Patrick Michael Hughes Men's Fashion Editor
New York Fashion Week held in early September is a marathon of women’s wear showings and numerous mixed gender to genderless collections. Inevitably punctuated is the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks of 2001 forever in the minds of the nation but especially demonstrative in the streets of lower Manhattan. Every season’s reflection of NYFW collections and fashion narratives conscious or unconscious are examined in the light of, what are the American statements beyond clothing this season? Questions and actions leading to more dialogue with questions.
There were two that IRK attend within the menswear market, striking strong American notes for Spring 2019. Kozaburo Akasaka presented ‘KOZABURO Live in NYC’ and Christopher Lowmen’s presentation ‘Glorious Olympics’. Both presentations featured live music one the Americas in the form of Chilean Psychedelic rock band named Follazoid and the later with a brass ensemble playing patriotic tunes and anthems.
KOZABURO LIVE IN NYC
For spring 2019 the brand presented a situation live show streamed across social media. The gathering was a mixture of collection, friends and collaborators the designer met over his time in New York City. J Brand was among the collaborators and was also a sponsor. Spring 2019 was an extension of his concept “Individual Globalism”. It was stated that this was the brands first real spring collection. Kozaburo believes that fashion can transcend cultural and political divisions and boundaries. In this collection he was looked to a help expand his concept exploring the and blending symbols of various cultures. The meanings behind yin and yan in China, Dojo in Japan and the Native American medicine wheel. Kozaburo looked to his childhood friend now a Buddhist Monk for further inspiration. “while the symbols themselves are meaningful, Kozaburo is more interested in the emotion that these symbols and purposeful designs bring. Heady senses to convey in a large hip East Village space with models mixing and melding with a live band, film presentation and a vodka bar.
Tangibly beyond concept, the clothing was beautifully crafted and tailored. There were sweeping coat silhouettes in twill and leather, superbly crafted high waist and fitted raw denim jeans, trucker jackets, suede ensembles with zippers, distressed t-shirts and silk shirts with prints and characters, highly textured rewoven denim a Kozaburo style. There were also velour jackets with the Kozaburo name embroidered on the from and more extensive designs on the back. Western and cowboy rebel are also design sensibilities the Japanese born and raised, British educated (Central Saint Martins) designer brings to his work. The styling as it has been in the past taps into a frontier full of possibility and big heavy distressed cowboy boots in suede and leather. The brand in the past has merged punk and cowboys bringing together subculture, Americana and Native American. Kozaburo likes borderless horizons and has credited his travels in Texas and New Mexico. Possibility is an aspect of the frontier. Banding together is also an aspect of the frontier, the evenings global live stream collaboration was richly diverse in language and background. IRK over heard at least four different languages at one point. Was this a statement about boarders?
This is my third time seeing the brand. The first was at his Parsons School of Design MFA collection showing for spring 2017, the second was at New York Men’s Day in 2017 this collection for spring 2019 held on September 10, 2018. I have followed his work with interest and even found myself using it as example of using experience as a design concept on a seven city speaking tour in China. KOZABURO is heralded as one of Parsons Fashion MFA breakout artist. His graduate thesis collection was awarded an LVMH special prize and was subsequently sold at Dover Street Market in New York and London.
What was confusing about KOZABURO’S spring 2019 collection was the choice of some of his fabric weights for a “first real spring collection.” I am particularly speaking of a navy blue velvet suit, a black wool suit with piping, velour track style jackets (a saturated market) as well as women’s biker style jacket in black-brushed beast fabrication. They did not communicate spring in New York. The strength in this collections are the consistent silhouette style leading to brand identity and excellent and unique tailoring in denim, leather, suede and twill. KOZABURO is a brand to watch and get to know.
CHRISTOPHER LOWMAN -GLORIOUS OLYMPICS
Christopher Lowman’s Spring 2019 collection is another chapter in the designer’s interest in the nineteen eighties. He looked to team USA of Olympics Games held in Moscow in 1980.This was a though provoking concept this since those were the games the US and many of its allies boycotted due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequently the Soviets boycotted the Los Angeles games in 1984. There was a glorious number of medals won by the Soviets in 1980 and even more embarrassingly number of medals won by the Americans in Los Angeles 1984. Was there a message about the Cold War and the current political dialogue?
Lowman’s Collection was a primarily red, white and blue with punctuated moments of gold, yellow and light blue. The uniform look of athletes was captured in tracksuits with mixing hues of blue. This was a menswear collection where the women wore men’s pieces. The standout silhouettes were the excellently tailored ‘new wave’ shawl blazers in navy and red with red white and blue details at the sleeve. The supple leather jackets were also highly covetable for a young client looking for new and takes on the motor jacket meets track jacket. The colors were ideal for spring clothing.
This is my second viewing of Christopher Lowman’s work. He is an all American native, New Yorker. His previous collection was titled “Harvard Punkd” spring 2018. It was a clever play on preppie trends from the eighties and preppie meets graffiti, a subtle nod rethinking statement clothing. Preppie and graffiti are still in play for spring 2019 in the ‘youthful campus appeal’ looks worn by the women on the back of a black biker jacket spray painted with USA.
Prideful national themes and sticking to what fascinates him is a good choice for Lowman. What I missed in spring 2019 were the tailored pants he showed in the past. There were too many non-descript elastic waist track pants, they did not all serve the collection nor build on brand identity. Lowman clearly has a talent and taste for tailoring and I wished there was more.
The venue was also noteworthy sweeping roof top views from a trendy boutique hotel at the edge of SoHo the most significant being the Empire State Building and the in your face view of the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan. The rain could not hinder their presence during the collections presentation.