March 21, 2019

Akiko Shinoda discusses why Japanese designers are too modest

japan fashion week Akiko Shinoda

Akiko Shinoda, the current director of international affairs at Japan Fashion Week, is on a mission to bring light to more Japanese creators. In an era where fashion is ultra connected, Japanese designers still remain focused on their local market which suffices to sustain business. As competition heats up, Japanese fashion may need to adapt or it will lose its position as a cultural leader.

Japanese should be looking to expand

For Akiko Shinoda, Japan’s fashion scene is as strong as ever. Local designers are in demand and as such not pressed to expand operations overseas. In addition, designers typically speak little to no English, often a barrier to pushing their work beyond. However, Shinoda wants this to change and for typically shy creators to go beyond their comfort zone and showcase their work elsewhere. By embracing uncertainty, local talent can become the pioneers of tomorrow.

A gilded age of fashion

Perhaps the most important take-away is how Japan’s global fashion revolution in the 80’s has run out of steam. Back then, designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons burst through the scene. It was then followed by the Urahara movement and the pioneers of streetwear such as Hiroshi Fujiwara, Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER, NIGO of A Bathing Ape, and Shinsuke Takizawa of NEIGHBORHOOD.  Today, very few designers have made headway with a few noteworthy exceptions. Shinoda notes that regional competitors such as Korea and China are making great strides to potentially dethrone Japan as a cultural powerhouse. For example, Korea leverages private business and government bodies to attract international demand. As such, Korea is taking the reins through K-Pop, K-Fashion and K-Beauty.

Why Japanese mindsets need to change

As Shinoda points, out, most Japanese designers focus on quality and craft above all else. This means that brands spend little to no time trying to branch their message out to international markets, losing out on potential opportunities. As such, Shinoda wants to leverage international events to tell these stories in greater depth and ensure Japan’s dominance continues. With fashion as a key export, we hope to see more Japanese designers break onto the scene.

March 21, 2019

The Nike Free 2019 is a breath of fresh air in the chunky sneaker era

Nike Free 2019 RN 5.0

The Nike Free shoe range of minimalist sneakers is largely out of style in the current era. Sneakers and fashion find themselves in a maximalist phase with ungodly proportions and gaudy logo overload. Despite this, the 2019 Free introduces a breath of fresh air. With the support of Nike’s industry-leading design, the lineup is still one of the best examples of purposeful footwear design.

Nike Free 2019 RN 5.0 Top Down

The 2019 Nike Free in depth

  • Two models, the 5.0 (seen with laces) and the 3.0 (without laces)
  • Lower profile outsole for greater proprioception
  • Firmer cushioning similar to the original 2004 model
  • Midsole siping allows for greater flexibility
  • Free RN 5.0 is 26% more flexible and 2mm lower to the ground
  • Free RN Flyknit 3.0 is 1mm lower to the ground

Nike Free 2019 RN 3.0

The argument for minimalist footwear

Minimalist footwear has, when used correctly, been considered a way to improve a runner’s technique. American author and journalist Christoper McDougall’s 2009 book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, ignited a movement. One of the focuses of the book were the Tarahumara Native American tribe. This tribe was able to run up to 100 miles with minor cushioning and without injury. This book, alongside studies from Harvard’s Dan Lieberman, would propel barefoot/minimalist running into the spotlight. The main takeaway was that barefoot/minimalist runners tended to land on their mid and forefoots. This footstrike style is in contrast to traditional heel-based cushioning which often results in violent impacts that lead to injury.

Nike Free 2019 RN 5.0 Outsole

Why we’re excited about the Free

The design of the Free itself combines just the right amount of “performance aesthetics” and balanced upper. The pod-like outsole with the sipes convey technical performance. In addition, the dynamic overlays of the upper feature aggressive cutouts. Some of the lacing options fail to mesh with the uppers, but this something that can be overlooked for now.

Nike Free 2019 RN 5.0 Top Down

Can the Free create a new conversation around minimalist footwear?

