Is It Still Cool To Wear Yeezys?

Following the end of the relationship between Adidas and Kanye West, reports have emerged of objectionable work environment in the Yeezy/Adidas office in California and elsewhere. Are Yeezys still the footwear to be seen in?

A young chap in Adidas Yeezy Slides

By Awang Sulung

Yeezy is over. At least from Adidas’s side of the story, the name is. There are reports that Adidas will release non-Yeezy Yeezys next year. I am not sure if Kanye West is able to continue using the Yeezy name, but I am certain that is the least of his problems. There is still YZY. And, possibly a YZY SZN 10. No Yeezy Days? How about Donda Days? There is Donda Sports, Mr West’s managing agency that represents athletes in branding deals (and they sell stuff, like a hoodie, a pair of shorts and socks, all marked on the website ‘sold out’!). And don’t forget Ye, a name waiting to be slapped on merchandise. If Adidas continues to sell the designs that came about under Yeezy, but without that tainted name, will they still hold any appeal? Is Yeezy the same if it is not Yeezy? I mean, do sneakerheads want them if they look like Yeezys but are just Adidas? Does Adidas Boost 350 V2 have the same ring, even if you know which Yeezy shoe it is? Yes, questions there are, but, frankly, no easy answers.

Two months have past after the news that Adidas potong-ed ties with Kanye West, and a tumultuous year is near the end. Oddly, in a single day, I saw two separate guys wearing Adidas Yeezy Slides—yes, the one Mr West accused the German sportswear giant of “copying”. And in the following week, I saw more. All of them walking with considerable swagger. I think the colour of those slides I saw is the one former Adidas Yeezy (or Mr West? Was he involved in colour-naming?) called “Pure”. Oddly, all of them in that pale shade. On those occasions, I was not sure if I saw anything that wholesome. If bigotry has a colour, might it be that? Those anti-Semitic rants are still kind of fresh (let’s not even talk about his interview with Alex Jones!). And Mr West (I’ll still refer to him as that since he has always been Kanye West, the rapper, to me) has not showed that he is regretful, let alone remorseful, even planning to run for president of the US, again, totally unconcerned that what he spewed before would haunt him on the campaign trail, possibly now not trodden by Yeezys.

Another fellow in the same slide

Warning: the following contains words and descriptions some readers may find offensive

Recap: But what is more disturbing is the news that emerged, revealing the kind of boss and creative head Mr West was while steering the design and production of Yeezys. According to a report by Rolling Stones (they spoke to former staffers who requested anonymity), the rapper-designer was in a constant state of flux, even “pure chaos”. One informer told the magazine: ““It was the most hectic and chaotic experience of my life [and] career.” But poor managerial and operational skills aside, Mr West is described as a belligerent boss, and one inclined to show his sexual side even at work. Another report, headlined Kanye West Used Porn, Bullying, ‘Mind Games’ to Control Staff alleged that in one design meeting, Mr West was displeased with the shoes shown to him. He approached a senior female staffer and said to her, “I want you to make me a shoe I can fuck.” At other meetings with executives, he apparently played porn, showed intimate images and explicit videos of ex-wife Kim Kardashian. Sometimes, he showed “his own sex tapes”. It was also revealed that an open later by the Yeezy team stated that senior Adidas execs knew of Mr West’s “problematic behavior” but “turned their moral compass off”.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the chief executive and his top guys pondered over the potential fallout from its collab with Kanye West four years ago. They knew it might come to this, but perhaps making money was more important? They latter announced that they would US$246 million in profits by taking Yeezy out of the Adidas line-up. What Mr West did with Yeezy that led Adidas to such profitability and then loss was often thought to be a “cultural sensation”, but now he is a cultural pariah, best ignored, even forgotten. I have never owned a single pair of Yeezy, so I can’t say what choosing not to wear them feels like, but one of my buddies did say to me that now when he takes stock of his numerous pairs, “they look like sampah”. This is probably not how others consider Yeezys that cost them not a small sum. You can still get Adidas Yeezys at SNKR Dunk, moral compass not in sight. But do you really want to?

