Shinichiro Ishibashi's Tokyo-based brand, KUON, gave New York Fashion Week a much-needed shot in the arm. Not by appealing to trends, mind you, but by delivering a luscious assortment of craft-conscious wearables enlivened by hands-on detailing.
This is the kinda stuff that gets me excited about clothing at all: brands that push the envelope of how contemporary menswear is made. To hell with the fast-fashion companies that rely on sweatshop labor: let's celebrate the brands that pay workers fairly for their labor (instead of relying on some vague, undefined "liveable wage").
With all of its garments produced in its native Japan, KUON not only has full control over its output but also is able to cut out the middleman, so to speak.
Relatively few, if any, outsourced labor costs mean that KUON's clothing really isn't exorbitantly expensive, despite being made of premium textiles and finished with painstaking detail.
That consideration of craft is evident from the second one peruses KUON's Fall/Winter 2022 collection, which the Japanese brand again presented at NYFW (Ishibashi once told me that, as someone who simply loves being in New York, he enjoys holding presentations here).
KUON's co-ed collection includes relaxed sweaters, shirts, and shorts that aren't necessarily designed to be genderfluid (KUON is ostensibly a menswear label) but the brand's easy cuts are intended to be accessible for all body types, Japanese or not.
That's a relatively rare feat, considering how many Japanese brands (understandably) fit their clothing using a domestic fit model, meaning that the proportions are often difficult to translate to an international audience.
But even more than the attractive palette and approachable silhouettes, the real appeal of Ishibashi's garments are their exquisite finishes, which include boro patchwork, sakiori-woven panels, contrasting sashiko stitching, and even some brilliant piping that recalls the technique of kintsugi, wherein cracks in porcelain containers are filled with gold to make them even more beautiful.
All in all, an attractive proposition that stands out starkly against the rather sleepy NYFW.