UNDERCOVER Men's Spring/Summer 2022. Paris, France
It seems like every UNDERCOVER runway show gets picked apart, as if its parts are greater than the sum. Consider the standout Evangelion items from FW21 or must-see Nike collabs that draw more headlines than the actual wearables. It's too bad, because the recent presentations have been some of Jun Takahashi's strongest to date, demonstrating an appreciable blend of the Japanese brand's usual streetwear inclinations with more advanced items, a through line that continues with SS22.
"ONCE IN A LIFETIME" is very much an UNDERCOVER joint, rooted in graphic flair and easy silhouettes but elevated with plenty of progressive garments like graphic-heavy outerwear and oversized yukata-style coats, reshaping casual staples with over-the-top visual impact. Illustrations grace hooded parkas, hoodies, matching sweat shorts, and big bomber jackets, hearkening to UNDERCOVER's youthful origin. There are sophisticated tonal sets and transforming Cordura coats, too, yielding a more mature look still rooted in Japanese tradition by monk-ish hats and zori-like sandals.
Text prints draw from UNDERCOVER's graphic legacy, again stretching its verbiage to include Buddhist mantras (Om mani padme hum) and the aforementioned artworks, with a greater emphasis on abstracted prints borrowed from Japanese rock band OGRE YOU ASSHOLE in place of UNDERCOVER's typical "U̲" logo. Now, though the collaborations aren't representative of the whole affair, it's worth calling out the nifty Eastpak partnership, hybridized Nike Air Force 1s, and some tall suede boots seemingly crafted by Guidi, edging UNDERCOVER's output ever closer to the realm of the artisanal.
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Cargo Eastpak Sets
Having already partnered on a variety of branded bags, UNDERCOVER and Eastpak are back at it but not on a line of accessories. This time, the duo is dishing out some cargo-pocketed sets graced by statement patterns and technical textiles. There are coats, hoodies, and elasticated-hem trousers all realized with deep double-zippered pockets and Eastpak's rubber branding, even executed in a retro grid camouflage that hearkens back to an OG UNDERCOVER pattern.
Padded Collarless Coats
Hopefully by SS22, no one is living under COVID-19-inspired lockdown, but there's no need to leave cozy duvet coats in the past. UNDERCOVER's spin on the shape is a massive collarless edition, padded for maximum comfort. Poncho-like in shape, the coats feature zippered pockets for easy storage and raised rear hems in homage to traditional Japanese shapes.
Vibram-Soled Field Boots
The Nike and Guidi shoes are this collection's must-see silhouettes, of course, but UNDERCOVER's in-line sneakers are no slouch. Recalling its past Nike collaborations (the React boot and SFB Mountain, specifically), this new field boot shape is plenty beefy, realized with matching prints and anchored by a Vibram sole.