Photo: Jim Sim

Balenciaga And Adidas

…kill the office wear that we are familiar with

Track wear is now suitable for the office. Or so Balenciaga and Adidas would have us believe. There is no longer any boundary between the running track and the boardroom. Sure, we have shifted away from office dress codes for quite a while now. But this is truly bringing tracksuits into a space that once expects its occupants to look spiffy. The images for the latest Balenciaga X Adidas collaboration is shot in the confines of an unmistakable office, one that looks like the headquarters of, say, JP Morgan Chase than the design studio of gaming giant Electronic Arts. Yet, the pretend office users are all outfitted in track wear with the distinctly oversized silhouette of Balenciaga and the conspicuous three stripes of the German sports brand.

Even when office wear is now redefined, very few people can get away with wearing tracksuits to their work place, let alone those that are this baggy. Fewer still will be able to afford these priced at a staggering S$3000, up. But with Kim Kardashian, Madonna, and others adopting them for nearly every occasion, it is possible that the ultra-relaxed look may win hearts among average office workers. They only need to buy the cheaper Adidas version, or pick one suit from a thrift store (where for, some reason, they tend to end up to die, or reborn). In today’s office, where hot-desking is increasingly preferred, Balenciaga’s and Adidas’s proposal may not look out of place in a workspace system conceived to encourage interactivity, community, and creativity. Casualness rather than formality is preferred, which may see four-figure tracksuits find their places between the open workstation and the equally open water cooler.

To be sure, Bella Hadid in the ads (top right) does not look as scary as the face-concealed models who wore similar outfits during the brand’s cruise reveal at the New York Stock Exchange in May. She tried to appear soignée, but there is something quite incongruous about her, the outfit, and the surroundings. It isn’t clear if women who work in offices would find tracksuits agreeable to wear. They are, in fact, not the epitome of comfort. The Balenciaga X Adidas tracksuit comes in “techno poplin” (a blended fabric of cotton and polyamide), cotton terry jersey, or polyester nylon, all of which, in the collaborative version, are rather thick. Given the oversized silhouette of both track jacket and pants, the weight of both is not exactly light. Can they be truly comfortable in the office? Or are we being captious? If Balenciaga can get you to buy Crocs with heels, distressed-to-death sneakers, and leather clutches that mimic the packaging of Lay’s potato chips, they can, we suppose, quite easily entice you to wear tracksuits to the office.

Photos: Joshua Bright/Balenciaga X Adidas

And Adidas Makes Three

After more than two weeks of reviewing, Adidas has finally decided to drop its partnership with Yeezy, joining The Gap and Balenciaga to turn their backs on one rapping almighty

Yeah! Or is that immoderate a reaction? Adidas has finally decided to follow the footsteps of The Gap and Balenciaga (even Vogue, if that is considered a fashion name) and disassociate themselves with Kanye West. The German brand has just announced that they would drop their Yeezy partnership with “immediate effect”. This is what so many people have been waiting for, as calls grew exponentially this month to “boycott Adidas”. The brand with trefoil had remained largely silent throughout the many times Mr West upchucked his anti-Semitic views online and to whoever was willing to hear, or cheer.

In a statement released to the media moments ago, the producer of Yeezy 350 (considered the collaboration’s best-selling shoe) said that “after a thorough review, the company has taken the decision to the partnership with Ye immediately, end production of Yeezy branded products and stop payment to Ye and his companies. Adidas will stop the Adidas Yeezy business with immediate effect.” As we post this, Kanye West has not responded to Adidas’s action although he did say, prior to Adidas’s announcement, “the thing about me and Adidas is like (notice how he placed himself first?), I could literally say anti-Semitic shit, and they can’t drop me.”

Well, obviously Adidas can. In the opening paragraph of the announcement, the Three Stripes said, “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.” Which does beg one question: Did Adidas not share with Mr West their “company’s values” prior to working with the guy in 2013? Or is Mr West’s controversial rhetorics and conspiracy theories part of his appeal and a major pull for everything Yeezy? Adidas may be the last fashion brand to say no to the rapper, but it did also make clear that they are the “sole owner of all design rights to existing products as well as previous and new colorways under the partnership”. Does that mean Yeezy 350 and its siblings will make a comeback in the future, even without the name associated with one anti-Semite?

