Jonathon Anderson Looked Back At JW Anderson

Was this a greatest hits collection?

These days, there is a TV programming trend here: the various cast of old television dramas get together to 话旧 (hua jiu) or reminiscence about the good ’old days. On Channel 5, there is On the Red Dot: Reunions and, on Channel 8, The Reunion (小团剧 or xiaotuanju). Each program banks on the viewers’ love of nostalgia and looks back at old TV series through the eyes of the cast. This reliving of the past are mostly dull, augmenting not the viewer experience. In some ways, the JW Anderson autumn/winter 2023 show is in the same vein, but they engaged the mind far much more, and tugged at the heart strings immensely too. Mr Anderson was looking at Scottish dancer/choreographer Michael Clark’s vast body of work. Both men have never collaborated before (Mr Clark did pair up with the ’80s British label Bodymap. The brand’s designers Stevie Stewart and David Holah had conceived costumes for the dancer’s performances and, in 1986, Mr Clark choreographed a Bodymap show), so this was hardly a reunion. But, it was an exercise at revisiting both their work, concurrently. As Mr Anderson explained in the show notes, “As I looked back through my own archive for this show, resurrecting elements from each collection of the last fifteen years, Michael let me rifle through his. It helped me pinpoint my own obsessions.”

Mr Clark was often described as the choreographer-provocateur who “brought punk to ballet”. He was also a fashion circuit regular: Hussein Chalayan designed his 1988 piece current/SEE, and he choreographed Alexander McQueen’s 2003 Spring/Summer presentation Irere. Mr Clark’s own dance performances in his early years were known for their “circus-like quality”. While Mr Anderson did not quite create a circus for his show, there was a hint of the entertainment in the form of a rink as runway (at the Roundhouse in Camden), and in which three, box-like installations were placed, adjacent to each other. On one, was a Warholian illustration of the male genitalia (in place of Mr Clark’s famed prosthetic dildos!). Another, a photo image of two fingers held up to denote the peace symbol. The third a rift on Coca Cola, but with the text, “Enjoy God’s Disco” instead, followed by the rhetorical “Is there nightlife after death?”. In sum, they seemed to offer a more controlled, even neater version of Mr Clark’s madcap, sexually-charged dance world. JW Anderson fitted this nonconformity (some might consider it deviancy) rather nicely, without quite shaking the conventions associated with current fashion the way Mr Clark did with the orthodoxies of dance.

If you were expecting cut-outs in the rear of pants, exposing bare bums, you’d be disappointment. JW Anderson is beyond what Mr Clark considered of the infamous (and impertinent at that time) buttocks-exposed costumes, design by the late London nightlife impresario Leigh Bowery: “I thought they were a lovely fashion detail”, he told the Barbican Centre in an interview to coincide with the 2020 exhibition Cosmic Dancer. There were, of course, details in the JW collection, but they were in technical finesse, rather than titillating minute parts: wrecked sweater ends (and still decorated with glittery bits), seemingly hand-torn hems of trousers, peplums that moved to the bodice, overalls with zouave-like bottoms (the inverted smiley face a clear reference to Mr Clark), or the triangular legs of the jodhpur-like pants. For those who hoped to own key pieces of JW Anderson’s past, there were smart (but never overly) gray pant suits and checked coats, or those with massive triangular—almost habit-like—collars, or sweater-knit pullovers with tubular necklines. We are partial to those shell tops with a sort-of-half-shawl wrapped asymmetrically to the left, a deconstructed trench coat truncated into a complex top-cape, and those mini-skirts that could have been an obi deliberately worn on the hip, askew.

In paralleling his past output with Michael Clark’s, Mr Anderson strangely made his eponymous work less subversive. There was, of course, the underground vibe of that dress that appeared to be made of Tesco (not the more posh Waitrose) plastic bags, but on the whole the collection was not a rigorous attempt to challenge anything, least of all his own 15-year output. This was, to us a casual look-back, a pleasing replay, a reiteration that was not offensive, penile glory on the chest of a top notwithstanding. In 2016, Michael Clark told the press, “I never really had a plan, except to express myself as purely as possible.” Mr Anderson has had a plan since the quiet birth of JW Anderson in 2008, and he has expressed himself, if not purely, at least unapologetically, and for that, we will look back with him, but we prefer casting our sight forward. Something greater awaits, we’re sure.

