"Reworked classics," as the beyond-tired menswear cliché goes. At Pitti Uomo, the menswear mecca that is ground zero for Italian tailoring, linen dandyism and street style peacocks, emphasis is placed on the latter, rather than the former. Over the years, Pitti has hosted all sorts of oddball designers — including Rick Owens, Hood By Air, and this year's headliner, Craig Green — but its business is built around the sprawling tradeshow, where hall after hall is packed with slightly different versions of the same wardrobe pieces men have been wearing for years. Think Italian suits, brown leather shoes and high-spec outerwear.
This year, Pitti invited Shinpei Yamagishi's Bed J.W. Ford, a brand that as yet remains pretty obscure in the West, to show its SS19 collection to the world. Yamagishi looked to 20th-century equestrian clothing for inspiration, a move that couldn't be further from the sports-luxe aesthetic that rules the fashion world these days. As the designer explained through his translator, his label celebrates dressing up for the sake of dressing up.
After scouring old British shopping catalogues stuffed full of horse-riding clothes, Yamagishi put stirrup pants on the runway (stick that up your athleisure), and enlisted a Kyoto kimono painter to produce some suitably equestrian visuals. Rider's jackets, forever made with old-timey wools, were reworked with synthetic fabrics, while cuban-heeled Western boots were sliced from the ankle up, ending up like some sort of weirdo cowboy loafer.
Yamagishi wasn't afraid to play with his pieces — he had outerwear that was cut like a suit jacket, then blown up to overcoat proportions, while straps snaked their way out of blazers and belts were clenched tight round ankles. The event closed with teasers of an adidas collab: a Trefoil-adorned parka, which marched its way down the runway, bringing Yamagishi's horseriders right up to the here and now.
At an event packed with traditional tailoring, in an industry that's fawning over the latest streetwear sensations, Bed J.W. Ford's take on old-school clothing is a breath of fresh air. With work that's this innovative, Yamagishi truly is doing justice to menswear's favorite cliché. Long live Bed J.W. Ford and its reworked classics.