Illustration: Just So

Some Collabs Just Look Patpong

Palace Gucci: a tad sad

By Ray Zhang

When an Italian luxury label meets an English streetwear brand, the result is not unexpected: a “hit”, which reads to me, crass commercialism. Not that that would be a problem with so many of these high-low collaborations. Nor, a turn-off to the still-many who are enchanted by such hype-over-substance pairings. But, as it appears to me, Palace Gucci is positively beng in their abstinence from subtlety. This is not Gucci’s first attempt at enticing sports brands to be part of their can’t-miss-it style. There was The North Face last December and, this year, Adidas. And it has been unequal in the aesthetic balance, with Gucci quite overwhelming the other—possibly in the pursuit of star billing. It isn’t clear why Palace needs Gucci; it isn’t to me. Even with considerable effort, I really can’t see the point when a visual high is not the result of two brands coming together.

I think it’s just me. I am seriously bored with these collaborations, just as I am with film stars/celebrities going into the beauty business. I have to keep reminding myself that such alliances are formed for brand recognition than design. This is the only way to explain the cheap-looking Gucci logo on the “track jacket” I’ve selected for the photo-illustration above. What struck me most is how similar it looks to the plethora of knock-offs you’d find in, say, Patpong. This night market and entertainment district in central Bangkok came to mind because it was here that I have encountered garment of such ilk. It was some time between 2016 and 2018. It was at the end of the year, I remember. A friend from Shanghai was visiting the Thai capital for the first time. And he wanted to acquaint himself with Patpong.

What struck me most is how similar it looks to the plethora of knock-offs you’d find in, say, Patpong

No more than ten minutes after we entered the street from the Silom Road side—with the four rows of vendors and a walkway between each of the two, forming narrow parallel passages—when someone, standing in front of a well-stacked store, pulled out a thick black sweatshirt and thrust it into my face. He said to me immediately, “cheap, special price”. It was definitely no less 32°C that night and I was sure I didn’t need what he was hawking. But what caught my eye was the text emblazoned across the chest of the garment: Burberry. It was three-dimensionally embroidered in different colours for each of the eight letters. It was a garment scarily garish, just as it clearly did not radiate authenticity from where it was peddled.

Gucci has, of course, always been a gaudy grabfest of the retro—patently so. Even their collabs with sports brands (including the use of fabrics and patterns) point to times past, not present, most definitely not the future. And a brash and garang expression of self-confidence by way of their five-letter, serif logotype, which, together with their kitschy camp, make up what the die-hards like to call Gucciness. The masthead-sized brand name on the chest is clearly for them. On me, it’d look like I am trying too hard. The question is, how would I feel about myself with that embroidered and appliquéd name on me? A fake from Patpong! This collab, interestingly, is touted with the Palace brand that comes before Gucci, which describes it as “a Gucci collection designed by Palace Skateboards”. And, that one-way partnership to Gucci means “something miraculous truly happens”. I wish it was something beautiful instead.

Gucci X Palace is available at Gucci Vault. Photo: Gucci

The Future Of The Yeezy And Adidas Pairing Is Indistinct

Adidas now ponders what it should do with the Kanye West brand that both have raised with admiral success. Is it time to let go?

That it should come to this really surprises no one. In a statement provided to the press, the Three Stripes said, “After repeated efforts to privately resolve the situation, we have taken the decision to place the partnership under review”. When Kanye West read what Adidas sent out that the media lapped up, he responded on Instagram with “FUUUUUUCK ADIDAS I AM ADIDAS ADIDAS RAPED AND STOLE MY DESIGNS” (the post has since been deleted), including a screen shot of a CNBC report of the Adidas’s reconsideration. He was his usual irascible self, just as he was when he reacted to the widespread disapproval of his “White Lives Matter” T-shirt with the post, “EVERYONE KNOWS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS A SCAM NOW IT’S OVER YOU’RE WELCOME”.