Screen shot (top): JW Anderson. Photos:

Ugly to Cartoonish

Shoes can’t stay hideous forever. So, they are, for now, happily silly

Clockwise (from top left): Loewe, MSCHF, JW Anderson X Wellipets, Balenciaga, Product photos: respective brands. Illustration: Just So

It is a matter of time. Ugly will morph to silly, not back to pretty, while staying in the realm of the ludicrous, remaining decidedly not for everyone until everyone wants it. This is what’s happening to shoes: they look like a pair you’d only see on Sonic the Hedgehog and company. Still, they are not those with all-over cartoon prints, such as Balenciaga’s yellow Knife boots from 2018. For the present season, the shoes to covet seem to have leapt out of your favourite cartoon characters’ feet and landed on yours. The first to appear was at the Loewe spring/summer 2022 last October, when Jonathan Anderson showed shoes that have been liked to those Mini Mouse wears (some said Daisy Duck). And then these past weeks, during New York Fashion Week, appear did the clunky, rubbery boots by MSCHF that many thought to resemble Astro Boy’s although they could easily be those worn by Dora the Explorer’s monkey-friend, appropriately named Boots!

MSCHF’s gigantic Big Red Boots (as in Big Bad Wolf?) have been so much the rage and in the news (and desirable?) that, earlier in the week, SOTD readers sent us reports and TikTok videos about them and their wearers, wondering—possibly in dismay—why we have skipped commenting on the silly-looking footwear. There is really now not much to say about the choices people make so that, in whatever they wear, they will be a social media hit. We told ourself it’ll all pass until it has not. Those MSCHF boots just won’t go away from our news feeds, even when, prior, we did not search for them. These red, wellies-looking shoes have almost no aesthetic appeal; they could pass off as a silicone caddy for kitchen utensils. They look drawn on by a cartoonist with no interest in details, or 3D-printed. We once thought that no one would really go further than Crocs, but we were wrong. Fashion has, of course, turned consumers topsy-turvy. These days, we’re vending S&M teddy bear-bags via children and selling kiddy footwear to grown-ups. No mischief intended, apparently.

These days, we’re vending S&M teddy bear-bags via children and selling kiddy footwear to grown-ups

MSCHF doesn’t make shoes; it isn’t a footwear company the way Steve Madden is. Heck, it is not even a fashion company the way Supreme is. Or, Yeezy was. Based in Brooklyn, New York, the brand (they’ve been referred to as a “creative” too) creates stuff, but not necessarily for serious, world-changing consumption. These could be anything, but footwear has been what they have largely made their name on. In 2020, there was the infamous “Jesus Shoes” that was nothing like what the Jews of the Roman Empire wore. They were, in fact, Nike Air Max 97s with soles purported to contain “holy water” from the River Jordan. MSCHF sold them—online, of course—for a staggering US$1,425 (about S$1904). Mind you, this was not a collaboration with the Swoosh and you can imagine that the sneaker biggie was not amused. Nor the Vatican, for that matter. Unsurprisingly, the not-quite-pure Air Max 97 sold out, with the black market reportedly asking for US$4,000 a pair. Why anyone needed such sneakers and would pay staggering amounts for them is still not clearly known. The thought of possessing something ridiculous but with a perceived value of staggering levels was—and still is—enough for brands to want to tap it for a real business/branding strategy.

How do you describe these cartoon-shoes without using the convenient word ‘silly’? Like ugly, silly, too, is being redefined. Looking silly is not silly! It now dances within the increasingly vague parameters of beauty. It certainly was not for Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies between 1929 and 1939. Until the COVID era, no brand would have considered shoes, however simple they look, that only Olive Oyl types would think of buying and wearing (Ms Oyl might, in fact, desire the MSCHF pair in place of her beat-up brown ones if she were to consider what is presently fashionable). But now TikTokers and the like can’t wait to jump into a pair. Dainty pumps and kitty heels are too inconspicuous. Women have once again shown that they can occupy the big shoes they desire to fill. And look delightful, and adorable. With Lil Wayne and wrestling star Seth Rollins wearing the Big Red Boots, even the guys, amazingly, want to look Nitendo-cute, too.

