Common Sleeve is literally the best idea in underground Japanese fashion right now, I wrote about the A/W 2011 collection an age ago here, but it is with this latest collection that the concept seems to be coming together. For those unfamiliar with the concept, under the direction of Yeah Right!! it takes the brightest lights in the Japanese street fashion scene including Christian Dada, Hiro, Juvenile Hall Rollcall, Potto, Stof, Hisui, Bodysong and Children of Discordance and has them create outerwear with universally swappable sleeves. So you can create your own jacket with any combination of the above brands, they all fit together nicely and given that the designers involved are all generally moving in the same direction, look pretty good in any fusion.
The original idea behind this was that people could share arms with their friends and so on, creating a nice sense of community and being a really laudable concept all round for uniting fans of this group of designers. The only problem is that it turns out that not even the street kids smoking in front of Cannabis were chilled enough to part with something they have paid a considerable amount of money for to a friend, and that is not to even touch the issue of swapping an expensive studded leather sleeve for a denim one. So an idea that might just about work in a wardrobe sharing couple like your humble writer’s case, meant that most people only “shared” the sleeves within their own wardrobe. A shame, but such is life, however, with the current collection that problem has been neatly resolved in the simplest possible way – you can now buy the sleeves separately!
With this neat change in place you only need to buy one outer (at a slightly premium price) and then change the arms for as little as 6000 yen. Given that a lot of people can’t really afford two full priced outers per season, I am optimistic that this should give this project the boost it needs to make this an ongoing feature of all these designers work, rather than just for a couple of items per season. I mean, imagine the possibilites if EVERY item in a collection was Common Sleeve compatible…
Some examples of what is possible:
And some of my favorite individual elements – for me the body I would start with has to be the Christian Dada coat with the Jesus embroidery sleeves, and then I could have some fun with the following:
The real potential of this project is how it can unite a group of designers who are already stocked in the same shops (and are often on friendly terms with each other), to form one really strong whole. On their own they might be respectively still a bit niche in the grand scheme of fashion, but together they have the support and awareness to reach out to the media and a new wider audience.
You can pre-order the whole collection here, and do let me know what your dream combination would be.