Mr West has, for as long as we can remember, been an angry man, but is much more so, which does not bode well for his business/brand partnerships. He has a tendency to bring his grouses, including those with the makers of his Yeezy sneakers, to the public sphere, with palpable heat. In contrast, Adidas went about resolving the issues with the rapper “privately”, as they said. Mr West prefers/needs the world to know he is unhappy with whoever he is unhappy with, past or present. In the last few months, he had been especially vocal, his denunciation on social media more bitter and vehement as he called out Adidas’s CEO Kasper Rorsted, even posting photos of the members of the board. Early last month, he shared a Photoshopped image of the front page of The New York Times, falsely announcing that Mr Rorsted had died. How his anger towards Adidas became this vengeful is not easily understood.

He has a tendency to bring his grouses to the public sphere. Conversely, Adidas went about resolving the issues with the rapper “privately”

But that was not the only death that he brought up with regards to CEOs. In an IG post published after his Yeezy Season 9 show in Paris early this week, he wrote that LVMH’s Bernard Arnaud “KILLED MY BEST FRIEND”, accompanied by a photo of the bust of Virgil, the ancient Roman poet regarded by his countrymen as their greatest, which was taken to refer to Virgil Abloh. Quick to respond was Tremaine Emory, the creative director of Supreme. He wrote on IG, sharing Mr West’s post, “I gotta draw the line at you using Virgil’s death in your ‘ye’ is the victim campaign in front of your sycophant peanut algorithm gallery.” We could sense applause. He went on, accusing Mr West of telling his Yeezy staff that “Virgil’s designs are a disgrace to the black community”. Would you say that of your “best friend”? “Ye tell the ppl why you didn’t get invited to Virgil’s actual funeral,” he continued, “keep Virgil name out your mouth…”.

(When staffers at Balenciaga, offered a heart shape in response to this post, Mr West responded with his own, accompanied by a list of the names and photos of the culpable [the post has been deleted]: ”These are the people at Balenciaga that hearted Tremaine’s post where he threatened me after all I’ve done for Balenciaga…”.)

Now, it is the people at Adidas who wish to keep Kanye West out of their mouths. There is so much vitriolic offensive that one can take. It is amazing that Mr West does not see that his outbursts and ugly public persona would likely hurt Yeezy than Adidas, a brand of 73 years, compared to the Adidas Yeezy partnership of seven. The Adidas and Yeezy divorce, if it comes to that, is going to be messy, like those of so many celebrity couples, in particular the many who led exceptionally public lives. In that statement shared to news media, Adidas also wrote that “successful partnerships are rooted in mutual respect and shared values”. Is that euphemistic talk for irreconcilable differences? According to estimates published by Forbes, Mr West’s deal with the German brand “is worth USD220 million annually and USD1.5 billion total”. Without Adidas, it is likely his net worth will dip below USD1 billion. Anger, Kanye West may not realise, is not bridge-building, nor profit-yielding.

Illustration: Just So

Cross-Border Dilemma

Adidas’s design for Algeria is intensely disliked in Morocco

The Moroccans have filed a complain against Adidas for cultural appropriation. According to Morocco World News, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication has asked the president of the Morocco Lawyers’ Club to raise the issue with the German brand. What’s the score? Algeria’s football team’s new jerseys designed by Adidas have posed a problem. Seen on social media, the tops sport a colour-saturated pattern that, to the Moroccans, are similar to their zellige, geometric tilework of hand-cut mosaic pieces that are made from a clay found in Morocco. Adidas said that the pattern they picked is, in fact, inspired by those seen in the El Mechouar Palace in the heart of the city of Tlemcen, Algeria.

Moroccan Netizens were quick to couner that the El Mechouar Palace was renovated in 2010, “employing Moroccan calligraphy, plaster art, mosaic, and art,” Morocco World News reported. Arousing further disapproval was a video that went viral, purported to show a director who supervised the renovation of the Palace acknowledging the help of the Moroccans, even using materials from their land. The Algerians have not yet commented on the controversy.

According to the BBC, the letter sent to Adidas’s chief executive Kasper Rorsted stated that there was, in the new design for Algeria, “an attempt to steal a form of Moroccan cultural heritage and use it outside its context”. Additionally, Algeria’s 2022-2023 season kit for the footballers “contributes to the loss and distortion of the identity and history of these (zellige) cultural elements”. Zellige (also spelled zellij) tiles in Morocco is very much a part of its ancient architecture, as well as the modern. In fact, these tiles are used in Algeria too, although their tilework and patterns might defer. Such disapproval and disputes are not uncommon in regions with shared history. It sure brings to mind one nasi-lemak squabble of fairly recent time.