Run To Me

JW Anderson beckons with a collab that features the vintage South Korean cartoon character Hany

The titular character from the South Korean cartoon series Run Hany. Screen shot: KBS Archive/FaceBook

JW Anderson introduced Japanese anime to Loewe with two Studio Ghibli classics: My Neighbour Totoro in 2021 and Spirited Away in 2022. This year, Mr Anderson brings the South Korean cartoon Run Hany (달려라 하니), also spelled Hani, to his eponymous label. Followers of his use of animated characters for Loewe might find the latest familiar, especially in the graphic treatment of the bags, but the present version is no less charming, even if the central character Hany brings to mind the equally spunky Chihiro Ogino (Hiragi) of Spirited Away. Both are girls in search of something and, in turn, themselves, but both are delineated rather differently, with Hany clearly bearing a retro vibe and the vividness of the characters of Japanese cartoons of the past, such as those by Macoto Takahashi, especially the big eyes and the prominent lashes.

Run Hany is a Korean TV animation series from the late ’80s, based on a popular comic from the manga mag Treasure Island. It tells the story of the titular 13-year-old, middle-schooler, who grew up motherless and quite alone (initially; her father was away in the Middle East for work). She is plucky, energetic, oftentimes boisterous, with a talent for the sport of running—a tomboy, as girls with an athletic streak tended to be portrayed. Her talent is recognised by the school coach, a handsome, stubbled, and somewhat uncouth fellow, who offered to train her. As can be imagined, Hani’s adventures are found in her becoming an athlete and, at the same time, the overcoming of adversity and the coming to terms with her mother’s death.

JW Anderson X Run Hany capsule. Product photos: JW Anderson. Cartoon screen shot: KBS 2TV. Collage: Just So

The shoulder bags featuring the title character Hany. Photo: JW Anderson/Instagram

It is easy to understand why JW Anderson is drawn to sporty Hany. What she wears is rather what many girls still don today: T-shirts, blousons (the green one!), sweatshirts (the red with pink hoodie!), camp shirts, track tops and track pants (not necessarily together), and jeans—skinny, to boot. Hany is not depicted wearing skirts (not counting when she was a little child)! Yet, in the JW Anderson capsule, there is a dress—sort of, in the form of an extra-long T-shirt that serves as a dress. Her pair of slim-fit blue jeans is replaced with white ‘workwear trousers’ that sport faces of the protagonist all over. In fact, if Hany were to have first dib of the clothes, it is doubtful she will find anything she likes, as the pieces are a wee bit feminine. There is even a pink ‘peplum top’!

Hany is known for her pink heart-shaped hair clip. She even wears them (sometimes singly, sometimes a pair, on each side of her head) while she competes. That heart shape is reprised, but only as a coin purse and a key ring. Bags come in the brand’s familiar ‘Bumper-Moon’ leather shoulder bag, with images of Hany on the front. The runner’s recognisable pink satchel is not recreated. Nor her red-and-white high-cut Converse-like sneakers. Rather, there is a pointy-toe booty with a print on the quarter of Hany tying the shoe lace of her blue running shoe. In her pursuit of sporting excellence, it is doubtful that Hany would consider being a fashion icon. Perhaps, therein lies her charm.

JW Anderson Run Hany Capsule is available at Club 21 and

Keyboard Warrior

JW Anderson loves incorporating everyday objects into his clothes. This season, the keys that you type on are not spared

We use it almost everyday (at least for those of us who still work on a PC or a notebook), but the keyboard is not quite on our minds when we think of clothes. Yet, that has not stopped JW Anderson from using keys from a QWERTY keyboard to adorn his clothes. Of the 26 alphabet keys, he chose—unsurprisingly—only J,W, and A for two slim-fitting dresses. Another, an almost backless top, is festooned with too many keys to count. They look like a mosaic arrangement; the keys here seem to have been plucked from a de-commissioned keyboard, scuff marks intact. The keys themselves in fashion are, of course, nothing new. Accessories featuring single square keys or a string of them as a charm have been available for a while. And like these, Mr Anderson’s selected keys are from older keyboards (even the wired ones), not the slim peripheral preferred by the desktop-bound.

