"America is a first-rate place," declaimed a sampled voice on the soundtrack, as Junya Watanabe continued his exploration of all-American cultural icons. At the heart of this collection was a collaboration with Nike, featuring a range of shoes that were exact replicas of 30-year-old models, but Converse, Champion, Levi's, Kangol, and Lacoste logos also appeared in various hybrid forms. No, they're not all U.S. companies, but they've all put down solid roots in the land of the free, home of the brand extension.
The hybrid is Watanabe's idealhere, it was spectacularly expressed in tracksuits transformed into tailored suits, an ingenious but entirely logical combination of two modern male uniforms. A Levi's jean jacket, meanwhile, was recut in the synthetic primaries one associates with workout wear. Better yet, Champion sweatshirting was transmogrified into a biker jacket. In a season that's gone sports-mad, these were some of the smartest ideas on display. The same cannot be said, though, for the retro sports uniforms that crowded the catwalk for the finalethose were too much A League of Their Own.
As the soundtrack suggested, there is a healthy dollop of irony in everything Watanabe does, but after the show, he sounded genuine when he claimed that his menswear is much more an exercise in nostalgia than technology or experimentation. And from this collection, it was clear that he regards the past with a humorous, but loving, eye.