Balmung’s Tokyo based designer Hachi continues to find his inspiration in the city, but whereas his last collection focused on the urban landscape, this time he is looking towards it’s inhabitants and the connections between them. Officially titled “Grey Boy and Grey Girl”, the collection is a visual story told between two individuals barely defined in ghostly grays, amorphous shapes and abstract prints. At first all you can see is the distance – the clothes that stand away from the body, physically separating the wearer from others and indeed, in fashion terms, the world at large, but soon you start to see the comfortingly soft fabrics, and between the two wearers a sense of intimacy. This is Balmung’s love story:
I am loathed as ever to use the word “male” or “female” around a collection like this, or even “unisex”. Suffice to say that Balmung’s clothes hide the body to such an extent that such terms are meaningless in practice, the wearer’s identity shining through above all else, and as you will see below, the clothes become a useful tool to transcend ideas of unisex gendered clothes. Balmung’s clothes have always existed as a way to visually define yourself outside an otherwise relatively conservative Tokyo, but with this collection he has taken it a step further to opt-out, but still fit in with other ephemeral acolytes.
It goes without saying that pop-culture plays a large role in the collection. For example, at this shoot the TV was displaying a Final Fantasy game, and you couldn’t help but think of his couple as a pair of outcasts nestled away in a duvet playing games through the day and night.
Balmung has always been a fan of grey, and indeed as you can read above, treats it as a talisman of sorts. On the subject of text, this is actually his first collection to use printed words, and especially when paired with the more cartoonish illustrations, including some by friend of the site Borutanext5, the collection feels like his first to place prints at the forefront. Interestingly the prints suspended away from the obfuscated body tie into the idea of identity I have been skirting around thus far, in that it is almost as if the clothes hide the body, but the prints add a sense of identity. In that way no-matter what the age/gender identity of the wearer, it is the orbiting symbols around the clothes that define the wearer.
Moving on to the showroom and you can see that Balmung’s quality of materials has increased hugely this season.
A print in collaboration with Borutanext5, I love how the eyes peep out from the digital fog.
The stylised text riffs around “grey” in Japanese, crucially avoiding the loan word spelling in katakana and opting for the original Japanese word that has a lot more nuance that you may or not be aware of.
When worn in an un-styled way the impact of the clothes becomes all the more obvious, and whereas in some previous collections the fashion overwhelmed the body, this time Hachi has found a way to let it actually complement it and draw attention to the wearer.
Converts to Balmung’s vision of lost boys and girls would do well to shop the collection at Tokyo’s finest underground boutiques such as Candy, Wut Berlin, Gokai in Akihabara, Hayatochiri in Koenji and so on, and we will be bringing in the New Year here at Tokyo Telephone with a whole lot more from the brightest lights in Tokyo’s fashion future.