Mr Anderson seems to be expressing his geeky side. The show is staged in a games arcade. This could seem flippant when at this time, London is mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and thousands are queuing to walk pass the coffin that lies in state in Westminster Hall. But about two kilometres north, in the lively Soho neighbourhood, the JW Anderson show went on as planned in the Las Vegas Arcade, right next door to his own store at the corner of Wardour and Brewer Streets. There is, of course, nothing terribly unusual in a fashion presentation staged on operational business premises. Balenciaga showed their cruise collection last May in the New York Stock Exchange. While the NYSE may have been a coup of sort for Balenciaga, Mr Anderson’s venue in a commercial heart of the West End is less awe-inspiring but speaks more than the others of the season that the show must go on, just as computer games do. Game arcades (we also know them as entertainment arcades) go back to the early ’70s. But there is nothing even vaguely retro about the JW Anderson collection. The geeky is accompanied by the goofy.

Despite the colourful digital lights coming from the screens of the game machines that line the wall, the clothes look like they belong elsewhere. One ellipsoidal dress, with a reflective metal surface, could be very much a good companion to the Forster and Partners-designed London City Hall, along the Thames. Could this egg-shaped outfit be a symbol of fertility and what was it doing in a game arcade? And how is it worn? Can you sit in it? Is this a body helmet? The sculptural element did not end there: Two dresses with orb-shaped skirts illustrate that silhouettes need not be restricted to those that strictly follow the body. Or conform to what is discernible as a dress, such as the pair of one-shoulder shifts that look like a plastic bag with a fish in it that you get when buying your swimming pet in a fish shop at the market. Another fish appears too, such as the dolphin, but the mammal is just a print on a bodysuit. What aquatic creatures have to do with the movable parts of keyboards is anyone’s guess. It can’t be said Mr Anderson isn’t having fun.

To be certain, Mr Anderson wants to remember this very LFW that unfolded after the British Monarch died. To mark the occasion (even if it could be construed as cursory or, worse, flippant), he sent the last model, a male(?) with blond, vaguely QEII-ish hair down the runway in something the Sovereign probably never wore—a T-shirt. The oversized black top appears singly, sans pants. On the chest are printed the simple words: “HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN 1926—1922 Thank you” in the same font as the announcement of the royal demise seen on bus-stops throughout London, as shared by the British press. How significant that detail is, we are not sure. But a black, nonedescript T-shirt is probably more appropriate than a shiny metal egg.

Screen shot (top): Photos:

Found Objects Incorporated

JW Anderson shows in Milan for the first time, and it is somewhat surreal—those clothes, but not bereft of fun

We are not sure about London or Milan, where JW Anderson presently shows his collection, but are their streets overrun by food delivery guys on their bikes, unconcerned with the foot traffic, just like ours? We started thinking of that the minute the first look of Mr Anderson’s collection appears. The model has a bicycle handlebar in place of a neckline. Did a Grab rider crash into an unsuspecting, fashionably-togged pedestrian early in the morning (based on the soundtrack of chirping birds)? Not one but two of them! As the show continues, there are other accidents, too. A duo with cans of food crashed into something or someone and the lids of the purchases embedded on T-shirts and two skateboarders, their devices snapped into two. Bystanders were unscathed. There were ripped clothing bar codes (more shopping references), and those as if CDs were flung on them. JW Anderson’s collision of a show could be a thesis on the state of street fashion as seen on the street.

If the collection appears unhinged, it is not. Look carefully and you’d notice actual hinges used to secure the top half of T-shirts (and dresses) to the bottom half. Everything, in fact, looks more held together than initially perceived, even if those handlebars are a balancing act. Mr Anderson has worked these seemingly found pieces in his clothes before. Those holes on the tees formed by pried-open can lids are reminiscent of the kitchen sink filters of Loewe’s autumn/winter 2022. Similarly, the skateboards on the jumpers bring to mind of Loewe’s womenswear autumn/winter 2022, when a car seemed to be trapped in a skirt! Nonsensical it would be to the average fashion consumer, but when times are serious, uncertain, and complex, a little whimsy can be rather uplifting, even if weighted by bicycle handle bars.

