Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton make a good point when they say the traditionally tailored suit has not kept pace with the mobile, fast-paced needs of guys today. Cycle to work in slim-fit trousers? Not fun. Stop by a party after work without changing first? Not cool. And yet, by drawing on certain Japanese tropes—kimono-style necklines, unstructured smock jackets, socks plus sandals, and accordion pleats that we invariably associate with Issey Miyake—the design duo were not outright denying the notion of tradition. They resolved any risk of a design double standard by keeping shapes loose, long, and, more often than not, rectangular. It can be liberating to leave the classic suit behind, which may explain how Mdumulla and Cotton self-imposed constraints elsewhere, such as the restricted color palette—dusky blues, white, gray, and camel—and a limited shuffling of silhouettes. Aprons, notably, functioned as a recurring mid-length layer. It takes some mastery of construction to work with pleats, and the selection from Agi & Sam came in a spectrum of fabrics, from pliant to stiff. But fewer and finer (say, as a vented panel on the back of a bomber) made a stronger impact than the maxi pants, their fluid lines broken awkwardly with each stride.
The designers proved strongest this season with their material focus; what looked to be a monochromatic brushstroke print and a checkerboard effect (meant to vaguely resemble the grouting on Japanese rooftops) were both raised atop their respective surfaces. Conversely, a poly-blend knit merino was pressed so that its texture appeared flatly striated. Mdumulla mentioned the desire to be more "relevant," and judging by the designers' peers in the audience—Christopher Raeburn and Thomas Tait among them—street cred is not an issue. Perhaps because Mdumulla and Cotton are becoming more confident, they expressed an oppositional goal to capture the angst and rebellion common among young men, particularly in Japan. Today, growing pains are summed up by a pair of pants.