Photo: adidas MENA/Instagram

Beyond Baseball

The Korea-linked fashion brand Major League Baseball or MLB has opened their first store on our island. They intend to “be major”; they just might

Clothing and footwear associated with specific sports are not necessarily a consideration when consumers without sports in their minds shop for apparel and footwear. Even skate wear is now largely adopted by those who don them without skateboards. The brand Major League Baseball (known by the abbreviation MLB), despite its affiliation with the game and organisation, has similarly been embraced by those who have never pitched a baseball in a diamond field before. Despite its association with baseball, a sport that’s not quite the rage here or widely played, MLB is very much “a premium lifestyle brand”, as we were told. The crossover, if ever there was one, could easily place them in the same league as sports brands that play down sporting pursuits as USP, such as Fila. And the sports-lite positioning is very much evident in MLB’s newly-opened debut store on our island at the Mandarin Gallery.

Aesthetically, MLB is sportswear meets streetwear, with a heavy dose of hip-hop styling, K-pop style—an unsurprising proposition considering that MLB is licensed by the Korean garment manufacturer and retailer F&F Group, also the producer of the outdoor brand Discovery Expedition, created under a licensing deal with Discovery Channel. Their design studio is based in Seoul, and MLB has enjoyed the ambassadorial exposure of their homegrown stars such as the all-girl pop quartet aespa (spelled with a lowercase initial ‘a’). To enhance their Korean design sensibility, the brand, with more than 360 stores throughout Asia, is largely known on social media as MLB Korea (or KR), possibly to avoid the potential mix-up with MLB players’ on-field uniforms, now produced by Nike (who took over from Majestic Athletic in 2020) or teamwear merchandise and fan fashion sold in dedicated MLB shops, and online.

On our shores, the brand that benefits from the 150-year-heritage of Major League Baseball is distributed by the Kuala Lumpur-based retail conglomerate Valiram Group, who represents popular label such as Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret, and Tumi here. On the first-level, street-fronting row of shops of the Mandarin Gallery, Valiram brands flank the 12-year-old building. With MLB in the middle (where Boss used to be); this—as we overhead someone say—could soon be “Valiram street”. MLB is expected to do well here, as it does in other cities in Asia that it operates in. Denise Yeo, assistant VP for marketing for Valiram brands, revealed that more MLB stores are down the pipeline. “We’re definitely opening more stores,” she revealed. “Our next is in Changi Airport T1. We are looking at other malls, but unless the ink is dry, we can’t say anything.”

The merchandising in the 120-sqm store, touted as a flagship, is trend-led, youth-oriented, and influencer-friendly. The media release for the store opening goes further: “The MLB brand fashion attitude is unique, non-conforming and independent, targeting a trend-forward customer base, who love music and dance”, alluding not to sports and definitely not to baseball, but to their alignment with the highly marketable and associable K-pop scene. Shoppers are expected to zoom in on their footwear (the brand was one of the earliest to espouse chunky, “dad shoes” even before they became trendy), T-shirts (especially those with adorable cartoon graphics), as well as merchandise with the popular ‘Diamond’ monogram and the other with repeated NY letters, as worn by the four lasses of aespa in their promotional photos for the brand.

Unsurprisingly, a large wall is dedicated to caps and other headwear, such as bucket hats. According to Korean news media, one MLB baseball cap is “sold every 10 seconds”. Expecting the caps to do spectacularly, the store is stocked with “over 300 classic and new styles all year round”, which readily affords the boast of “the widest range of caps in Asia”. Inside MLB earlier today, mask-on Tyler Ten (邓伟德 or Deng Weide), as OK Chan in the just-concluded When Duty Calls 2 (卫国先锋2) on Channel 8, who “happened to be nearby” when a friend asked him to visit the store, wore an MLB khaki cotton twill cap with the initials LA in the middle (it was, he said, “unplanned”) while looking at the wall of caps. When asked if he, a muay Thai enthusiast and former bodybuilder, likes the brand, he gave a simple “sure” and pointed to what he wore on his head. “Yah, I like sporty clothes,” he added.