If you are less inclined to want odd bits and pieces ensnared in your clothes (not even a manly gardening glove), Mr Anderson has other garments that would not, to your delight, be conversation starters anywhere you might wear them to. Sure, there are still dresses for guys, if you are inclined to express your inner Harry Styles (a puffy shift in Pikachu yellow?), but the separates at not too far out for you and your mates. The denim double jeans (twofer, really) are likely going to be a hit, so too the artfully torn sweaters (anything damage is coveted these days) and the T-shirt with the striped front on which there is a a rather cheery print of a boy wearing the same eating an apple.

The collection is reportedly inspired by The Pitchfork Disney, a 1991 play by the British novelist/scriptwriter Phillip Ridley. Mr Anderson re-read The Pitchfork Disney, which he had once perform when in the throes of wanting to be an actor years ago. The play is a dark, dreamlike piece that deals primarily with fear—childhood fear. Chocolate is featured in the story, as the two protagonists appear to subsist on it, but it makes no appearance in the collection, barely even by way of colour. Yet, a strange, possibly scary-looking Rembrandt in the 1630 Self-portrait in a Cap, Wide-eyed and Open-mouthed appears, massively intarsia-ed on sweaters. Looking startled, the man could be the selfie that startles, not the clothes.

Screen shot (top) JW Anderson/YouTube. Photos:

What’s Juergen Teller Doing In The JW Anderson Lookbook?

Oh, we are living in body-positive times. And there’s a place for middle-aged men in briefs among young girls

An almost-naked middle-aged man, posing with rubber tyres, however artistic we are led to believe, is still the almost-naked middle-aged man, posing with rubber tyres. That the photos were shuffled between those featuring young models, some scantily-clad, isn’t supposed to caused discomfort to the viewer. It is, after all a fashion shoot executed in inclusive times. The placement of said man is beyond problematic or controversial too because he is, in fact, the photographer who has appointed himself as the non-Adonis counterpoint to the nubile lasses. This is what it is this season at Loewe. The LVMH-owned Spanish brand has engaged the German photographer Juergen Teller to lens it, as it is, the brand’s spring/summer 2022 lookbook. Mr Teller gleefully places his self-portraits among the images of models he, too, shot for Loewe. Sure, he is no stranger to the inclusion of himself in commissioned work. In 2019, he shot and starred in the Asics collection designed by Kiko Kostadinov. He was not doing Eric Rutherford, for sure, yet those trashy images seemingly bothered no one. And here he is at it again, in Speedo-skimpy undies (or swimwear?), sometimes caught in the middle of a tyre—in one photo, his buttocks towards the viewer.

We know what Mr Teller is saying as a photographer, but what is he communicating as a model? Is there a sexual message when he places his avuncular body through the centre bore of those tyres or through a stack of them? Or are they just innocent and playful poses? It has been suggested that he is satirising the annual calendar of Italian tyre maker Pirelli. Really? Or is his holding of a tyre in each hand a parody of Herb Ritts’s 1984 shot Fred with Tyres? Presumably he will be paid as a photographer, but does that mean he too will be compensated for being a model? Photographers, as far as we’re aware, do not place themselves in the pictures they shoot for clients. These photos of Mr Teller are too numerous to be considered a professional intro to the work the brand is presenting. Certainly no small photo byline or credit. Of the 26 photographs shared, six are of Mr Teller, which amounts to a not insignificant 23 percent. What value does his aberrant participation bring to the fashion of JW Anderson? Frankly we do not know. These are indeed difficult-to-understand times.

What about the clothes? That man isn’t wearing any! So we examined the models who are—some scantily clad, like much of this season, so far. As fabric is increasingly immaterial in fashion, it requires close scrutiny—not necessarily successful with these ‘action’ shots—before we could make out what the key message JW Anderson is trying to communicate for next spring, apart from being cheeky by planting Juergen Teller in the series of photographs set in a tyre yard, a site Richard Prince might like to go to for his Blasting Mats. Did the dirty-looking space, traditionally the domain of men (no?), enhance the choiceness of the clothes? Are they prettier when you can even discern the smell of rubber? Are they more delicate when juxtaposed with the heftiness of the tyres. An average car tyre will apparently last about 60,000 miles, according to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (or 96,560 kilometres; about going from the far east of our island to the far west 1,931 times). Are these clothes as durable?

