For the longest time, Japanese designer Fumito Ganryu operated in the COMME des GARÇONS universe. A graduate of the prestigious Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, Ganryu started as a women’s pattern maker for Junya Watanabe in 2004. Having proved his talent, he was given his own menswear line in 2007, GANRYU. The line was a hit with hardcore menswear enthusiasts with an ear to the ground for cult Japanese brands, but for the most part, GANRYU remained under the radar.

Unlike most other COMME brands, Ganryu worked heavily on streetwear and workwear, though for him it could all be filed under casualwear. For a long time, you’d have been hard-pressed to find the brand outside Japan, but eventually it started to trickle into independent stores such as HAVEN and Union LA. Then, in 2017, COMME des GARÇONS suddenly shut down GANRYU without a word and Ganryu struck out on his own.

Now he has relaunched under the brand name Fumito Ganryu at the 94th edition of the Pitti Uomo fair in Florence.

Showing in a clean white space, a jarring contrast to Florentine ornateness, Ganryu presented a surfing-inspired collection that built on his previous work. I spoke with the designer a day earlier and he said that, while he didn’t have enough time to explore a more drastic departure from his line under CdG’s auspices, he will continue to take the brand in a more distinct direction in future.

This collection, set to an ambient soundtrack, began with two floor-sweeping hooded coats with a dropped shoulder, and I imagined that’s what monks might wear on a surfing trip. This kind of mashing that borders on surrealism is the juice of fashion, and more of the same came our way towards the end — this time the hooded robes done in a combination of denim and jersey.

The fare in between, however, was more prosaic. There were lots of jackets and pants in neoprene and other technical fabrics, with a mostly black, gray, and white palette broken up nicely by neon blue, acid green, yellow and red. There were also coaches jackets, a Ganryu staple, and so on.

Being Ganryu, it was all well executed, but I couldn’t help wishing for more. Nevertheless, having Ganryu back in the fashion world is a welcome development. I say fashion and not menswear because one thing that Ganryu stressed during our conversation was that he is interested in making garments without regard for the wearer’s sex. This doesn’t necessarily mean aiming for androgyny or unisex clothing, but the designer says he’d simply like to design without thinking about gender — and we’re certainly curious to see where this approach takes him. Welcome back.

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