“Tribe” is one word you never escape in Japanese fashion, after all it is the simplest way of coming to terms with the fact that despite the homogeneity of race, urban Japan is the most visually divided place on the planet. As people segregate themselves into ever smaller groups to somehow contain the enormity of the city, they create their uniforms and that is where you get your Zoku, your Tribes, your –kei. In their S/S 2012 collection presented as part of Versus Tokyo, which was itself part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo, Discovered reached back into their own formative years of fashion in the 90s, delving deep into the buzz of Ura-Harajuku and Biker gangs.
The 90s over-sized fit was back in force, so too was sporty fabrics, but tempered by combining them with incongruous leather and of course the strong blue that permeated the collection. The other deviation from this love-letter to the 90s was the relatively subtle use of geometric tribal prints which kept the collection in the present along with a heavy amount of very current layering.
The show itself took place outside in Midtown Tokyo, allowing the soundtrack of the collection to be the hum of Tokyo traffic, the lighting barely above normal street level and obviously because this was Versus Tokyo, it was the public who lined up to watch. In short it was an anti-industry show, free of some of the usual cliches (which annoyed photographers in need of decent lighting no end) and put on for the fans above all else. Just like the creative boom of the late 90s, this was a nod to designers creating their own space, their own means for communication and in doing so defining their own tribe.
The padded vests were a surprise success as far as I am concerned and along with the gang references spoke of an aggression that much of last Tokyo fashion week lacked.
A less than subtle allusion to the 90s, but kept fresh with that heavy layering to give it a nice skirted effect and of course the use of leather.
Never thought I would be happy to see the baggy sweatshirt / gold chain combo back!
All in all it was a surprisingly strong showing that has really grown on me in the month or so since I saw it (but I always find that with Discovered). Sometimes a collection is so intrinsically located in the city that it gets lost in the pristine atmosphere of fashion week, it is only when you start to locate it in the city and start spotting the influences on the street that you really understand what the brand is getting at.
If you are outside Japan then there are a whole load of stockists in Asia, but anyone else is going to have to go through Zozo or similar to get hold of the stuff (full list here).