It appears that Mr Anderson is in a playful mood. The models are not in a can’t-be-bothered-to-do-anything pose. They seem to be discovering the enjoyment potential of a working-class surrounding normally not conducive to a fashion shoot. There is no clear theme in the designs, but they bear the JW Anderson hallmark for artsy details on clothes that look like the result of some advanced home-sewing class. There are short ultra-circular skirts, dresses with handkerchief points (one with an impossibly low back), and more slips for the cocktail hour than you’ll ever need. Accessories (still searching for a teeny bag?) seem to be as important as the clothes, and the footwear, in particular, will massively appeal, especially the heeled, thonged sandals. The collection points to the anticipated return of social fun, even if, for now, the models look like they were not posing for posting on Instagram. OnlyFans, perhaps?

Photos: JW Anderson

Two Of A Kind: Cock-A-Double-Do

Staying at home means spending more time online. Not necessarily a bad thing: You get to see a lot, including, like it or not, accessories in the stylised shape of the male genitalia

JW Anderson Vs Vivienne Westwood

By Ray Zhang

Let it be known, I am no prude, but that is not to say I am partial to accessories that depict the male sex organ. Lockdown, a noun I have not heard of until four months ago, is motivating us to go online for all our amusement and entertainment. E-shopping, I hear, isn’t quite a major pursuit, but bored stay-at-homers are spending considerable time parked between HTMLs. If buying—for adornment, especially—is stricken by limited appeal, online viewing may not translate into offline wearing. Besides, who really cares about what is worn within the four walls of home, or when snuggling in bed with a notebook, or when you start to wonder, as the popular beng retort goes, “wear to where”? Yet, these dick danglies are out there.

They were likely conceived before daily grind and telecommuting merged (not mingle!), when some of us still had the habit of looking into a closet, or accessory drawer. One is in leather, the other in steel, and both depict an organ not in flaccid state, which is understandable since a limp phallus would be a downer if it were to arouse even the mildest shock. On the left is a JW Anderson charm that looks like something destined for a handbag, not likely a Birkin. On the right is a Vivienne Westwood keyring with the carabiner shaped like a boner. Nothing exceptionally shocking here as Ms Westwood has already released a larger penile likeness in 2014, in the form of the Penis Clutch Bag.

I’m not sure who these are designed for. Would a man buy either piece for himself or for a lady friend? Or for another man? Would a woman buy for herself or for a male friend? What does succumbing to its appeal say, even if both do not correspond to sexual excitement? Could they have pride of place next to Line’s popular Brown or Coney, frequently in charm form? Or has buying and gifting conventions changed so much that products need to come under the umbrella of porno-suggestive to be buyable and giveable? Is this timely, considering that even the BBC reported, while debunking its immune-boosting advantage, acknowledged that, during masturbation, “men had higher white blood cell counts when they were sexually aroused, and during orgasm”? Frankly, I really don’t know, but do click and add to cart.

Product photos: source

Two Of A Kind: Cotton Work Jacket

In the work wear category, which is better: Dior or Uniqlo?


Dior Vs UniqloTwo work-wear-style cotton jackets: Dior (left) for women and (right) Uniqlo X JW Anderson for men

When we saw this Dior jacket in the window of the brand’s Takashimaya Shopping Centre store, we did a double take. Had we not just seen a very similar piece at Uniqlo a short while ago?

It was a day after Uniqlo’s launch of its collaborative line with JW Anderson, the fifth season since its debut in 2017, now including a kid’s capsule for the first time. Described as “British country style”, the result is more Land Girls than To the Manor Born, South Downs than South Bank. Mr Anderson knows what he can do with a mass brand such as Uniqlo. While the Britishness is arguable in the hands of the Japanese, the clothes are an agreeable interpretation of idyllic-meets-high-street. With Uniqlo, Mr Anderson has consistently offered his version of British outerwear (winter coats have been especially appealing), and this men’s cotton work jacket is another to add to the pairing’s repertoire, and continues to expand on Uniqlo’s own contemporary-fit versions.