Style sportif—not necessarily sports performance wear—have since the ’90s been part of the urban wardrobe and are crucial to streetwear. Ditto baseball caps. So important a merchandise category ‘sporty’ became that even luxury brands saw the need to include it, as seen, particularly, in those by Louis Vuitton and Dior. In the pre-pandemic years, it sailed into a whole new category, athleisure, those garments that allow wearers to easily transition between gym/court/track/field and leisure. In 2021, when WFH was (and, for many, still is) a real option, sportswear was the veritable winner. MLB’s arrival here could be seen as a little belated, especially given the emergence of massive flagships by leading sports labels in this part of Orchard Road months earlier that, too, offer a strong lifestyle component. But with persuasive K-pop association and a savvy design language, MLB may catch up with more speed than the next Blackpink catapulting up the charts.

MLB opens today at #01-06 Mandarin Gallery. Photos: Chin Boh Kay

Two Of A Kind: Apparel Apparitions!

All roads lead to Balenciaga?

Yeezy Gap versus Nike Forward. Photos: respective brands

Both are ghostly, both are sinister. Whose is more ominous? Nike has shared the images for their latest apparel featuring the new Forward textile on their website and app. That faceless hoodie seen here (on the right) appears as if worn by Invisible Man, including uneven placement of the arms—the unseen wearer in motion. Could this be Nike flattering Yeezy Gap? When the brand led by Kanye West (soon no more) launched the first drop of Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga last February, the images shared were similarly spectral. And in the latest, they are less black, which is rather close to Nike’s with the sepia patina. Two of the world’s most visible brands using such illusory effects may mean that phantoms, rather than models, could take over fashion communication of the near future.

There is of course the possibility that brands these days rather let the garments do the talking than voluble celebrities. Clothes should stand out, not faces. Yeezy Gap’s images require no perceivable face (although a body filling up the clothes can be discerned) just as its retail spaces need no shelf, rack or hanger. Balenciaga had a hand in all this. It started most prominently on the red carpet, as seen in the face-concealing number that Kim Kardashian wore to the last Med Gala. Ms Kardashian was already a walking preview for Balenciaga months earlier. Later, her ex-husband, too, appeared just as obscured in his Donda listening/reveal mega events, whose creative director was Demna Gvasalia. Mr West attended his by-then pal’s debut haute couture showing in Paris like a Black male Pontianak. And after Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga was announced, the images that were circulating and shared showed, until now, the fashionable on the incorporeal. As the Police once sang, Spirits in the Material World.

Nike Fast-Forwards

The Swoosh is seriously reducing, and in doing so, births a new sub-brand

The way forward for Nike is to reduce. This is not merely to cut down on the wasteful ways of garment production, but to lower the many stages of making clothes by primarily going back to the first, and re-consider how textile can be produced. The innovative new way for them to go from fibre to textile is via a “needle-punch” approach, which, as the brand’s vice-president of innovation and apparel design Carmen Zolman told Forbes, produces “a completely new material that drastically reduces its carbon footprint”. That reduction, as Nike states, is 75% (compared to conventional production of, say, their knit fleece), as less energy is used. Nike calls this textile Forward. And the new line—they consider it a “platform”—is simply named Nike Forward.

But Forward is not Flyknit, likely the Swoosh’s most impactful and influential material for footwear uppers. In fact, it is not a knit at all, nor a woven. Rather, the manufacturing process—the result of more than five years of R&D—involves the creation of the fibres using recycled plastic “flakes” and formed by compressing the ultra-thin layers (five for now) with existing needle-punch machines, already used in the medical and automotive industries. The challenge was to create a fabric that is durable and that has a pleasant hand feel. The result is cloth that looks papery and perforated, that has substantial body.

Close-up of Forward fabric

The new fabric will initially be used for a hoodie and a sweatshirt (just two, and, although gender-neutral looking, they do come in styles for women and men). To further the reduction process, both garments, already minimalist, come sans zippers, aglets, or superfluous trims (but not, of course, the embroidered logo), which Nike says allow the clothes to be easier to recycle. Additionally, the fabric of the tops do not require water for the dyeing (most fabric dyeing notoriously require staggering amounts of water. According to one Euronews report, “to dye 1 tonne of fabric, 200 tonnes of water is required”) or finishing, such as laundering, to render it soft.

