch of non-fashion as seen in the old PE uniforms worn by Chinese-medium institutions before SAP (Special Assistance Plan) schools came into being in 1978.

It’s not only the heel tab’s Chinese characters (a language choice still considered by certain quarters as “cheena” while not negating that the term is derogatory) that’s striking, but also a certain honest plainness that I find appealing. Lest I am mistaken, this is not Normcore; this is trend-resistant. Nike can make the coolest Air Jordans, but it chose to output something so Chinese Middle School of the ’60s. That means something.

In Beijing, where I had spent some time a few years back, I would go to old sporting goods stores to unearth basketball jerseys and track tops that had some semblance to what the Chinese athletes wore when China participated in the Olympics as Republic of China (1932 to 1948), not People’s Republic of China as it does now.

Shopping on Taobao may be where the retail action is, but I enjoy digging in “institutional” stores such as Tianyuan Lisheng (利生体育用品商厦) in Wangfujing, a four-story store that, in pre-market economy days, was probably considered mega. Although more than half of its stocks comprise of those by major Western brands, there are plentiful that will probably fail in the eyes of Boost addicts. Here, amid old-school, if not old-time, sports clothes, I feel I could be the basketball captain I never was. Even if briefly.