For his latest men’s offering, Junya Watanabe turned his gaze westward from his home country of Japan, while remaining focused on the geographical East. He was inspired by a series of photographs that Jamie Hawkesworth took during his travels in Bhutan.
“It’s such an incredible feeling turning up to a place with no ideas or expectations, and just walking and exploring and taking photographs — it’s incredible what you find,” Hawkesworth was quoted as saying in the show notes.
Watanabe showed relaxed, travel-ready silhouettes and a variety of Asian-inspired prints. For the latter, he incorporated works from several different contemporary artists, including Thai illustrator Phannapast Taychamaythakool, Chinese artist Rlon Wang, Nepalese artist Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Japanese pop artist Keiichi Tanaami, and Vietnamese children’s book illustrators Phung Nguyen Quang and Huynh Kim Lien. With their bright colors and intricate patterns, the prints elevated white T-shirts and provided pops of color to the linings of blazers, which were sometimes worn inside-out to show their full effect.
Both bottoms and suiting pieces blended comfort with elegance. Drop-crotch pants with drawstrings at the ankles, loose shorts, and wide-legged, calf-length culottes were reminiscent of the wardrobe often associated with backpackers in Asia, and loosely tailored jackets had subtle detailing such as frayed hems or contrast, quilt-like stitching. Leather sandals, straw hats, and printed sling bags finished off the looks.
Watanabe also collaborated with a variety of major brands on pieces that had a sportier or more rugged vibe, while still sticking with the overall theme: jackets by Karrimor, The North Face and ArkAir, as well as sarouel pants by Levi’s and Dickies. To complete the experience, he also hung blown-up versions of Hawkesworth’s photos along the runway, and accompanied the show with a soundtrack by famed composed Ryuichi Sakamoto.