That Dior needs to produce a jacket of such proletarian provenance for its women’s wear is a little more than mind boggling. Or, that such an item need to be sold alongside the brand’s own signature Bar jacket, is indication that Dior, like many other luxury labels, is studying with palpable seriousness from the playbook of money-churning mass brands. The line between fashion and clothing is blurred to the point that you can’t see if there’s a demarcation in the first place, like the smudgy marks of past and present scribbles on a black board that never benefited from a thorough wipe down. It is apposite to say that Dior, more than ever, is traipsing into the territory that Uniqlo and the like hold court. In this court—of numbing mono-culture, why be different when you can be the same?

Photos: (left) Dior and (right) Uniqlo

A Ritual Beauty

With a strong, seductive collection this season, is JW Anderson London’s most engaging designer and captivating label?


JWA SS 2020 P1

We can’t really say why, but the first thing that we saw, charmed by JW Anderson’s collection for his eponymous label, are present-day maidens dressed for timeworn rituals in even more ancient sites, such as the Stonehenge. These pilgrims are togged for celebration; their organic-looking garbs suitably trimmed with what look like trinkets made in worship-worthy silver and gold, and crystal. Some of the drapey dresses come with decorated crystal/rope bust-cups, as if the wearers are of higher birth and deserving of the land’s weavers and craftsmen. Even the suits, with pants tied (or gathered) at the hem (forming part of the rope-sandal) to create a delectable slouch (which, interestingly, is also seen in Gucci’s fall 2019 campaign), have a high-priestess swagger about them. Some of the models-as-pagans wear cross-body bags with a trio of fringed pouches—possibly filled with food for the long hike? And those dresses with embellishment-framed cut-outs? Off to a fertility rite!

This isn’t pomp and pageantry, but there is a ceremonial splendour about it. This is dressed-up with attention to seemingly organic details and, perhaps unintended, symbols of emancipation and, clichéd as it might be, empowerment. We can’t ignore the sparkly ropes that frame the breasts in the shape of the infinity symbol, suggesting limitlessness, even eternity.  Or, as a figure eight, despite being on its side, like a reclining Buddha, a powerful homophone in Chinese culture that denotes prosperity. That these shall be the most sought-after dresses during the next Lunar New Year won’t surprise. Worn with a neo-Bohemian attitude, the effect is refreshing in a time when decked out means either Icon Ball-flashy or ‘blogshop’-backed influencer bosh.

JWA SS 2020 G1JWA SS 2020 G2

The craft-like approach to the clothes is, of course, not new to Mr Anderson. Since taking up the creative director position at Loewe in 2013, he has slowly pushed the Spanish label closer towards its artisanal roots, and, with the RTW, a folksy bent without crossing into shabby chic territory that Rachel Ashwell would approve. For his own line, he similarly approaches designing and embellishing with the spirit of crafts that are more in keeping with those found in villages than tribes, and yet the result is not hippy-fied or clothing you’d find in shops in Haight Ashbury, untouched by the passing of time.

As fashion is more and more consumed without considering the worth of the labour behind what is bought, or even the creativity and the skills, Mr Anderson’s ways with shapes and trims (in unexpected permutations and pairings) affirm that skilled hands are involved and can be enjoyed for the tactile qualities of the output too, in ways that are not only inspiring, but also heartfelt. Clothes like these require appreciation that’s not cursory or just visual; they invite both viewer and wearer to explore by touching and feeling.

JWA SS 2020 G3

The ‘traditional’ touches do not, however, mean old-fashioned or even classic. There is a good balance—stores will appreciate—between sufficient unusual pieces that will delight collectors (the jackets with Victorian silhouettes and their bumped up hips, which Mr Anderson described as “Antoinette-ish”) and the more accessible such as goddess gowns (for a pagan mission?), as well as knit dresses and their 3D geometric patterns. The accessories (bags with macrame attachments and fringes) and shoes (bejewelled, roped, espadrille-soled) will no doubt be hits of their own too.

In spirit, the collection may be described as post-modernist if we take into consideration how not linear it is aesthetically, how Mr Anderson has created his own cultural hybridity, tinged with the exotic, if we can call it that, and how natural—as in unforced—the result are. That every ensemble is a tad quirky helps his cause, for sure. We can’t wait to see what he shall be doing for Loewe in Paris.

Photos: JW Anderson

Tote Of The Season

If the latest Burberry collection is any indication, the tartan tote is the bag to have now. Joining the fray is this love child of JW Anderson and Uniqlo: a padded, nylon version that is totally able at playing cabin carrier or baby bag.

