Pihakapi’s first-ever collection, under the direction of Vejas Kruszewski, was an exploration of its parent company Pellemoda’s star material, leather. For those expecting the Canadian whiz kid on an upswing following his 2016 LVMH special prize win, this is a side step, not a stop sign.
The fall collection — with its leather “monkey boot” jacket, bubble wrap leather quilting and expected leather-enhanced pieces — did not deliver any radical experimentation from this “leather workshop for the future,” as described by its creative director. But it did point out some rather fetching ideas, such as the bonded leather and knits, or the technically challenging fused seams inside a leather coat.
It felt like the roadmap for a bridge between Kruszewski’s creative intentions and the new brand’s execution capabilities. When not using leather, its presence was suggested by applying its codes to fabric. On a shirt, it was a seam that reminded of the limitations imposed on pattern piece dimensions by the skins, or a sinuous hemline. Likewise, on a pair of white jeans, multiple belt loops offered the suggestion of leather accessories.
Elsewhere, Kruszewski tripped up by adding seams that felt neither decorative nor transformative. Leather and denim tops and trousers were nicely executed but far too expected. The materials and means are there, and it’s close, but this season, no cigar.