Sometimes, to really see something, distance helps. That may explain the paradox that some of the premier interpreters—or reinterpreters—of Americana have been Japanese. First among equals has been Hiroki Nakamura, who founded his men's label, Visvim, fourteen years ago in homage to the vintage American workwear pieces he'd been stockpiling—the kind that were a craze in 1980s Tokyo. Nakamura's vision was always to create something new with the patina of something old, and to do it honestly enough that it would one day fulfill its destiny as the real thing. "I started our brand because I wanted to make something authentic," he said at his presentation today. "I hope these will all be vintage in the future."
Nakamura's menswear has won fans at the most rarified levels of fashion—it's stocked at Dover Street Market, 10 Corso Como, and so on—and last season, inspired by his wife (and now collaborator), he launched women's. The collection is characterized by the same obsessive attention to detail that infuses the men's: the custom-developed fabrics, the artisans commissioned to weave bags and do traditional Navajo patterning, enough about dyeing to fill a textbook. Many of the dyes are natural, including cochineal—that is, bug-larva derived—dyes, and often hand-rubbed for a unique finish. Some of the natural dyes themselves are open to the whims of nature. "If you work with bacteria instead of humans…" Nakamura shrugged. "I'm working with bacteria." For those inclined to cherish the process as well as the product, Visvim's wares will be as welcome as manna.
At a slightly less granular—or, indeed, molecular—level, the look of Visvim is probably closest to an uncommonly stylish barn dance, with indigo-dyed tunic dresses; tiered bandana-print frocks; patchwork skirts; and high, bison-leather boots. Accordingly, your enthusiasm for these pieces may depend on how excited you can get about the prospect of hand-spun hemp shoelaces. (No detail too small.) But Visvim's devoted audience in the world of menswear suggests that woman is out there. Here's her welcome to the dance.
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