The images Nike has released show boxy and roomy tops, attractively shaped (even the hoods sit on the shoulders with sculptural form) to give the garments their contemporary volume, which looks far more cutting-edge than the first two hoodie and puffer that Kanye West launched through Yeezy Gap last year. Interestingly, the product images—shown suspended in the air—are rather evocative of those put out by Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga; only the former, with a faint sepia patina, is a lot brighter. Let’s hope that when they are available in stores, Nike Forward garments would not be stuffed into what could be easily mistaken as ”bins”.

Nike Forward launches globally on 8 September 2022. Check nike.com for details. Photos: Nike

Nike’s Next

…designer collaboration will be with Jacquemus

It really is not surprising that Simon Porte Jacquemus of his eponymous label would choose to collaborate with Nike, but it is rather unexpected that he has opted to present a woman’s-only line. Nike announced two days ago that the Nike x Jacquemus apparel and footwear (interestingly, available for guys too) will debut next month, on the 28th. The collaboration is aimed at what both brands call “integrated aesthetic”, not just between the two names, but also clothes and shoes worn on courts, track or field that are also suitable for those times that are off them. It does not sound too differently from what Nike has achieved with, say, Sacai.

According to a Nike media release, the collaboration “invites sport style into everyday life” too, something that the sportwear giant is already doing, regularly and with considerable success. How else can we describe their work with Comme des Garçons and Undercover (excluding the for-running Gyakusou line)? As the Swoosh further expounds, “Nike x Jacquemus follows a belief that sport isn’t simply about performance, it is also an expansion of style and self.” It is not yet clear what that would look like, but Jacquemus is very much a trending brand, so expect a craze to follow.

Nike X Jacquemus will be available on 28 June at select Nike stores and online. Watch this space for more details. Photos: Nike

Wear A Tee, Take A Stand

Japanese e-tailer Zozotown has offered a special-edition ‘No War’ T-shirt “to support those who have been deprived of their peaceful life in Ukraine¨. Why are there no similar initiatives among our fashion businesses?

“The peace that everyone naturally wants is now lost,” read the promotion copy for the Zozotown special-edition ‘No War’ T-shirts. “The ordinary everyday life of people who, like us, should have been able to spend time with family and friends with a smile suddenly disappears one day.” As “humanitarian aid to Ukraine”, proceeds of the sale of the T-shirt will go to ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) Japan. In an official statement, ADRA International “calls for peace for the people of Ukraine and mobilizes relief for millions of people impacted by the war.”

While not exactly a creation in the vein of Supreme tees, these simple, 100% cotton, crew-neck, white tops have already hit the number one spot on Zozotown’s merchandise ranking just a day after its launch on 1 March. Available in two unisex styles for young and old, they sport motifs in yellow and blue, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. For kids, a garland in the form of the peace symbol and, for the adults, two flowers on the left side of the chest, with a short text below that reads, “NO WAR IN UKRAINE”. The item is described as ‘Ukrainian Humanitarian Charity T-shirt’, and is available by pre-ordering only (unfortunately not outside Japan). In its promotional material for the T-shirts, four hashtags of #nowar appear in three other languages too: Japanese, Ukrainian, and Russian. Zozotown is clear of their intent: “to support those who have been deprived of their peaceful life in Ukraine”.

Zozotown is clear of their intent: “to support those who have been deprived of their peaceful life in Ukraine”

A quick survey of some of the most popular local e-shops reveal no such initiative. At The Editor’s Market, the homepage asks visitors to “explore” their “Forever Hits”, described as the brand’s “most wanted silhouettes back and in better shape than ever”. Love, Bonito’s homepage skips any message altogether, going straight to their merchandise under a banner ‘Women’. Fayth is promoting ‘Back to Work’, or “sophisticated looks for the office”. Weekend Sundries is still in a festive mood, showing off ‘A Feast of Colours’, featuring “new limited edition prints for good cheer this holiday season”. We were discouraged and did not go looking further. Nowhere on each of these sites mentioned the occurrence of war. Or, offered a denouncement.

