Fall 2017 Menswear
January 20, 2017
• Junya Watanabe and…The North Face? This was one of the many unexpected collaborations that walked down the Japanese designer’s menswear runway this morning.
• A veritable streetwear bonanza, the show, which was held in the 15th arrondissement’s Electric Bridge venue—a clean, stark space in the middle of which Watanabe constructed a speaker sculpture of sorts—featured a slew of collaborations, with brands including Levi’s and Carhartt (the designer has worked with both of these labels previously), as well as Kangol, Gloverall (known for its warm toggle coats), Barbour, and more. There were 12 collaborations in all, though not all of Fall’s joint offerings were represented on the runway.
• “Vetements did it!” many young showgoers cried. “But Vuitton just worked with Supreme!” others moaned. Okay, sure, but Watanabe has been doing the streetwear thing for over a decade. He’s a designer with range, and many of his devoted clients and collectors were patrons of cult streetwear brands back when they launched and/or rose to fame in the ’90s. What’s more is that Watanabe and a handful of other labels under the CDG umbrella have been—sometimes quietly, sometimes overtly—championing collaborations for years. So let’s give some credit where credit is due.
• To that point, Fall 2017 was referred to as an “exploration of the street.” You don’t think Watanabe’s aware of what the new guard is up to? Come on now. As the kids say (or rather, type), “smh.”
• But back to North Face—this team-up was described as the “foundation for this collection.” Indeed, it was the most apparent partnership, with giant North Face logos immediately visible on workwear and varsity jackets, duffle bags, wool hats, and the like.
• The most interesting element of this union, however, was how Watanabe deconstructed The North Face’s signatures and worked them into his wares. For instance, backpacks were fused with branded coats to create an eye-catching hybrid, and elements from the brand’s duffle bags were dissected and repurposed as details on a number of garments.
• Wool coats with leather shoulder patches lent a decidedly upscale vibe to this collection, speaking to the crossover of the streetwear and luxury markets. Ditto for those little newsboy caps.
• Raver pants (a hunter green corduroy pair was a standout) and crisp, deep-blue denim abounded.
• An emphasis was placed on patches here, the most notable being fuzzy leopard print versions that appeared on the back of some baggy pants. Flashy. Fun.
• Said adornments were inspired by street art the designer saw during a recent excursion to San Francisco.
• With this collection, Watanabe tapped into the heart of what’s unfolding in menswear right now—and he did it with the intelligence and technical skill that have made his show an enduring favorite on the Paris menswear calendar.