The popularity of minimalist footwear has ebbed and flowed significantly. At one point, Vibram Five Fingers were hard to miss and commanded a significant part of the running shoe narrative. We’re now at the opposite side of the spectrum with overbuilt, highly cushioned shoes become the flavor of the year. If we zoom out, there’s an interesting opportunity here. One of Nike’s key strengths is its ability to drive adoption and education. Unlike other offerings, the Nike Free is low frills. It’s a line that focuses on the innate capabilities of the foot. And the goals are to accentuate rather than drastically modify performance.

Over the past few seasons, the Nike and Errolson Hugh-designed Nike ACG initiated a movement. The Acronym co-founder essentially introduced the idea of techwear (not a term he coined) to a larger audience. Nike has massive amounts of distribution. They can push a certain narrative both directly or by proxy. It’s worth noting, the Nike Free may not have the same hype as ACG, but it most certainly has a more mainstream vector. It is, by and large, a more approachable product. The ideas of minimalism in footwear might be finding a strong opportunity ahead.

Nike Free 2019 RN 5.0 Heel

March 19, 2019

Cinéma Vérité is a modern fashion interpretation of classic French cinema

Cinema Verite Fashion Clothing

Cinéma Vérité is a fashion project rooted in highlighting the importance of French New Wave cinema for an upcoming generation. The new brand emerges under the vision of two elusive French creatives. For both, the creative process can be challenging, with each posted up in Paris and Los Angeles, respectively, but a unified vision has been a contributing factor to making this a reality. It was a choice meeting in Montréal that led the two to connect over the genre of French cinema known as “La Nouvelle Vague.”

The “New Wave” as it’s known in English was a pivotal moment in filmmaking. The genre took root in the late ’50s and ’60s and looked beyond the conventions of traditional films. The films were characterized by innovation, distinct visual language, and arresting colors. The young directors of the time created new narratives. It meant rewriting traditional codes, composition, and color usages. In addition, new technological developments also gave them the freedom to be mobile.

A short self-directed video on the inspiration behind Cinéma Vérité.

Cinéma Vérité is an amalgamation of many inspirations. It’s also 12 years of collective brand-building experience between the two. The hopeful outcome is a modern interpretation of an important cultural movement. We asked a few questions to gain a bit more insight into the importance of the movie genre and the difficulty behind such a conceptual concept.

You can find out more about the brand via their website and follow them on Instagram.

Is there anything lost in translation when you’re going from the original medium to fashion?

We’re starting from scratch so everything we do is a mountain to climb. It’s “learning as we go as they say.” As graphic designers, we tend to get super picky about specific things like a Pantone color, for example. It could mean getting the right shade of red taken from a Godard film, and then translating it into fabric. Sometimes it takes multiple rounds of samples to get something we’re satisfied with.

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

What concepts of the French New Wave are relevant today or do you think should re-emerge?

We have existing examples of the French New Wave ethos today. It could be Steven Soderbergh using iPhone to shoot films. Or the way Wes Anderson composes his frames. They’re concepts from the French Wave.

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

Could you elaborate more on the practical concepts of the movement?

The core concept of the movement was that creativity shouldn’t be slowed down by the limitation of their creative tools. They embraced the technology available at the time. They took their cameras outside of the studios to shoot real life and they captured sound as they shot rather than making it in post-production.

Today our tools are more intuitive, cheaper, and portable. Any ideas can be put on paper without any limitations. The dream of that generation of filmmakers from the ’50s and ’60s took ideas and made them real. Like today, it’s a wonderful time to be a creative.

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

If somebody wants to get into French New Wave, where should they start?

The best way to dive into the genre is to start with Truffaut and Godard. From there, you can explore Alain Resnais, Jacques Demy, and the documentaries of Agnès Varda.

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

Cinema Verite Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

March 18, 2019

Uniqlo has an important cultural piece for global expansion

Uniqlo is a brand with an ironic history. Its original name was Unique Clothing Warehouse. The literal translation of the name is something that marks many Japanese brands. But for anybody who has experienced the brand, there’s little in the form of uniqueness. Since its start in 1984, the brand has plowed its way to the top of Japanese fashion. Founder Tadashi Yanai now counts himself as the richest person in Japan. But one part of the Uniqlo empire is incomplete: The United States. How will the Japanese purveyor of basics make the move across the Atlantic? And how will it circumvent the mistakes of a fellow American staple brand, the Gap?