The partnership between JW Anderson and Uniqlo is launched today. It is one more to add to Uniqlo’s growing collaborations that adhere more to the Japanese brand’s strive for beautiful practicality than practically beautiful.

Lest we’re misconstrued, there’s nothing unlovely about this collaboration. Everything is very Uniqlo. That’s where it risks being a non-event. Mr Anderson is currently one of the UK’s most beloved designers and a much lauded innovator at the Spanish house of Loewe. With such an evocative name, more—reasonably so—is expected, but, as we know, rain doesn’t always come after thunder and lightning.

This is supposed to be a take on British classics. It is, however, no more English than Ines de la Fressange X Uniqlo is French. Inevitable are outers and sweaters that suggest country (or collegiate) life, shirts (for men and women) that won’t enliven a wardrobe, and scarves that look positively part of the uniform of Hogwarts. One skirt stood out, though: a flounced, maxi piece that wouldn’t be out of place on a flamenco dancer.

Back to the tote, this is one of those that we can never have enough. A roomy and light carryall (also available in red and black) that’s not too big, it is as ready for the gym as a weekend jaunt in Bangkok.

What’s especially useful is the little PU patch on the bottom right. In roughly one and half times larger than that found on the right of the rear waist band of jeans, it not only allows the JW Anderson logo—a stylised anchor— to be identified, it is also a pocket that’s perfect for totally wireless ear-buds or the CEPAS card. Now, that’s nifty.

Update (11.30am): all the tartan bags are sold out.

JW Anderson X Uniqlo tote, SGD49.90, is available at Uniqlo, Orchard Central and online at Photos: Zhao Xiangji

Note: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that JW Anderson X Uniqlo is available at Uniqlo ION Orchard. This is has been corrected

No Piecing Required For This Puzzle

Loewe X Ray Puzzle Bag

One of the XL versions of Loewe Puzzle Bag, spring/summer 2016

Design directors installed at storied fashion houses often embark to output not only a body of work in ready-to-wear, but also in accessories, especially bags. JW Anderson is no exception. His work at the Spanish house of Loewe has been much lauded and his introduction of the Puzzle Bag last year excited many a fashion editor, intrigued by a carry-much so oddly and unconventionally faceted.

According to Mr Anderson, this is an accidental bag. At one of his visits to the Loewe archive in Madrid, he found a fake leather bag that was so old that its upper was all peeling skin. “I traced the lines where it had cracked off the leather,” said Mr Anderson to the media, “and this very abstract shape came out. I said to my assistant, ‘I think this is the bag!’”

Note that Mr Anderson avoided the adjective ‘It’. Yet, the indeterminate geometry and much-appreciated roominess at once placed the Puzzle Bag in the ‘It’ category, even when such a grouping may spell a premature demise in an era of too many ‘It’ bags. Still, Loewe is having a rather healthy run with the bag, scoring big among fashion ‘listicles’ and street-style rankings. Surely, such visibility is a plus than a minus.

Loewe Puzzle bag AW 2015 pink

The Puzzle Bag in the Loewe autumn/winter 2015 collection

What’s really surprising is the speed in which the Puzzle Bag spawns what’s considered a men’s version. Successful women’s bags rarely cross into men’s wear. Carrying the Hermès Haut À Courroies does not mean you’re holding a male Birkin. Although it does not come branded as ‘homme’ or such gender-specific tags, the XL version (there are four sizes in all)—sans handle—is positioned to tempt the guys. It is not surprisingly that a man may be drawn to Puzzle Bag since the visual concept of the bag could appeal to those with a penchant for geometrical complexity.

The Puzzle Bag is assembled from 20-plus cuts of leather (or other material), allowing each plane to take on different colours and textures. This flexibility encourages experimentation, and Mr Anderson has been adventurous—in particular, the limited-edition X Ray Puzzle Bag (top). This XL version looks like it is made from a collage of manga pages, only more luxurious since it’s a juxtaposition of textured, embossed, printed, and calf leathers.  However you carry this Puzzle Bag, it is the magazine Nakayohi meets the district Roppongi!

Loewe X Ray Puzzle Bag, SGD7,550, is available at Casa Loewe, Paragon