Matohu is a brand devoted to keeping traditional Japanese fashion alive, not simply through direct references to Japanese clothing as exemplified by Araisara, but rather by focusing on the fundamental principles of aesthetics have done more than anyone to further understanding of the subject beyond the wabi and sabi that most people seem to be content with. Their A/W 2012-13 collection as part of Tokyo Fashion Week wasn’t anything verging on a departure from the graceful silhouette they are renowned for, and indeed many of the items were gentle reworkings of their core output (and no bad thing either), but channeled through this year’s theme – yatsushi. It is a term that very broadly refers to a reduction, of expressing something of grandeur in a humble way. This is not to be confused with quality that has become worn and shabby, but rather the process of creating something modest and unpretentious that is imbued with a connection to something altogether more meaningful. Traditional Japanese ceramics that form part of the tea-ceremony are a perfect example of this in action, and if that is Matohu then by contrast Harajuku street fashion must be noritake.
But it is on that last note that Matohu is such an exciting brand these days. One of my best gauges for trends in Japanese fashion is actually a friend of mine who runs a popular second hand brand shop – and what is he stocking? All the Matohu he can get his hands on. Add to that the strength of the fashion industry’s endorsement of the last two Tokyo Fashion Week shows, and it looks like Matohu might well be moving on from their elegant lady client base towards more street level wearers. Despite it being aimed at women, I have even seen a couple of men wearing the unisex pieces lately as well, and looking very sharp too. Perhaps amidst the saturation of prints, accessories and details we are seeing everywhere else, the only way to stand out on the streets of Tokyo will be with simplicity.
The presentation itself took place in the grounds of Chichibunomiya rugby stadium on a suitably crisp and clear day with no obvious staging beyond the contrast between nature and the concrete of our surroundings.
With atmosphere established on to the key looks from the show:
This moth-eaten jacket was an early shot across the bow at the show. It definitely surprised a lot of people, but as the show went on its rustic simplicity felt welcoming and warm.
Matohu’s personally created textiles were fantastic as ever, as were their perfectly conceived cuts.
There were also a couple of looks that were obviously more street level, but with no less grace.
The worn fabric finding its best place in this cape.
The show climaxed with some more obvious references to traditional Japanese wear, but balanced with leathers and outers that made them seem accesible and modern.
Frankly if you don’t appreciate this collection then I can do little more than feel sorry for you. If this is your first experience of the brand and you have a free hour at your disposal then you can work through their back-catalogue here.