The first model at the Junya Watanabe men’s show Friday morning carried a large black duffel bag by The North Face that he dumped at the foot of a bank of speakers pumping out hip-hop music. With that gesture, the designer appeared to be throwing down the gauntlet at any pretenders to the streetwear crown.
Elements from that duffel bag — including the handle — were spliced into outerwear, including a plaid workwear jacket, a red fisherman’s coat and a gray varsity jacket with bright yellow contrasting panels.
They anchored a lineup of urban staples adorned with the kind of next-level detail guaranteed to elevate them to collector status (see: furry leopard-print back pockets on drop-crotched raver jeans). A black hoodie was dotted with patches inspired by street art that Watanabe saw on a recent trip to San Francisco and featured padded biker-jacket panels on the sleeves.
Full graft-on biker sleeves, already a feature last season, appeared on everything from a khaki parka to a tweed peacoat. Smaller quilted leather patches were used to reinforce the shoulders of more classic tweed jackets.
With their shrunken proportions, they were probably the weakest link in this vibrant collection. By teaming with The North Face, Watanabe is planting his flag in the camp of a generation of young designers obsessed with Nineties sportswear — and coming up ahead of the pack.
While not new to collaborations, the Comme des Garçons-backed label boasted no fewer than a dozen this season. There were some brands it has tied up with before, like Levi’s and Carhartt, but also smaller firms like duffel coat manufacturer Gloverall and Japanese label Van Jacket.
A varsity jacket featured the latter’s slogan: “For the Young and the Young at Heart.” The same could be said of the entire collection.