This weekend marked the launch of Loewe’s capsule collection in collaboration with Junya Watanabe. Displayed at both Dover Street Market in London and Jeffrey in New York, the collection fuses the identity of both brands to create a series of leather-denim hybrids, with notes of tartan and polka dot scattered throughout.
Junya Watanabe launched his own line in 2001 off the back of Comme des Garçons, where he worked as a protégé to Rei Kawakubo for just under ten years. He quickly established an avant-garde approach to tailoring, deconstructing fabric and rebuilding contorted plays on Western silhouettes. His conceptual designs gained him the title of a “Techno-couture” designer for his technical, innovative approach to construction, playing on patterns and
"The collaboration marks 400 years since the countries established trade, when the Japanese samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga embarked across Europe on a diplomatic trip to the Vatican in Rome"
Some may have thought it a bold move to thread his unconventional disfigurement through Loewe, the oldest luxury Spanish fashion house, and potentially the only one to be held in such high revere. However, Watanabe injects a rogue punch into the artisan Napa leather, such as signature heavy double zips and coloured patchwork; distressed panels and playful turn-ups. On the other side of the coin, the Watanabe slashes and complex folds have been reigned in and softened by Loewe’s subtle charm.
Despite their dissimilarities, both brands share common links, such as their affiliation with travel. Loewe luggage is iconic, while Watanabe’s gentlemen
repeatedly lean to that of a itinerant, a theme taken literally in his S/S09 collection where models carried vintage suitcases to the Ringo Starr track “Sentimental Journey”, while his female collection was underpinned by tribal references and girls wore towering sheaves in their hair.
The collaboration between Junya Watanabe and Loewe goes deeper than just textiles, as it also marks 400 years since the countries established trade, when the Japanese samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga embarked across Europe on a diplomatic trip to the Vatican in Rome. Somewhere within their collection of embossment, polka dot and denim is a thread of history, where a galleon docked on a Spanish harbour in 1613.
Text by Mhairi Graham