For those unfamiliar with Uniqlo

  • It’s about low-priced items, that have enough distinguishable quality
  • The lines often avoid trendiness and fashion, and instead focus on practicality
  • Jeans for USD 40
  • Hoodies for USD 30
  • Down Jackets for USD 70
  • 800 stores in Japan
  • 50 stores or so in the U.S. operating at a loss

The Gap comparison

Much like the Gap, Uniqlo features a line of clean and minimal offerings. As it stands, much of Uniqlo’s weakness is due to unsuccessful stores in the suburbs. Steve Rowen of Retail Systems Research, suggests a better strategy. Focus on big cities. It’s these markets which are true to the core and identity of the brand. The Gap made the mistake of pushing into new markets with customers that weren’t ready. But beyond that, the American and global job market is undergoing a huge transition. Younger entrants are stuck with grim prospects and smaller salaries. There’s also the angle that conspicuous consumption isn’t entirely well in most sectors.

The “barbell” sweetspot of fashion

A quick search of #OOTD (outfit of the day) often reveals ample amounts of Uniqlo. This is mostly true for people sharing their outfits in Asia. There’s a secondary group that’s emerging around the international fashion savvy. Uniqlo offers a solid complement to outfits for their versatility and “just enough design.” Meaning enough design to look considered. It’s clear that the high-low interaction in fashion is the new norm. Brands like Uniqlo will continue to play a part as the power of the millennial dollar stagnates. An added element of interest lies in Uniqlo’s collaborations. UNDERCOVER, KAWS, J.W. Anderson, Jil Sander, and Alexander Wang command respect within fashion. They’re continued opportunities for Uniqlo to signal their understanding and commitment to fashion.

Undone by Marie Kondo?

The Marie Kondo effect has hit consumer America in full force. Thrift stores are denying donations due to the massive influx post-Netflix series. Will Kondo’s effect push the Western world towards more considered consumption? Uniqlo’s gameplan is not be the star of the wardrobe show and not necessarily spark joy. Can fast fashion turn the corner?

The international cultural piece

John C. Jay serves as President of Global Creative at Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo. What puts Uniqlo in a position to succeed is arguably Jay’s vision and his connections. He spent many successful years at Weiden + Kennedy, helping establish the agency as a key partner to Nike. It’s his blend of vision and capability that will a big part of Uniqlo’s success outside of Asia. Many aim to connect Asia and the Americas, but what Jay offers is many cultural vectors. This could be music, art, design, fashion and more. With Uniqlo as the platform, the pieces are lining up.

March 16, 2019

Potato Head release some vibey pieces and a collaboration with Gasius for their Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

Potato Head Bali Gassius Spring/Summer 2019 collection

Potato Head, the part beach club, part cultural phenomenon, is back with another collection of sartorial bangers. This comes as a follow-up of their most recent releases with DJ Peggy Gou. As is often the case, Potato Head’s Balinese roots serve as the inspiration for this Spring/Summer 2019 lineup.

Their proverbial backyard inspired the collection’s motifs, including Borneo’s indigenous Dayak people, endangered Sumatran tigers, original photos from Dr. Lawrence Blair’s “Ring of Fire” series, and original artwork by Indonesian artist, Ryan Ady Putra. For those who may be unfamiliar with his work, Putra is a big part of the Yogyakarta-based cult label, Domestik. Potato Head caps things off with the help of UK-based designer Gasius, resulting in a beautiful five-piece assortment. In classic Gasius style, the pieces are quirky, with a unique story only he could conceptualize and bring to the Potato Head audience.

The collection is available now at the club’s webstore and Dover Street Market.

Check out our piece Beyond the Beach Club — Celebrating Bali at the Launch of Indonesia Now to find out more on the emerging creative scene in Bali.

Watch the video for the full story behind the Gasius collection.

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girls

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girl

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girl

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girl

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girl

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girl

Potato Head Bali Beach Hawaiian shirt Spring/Summer 2019 collection girl

Potato Head Bali Gassius Spring/Summer 2019 collection Hawaiian shirt

Potato Head Bali Gassius Spring/Summer 2019 collection Hawaiian shirt

Potato Head Bali Gassius Spring/Summer 2019 collection t-shirt

Potato Head Bali Gassius Spring/Summer 2019 collection t-shirt

Potato Head Bali Gassius Spring/Summer 2019 collection beach dog t-shirt

Potato Head Bali Spring/Summer 2019 collection Hawaiian shirt palm trees

Potato Head Bali Spring/Summer 2019 collection Hawaiian shirt girls palm trees

March 15, 2019

LVMH moves swiftly to cancel all Michael Jackson-inspired pieces from the Virgil Abloh-designed Fall/Winter 2019 collection

LVMH Virgil Abloh Michael Jackson Collection Cancellation

LVMH distanced itself from the recent controversy surrounding Michael Jackson. The recent and damning Leaving Neverland documentary focused on Jackson’s serious allegations of sexual abuse. The pop star was an integral part of Virgil Abloh’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection.

Quotes from WWD on the LVMH situation

“I am aware that in light of this documentary the show has caused emotional reactions. I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights.”

– Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton Menswear

“We find the allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing. Child safety and welfare is of utmost importance to Louis Vuitton. We are fully committed to advocating this cause.”

– Michael Burke, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton

Final thoughts

Earlier this week, Virgil Abloh was part of an expansive feature in The New Yorker magazine. When asked about his stance on Michael Jackson, Abloh deflected the controversy altogether and instead elected to take a more positive and inspirational slant. However, it’s clear that social pressures were far too much for LVMH and Abloh to bear. Ultimately, the company made the right decision in not producing the Michael Jackson pieces. More importantly, it changes the dialog from LVMH as a potential villain to a culturally aware and sensitive fashion house.

March 15, 2019

Tinker Hatfield's two most iconic designs are mashed-up to create the Air Jordan III Tinker "Air Max I"


Nike honors the work of legendary designer Tinker Hatfield in this commemorative release. The Air Jordan III Tinker “Air Max I” mashes up two of Hatfield’s icons, the University Red Air Max 1 and the Air Jordan III. It’s essentially a cheat code to put together two icons in this capacity, but it’s passable as an homage for the consumer-focused holiday. The added highlight is an interchangeable Swoosh featuring several different colors.

The Air Jordan III Tinker “Air Max I” releases March 30 at select retailers globally.

March 14, 2019

Louis Vuitton's Michael Jackson-inspired collection's future is in question after the release of shocking 'Leaving Neverland' documentary

LVMH Virgil Abloh Michael Jackson Neverland

On January 17th, Louis Vuitton presented Virgil Abloh’s second menswear show for the brand. The collection was inspired by Michael Jackson, and received rave reviews from industry insiders. Eight days later, Leaving Neverland debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The two-part documentary sees two of Michael Jackson’s victims detail the abuse they suffered at the hands of the iconic pop star. The fallout hasn’t quite taken full effect but raises questions as to how LVMH and Abloh will react. 

While the collection is inspired by Michael Jackson’s life and style, Abloh told the New Yorker in a recent feature that he wanted to focus on “the Michael that I thought was universally accepted, the good side, his humanitarian self.” Claiming not to have heard about the documentary. Regardless of whether Abloh or Louis Vuitton were aware of the extent of Jackson’s crimes, the question remains: what happens now?

The options

Two obvious options stand: to pull the entire collection, showing the brand to be pioneering in their approach to handling celebrities with problems; or to leave the collection as it is, potentially suffering from bad sales and backlash from the public. Anne Hunter, executive vice president of strategy and growth at Kantar Consulting notes that “If the clothes stand on their own… they can still be a success, there may be less willingness for shoppers to want to wear clothing that signals allegiance to the performer. A great, white, blousy shirt inspired by Jackson is desirable as a fashion item on its own and should still do well. A shirt with Michael Jackson’s image may not.”

Abloh’s stance on those surrounding sexual abuse

Virgil has not been quick to distance himself from the controversy surrounding topics of sexual abuse. The statement around Michael Jackson ultimately failed to address the severity of the allegations. In other instances that predate this recent controversy with Jackson, Ian Connor is another example of somebody whom Abloh has kept in the shadows. The stylist has been accused on several fronts for sexual assault. Despite countless calls from the public, Abloh never addressed his relationship with Connor.

The decision to be made by Louis Vuitton is not an easy one, but will provide valuable insight as to whether an artist’s work and creative legacy can be separated from their personal life.

March 13, 2019

Nike Unveils New Kits Ahead Of 2019 Women's World Cup

nike women's world cup sports

Nike has unveiled its brand new kits ahead of this year’s Women’s World cup. Mark Parker, the firm’s Chairman and President noted “We believe this summer can be another turning point for the growth of women’s football” after Nike gathered 40 of the world’s top female footballers in Paris to unveil 14 national team collections.

Supporting Elite Sport

Nike announced its three-year partnership with UEFA Women’s Football and will become the match ball supplier for future competitions. In addition, the company will support UEFA’s five-year plan to make football the leading female team sport across Europe. Currently, Nike backs football programs from North America to China along with partnerships with the WNBA, FIBA and the CBA to develop women’s basketball.

Nike Is Inspiring Future Athletes

The swoosh brand leveraged its community partnerships and product distribution to help girls and women access and play sports with confidence. Nike’s initiatives range from training female coaches to introducing products such as the Pro Hijab or the Classic Sports Bra. As women’s sports garner greater importance, sportswear firms are taking paying attention and tapping into new markets.

A History Of New Initiatives

In addition to their unique designs, all the kits benefit from cutting edge innovations:

  • All jerseys are made from recycled bottles. In fact, the company recycles more than 1 billion plastic bottles into new products.
  • 4D scanning and motion capture to develop products that support all shapes and sports interests.

As far as sports initiatives go, Nike is doing things properly. Its inclusive attitude backed by its vast access to data and technology help the firm gear up for an exciting and groundbreaking occasion. Whatever the outcome, all of us are excited to see the teams duel it out later this year. Ultimately, it should make for very exciting viewing.

What does it mean for women’s sports?

Nike has continued to put its money where it’s mouth is it. Women have traditionally experienced the run off of men’s products. Existing silos are shrunk down and “pinkified.” Nike has continued to provide unique products built from the ground up and provides excitement and inspiration to the next budding athlete.

March 12, 2019

Military-inspired "grunt style" and warcore are emerging as strong trends in fashion

Military inspirations are nothing new to modern fashion. One only needs to look at the consistent references of camouflage and the heralded M-65/M-51s jackets as a good example of their prevalence. But more recently, fashion week has shown a more “tactical” side falling under the lens of Grunt Style and Warcore.

What is Grunt Style?

Military-inspired fashion movements like has recently hit viral levels. The website, created by former Army drill sergeant Daniel Alarik, sells clothing emblazoned with patriotic slogans and graphics like an American flag on which the stripes have been exchanged for rifles. The word ‘grunt’ is military slang for an infantryman. The site is not marketed at young fashionistas, but has risen to popularity in a time when fashion’s leading names are becoming more fascinated by the straps, loops, and pockets of military clothing.

What is Warcore?

“Warcore” is the term that Vogue has used to dub the new trend for the ‘tactical’ items that are growing more common on the runways of Fashion Weeks. Virgil Abloh’s Spring 2019 menswear show exhibited a fluorescent-yellow tactical vest while Lyst, a fashion-search platform reports a 38% rise in searches for camouflage.

The Ethics of Military Fashion

While it’s a fact that fashion is turning more frequently, and often applying military design elements to the extremes, the question of ethics is up for debate. In 1996, Suzy Menkes wrote for the Times: “The linkage of fashion with war is problematical, [the] raiding of blood-soaked references [might] seem crassly exploitative.”

The fetishization of contemporary military grade apparel looks to have hit an all-time high in 2019. Why? War is ubiquitous and parts of fashion have really embraced functionality through movements such as techwear which bring urban functionality into at times whimsical outfits. But the real overarching reason lies in the fact that many consumers aren’t concerned with the ramifications and authenticity of products.

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