A marketing head said to us that for most fashion retailers, “staying neutral is probably the best”. Moreover, it takes too much effort to create new merchandise that is already past each brand’s production schedule. He added, “As a society, we are rather indifferent to such thing—attacks not happening near us. Few people would have heard of Ukraine!” At a Uniqlo store early this afternoon, two young women were looking at T-shirts featuring recognisable characters from Studio Ghibli. We asked them, “what attracts you to these?” One of them replied shyly, “they are cute, lor.” We asked again, “Would you wear a T-shirt that says ‘No War’?” Their puzzlement is unmistakable: “What war?” Zozotown, Japan’s largest fashion e-commerce site, is straightforward when they said, “We oppose the war.” So do we.

Product photos: Zozotown. Typography: Zozotown. Collage: Just So

It’s Yeezy: Look Like Kanye

If you can’t afford the threads Kanye West wears to look ominously wrapped up, Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga has similar sinister options for you

Gap will, for the first time in their 53-year existence embrace the look of a dark lord—whether of the Sith or Mordor, or Hidden Hills, you choose. Their offshoot brand Yeezy Gap headed by the all-dominant Kanye West is now in a collaborative arrangement with Balenciaga, specifically the equally powerful Demna Gvasalia. The sub-brand of that sub-brand, Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga (another long name to add to the club of long names or text in a logo), has released images of the so-far 8-piece capsule that comprises way more that what Mr West has produced since his appointment in 2020, when he signed an unimaginable 10-year deal with The Gap Inc, reported to be “worth as much as $970 million”, according to estimates later provided by UBS.

This collection, compared to Yeezy (the fashion label), is another planet. We have to go back to the past since Mr West has only created two items—a puffer and a hoodie—for Yeezy Gap. While Yeezy (fate not yet known) was mostly sensuous and body-loving, the Yeezy Gap tie-up is moody, oversized stuff that members of the Abnegation (or, perhaps, off-duty folks of Dauntless) of Divergent Chicago would wear. But the pieces click with Mr West’s preference for basics that are sufficiently tweaked for the pieces to look outré, but not so much that the kids of Calabasas or the fans in not-yet-dystopian Chicago would find them hard to accept. This time, the merchandise—apparently ready to retail three months earlier than planned—is a grand selection of one hoodie, four tees (one long-sleeved, three with a blurred dove image on the back), a pair of track pants, one torn denim trucker and jeans to match.

While the clothes may not arouse zeal, the pricing would spark shock. The cheapest item, one of the four T-shirts, is S$180 a pop (S$210 if the logo on the chest is larger)! For Gap? Yeezy? That makes Comme des Garçons’s madly popular made-in-Japan Play tees, at S$100 a piece (or S$110 for the men’s sizes), alluringly cheap. Is Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga expensive because, other than the luxury-brand association, they are MAGA-proudly “made in the USA”? Or is this a Gap-backed Balenciaga diffusion line to infuse the fashion and pop world with baggy bombast? A venture to better propagate the increasingly bleak, individual-erasing aesthetic of the Ye-Demna pairing, already seen in so much visually associated with Mr West’s Donda album release, activities, and publicity?

Mr Gvasalia told Vogue, “This is a very different challenge. I’ve always appreciated the utilitarianism and the accessibility of Gap. This project allowed me to join forces (with Ye) to create utilitarian fashion for all.” Reaching out to this many is ambitious. The thought is pretty scary too, when you consider seeing before you, the hordes dressed as if to attend Kanye West’s Sunday Service, to worship at the alter presided by a polymath-proteus-egoist. Even if you stop outside the moving doors of this church/cult (which one it is, it’s hard to say), it does not mean you would not witness the many adopters for whom the two one-names behind Yeezy Gap’s latest offerings could do no wrong. Are there really that many wishing for this creepy uniformity?

Oh, do also note: on the Yeezy Gap website, there’s no button that says ‘add to cart’, but a brief line that urges you to ‘JOIN WAITLIST’. Yes, in all caps, just like Kanye West’s rant-Tweets.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga is available online at Yeezy Gap and Farfetch. Photos: Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga