The saying goes that once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. Not so long ago, Brandon Sun was offering a dystopian vision with military and run-down urban mobility — imagine the “Dark Angel” universe — in which things literally were tied together with strings. Now he’s focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel, the sense of coming together and out on the other side. Lyrics from Guns ’n’ Roses hit “November Rain” featured heavily on items, stating “never mind the darkness / we can still find a way.”
This season, the American designer widely channeled Americana and its cowboy ideal for men, as part of a reflection on what it means to be American. “In both cases, what it means has changed recently, and for men, that macho, cool and in control cowboy is no longer relevant,” he said during a showroom appointment. The lineup was rife with the familiar trappings of Western shirts, washed denims — these are starting to crop up on women, too — leather jackets, belts and buckles.
That didn’t mean Sun abandoned his signature splicing, reworking plaid patterns into sparse Western shirts, putting together jackets that were, say, half field jacket on the front, half laced-up Harley Davidson biker leathers on the back, or even reaching for more outré proposals. Cue a flamboyant fur coat that wouldn’t look out of place on a stereotypical Vegas pimp. Those went well with tongue-in-cheek references to “chronic scandal fatigue syndrome” and Sun’s men’s wear collective, the Excommunicated Boys Club.
It also provided him with a platform to leverage his love of textiles into an implicit commentary on origins. As American as the result felt, it owed it to brushed flannel from Osaka, hand-loomed English tweeds, denim from sustainable Italian mill Candiani or furs from Finland. “The idea of importing key elements of the garments speaks to who we are. As Americans, we are all imported,” he said.