The best thing about going to a Phenomenon show is the realisation that despite the brightly coloured, avant-garde, showpiece work feeling like it is surely only suitable for the catwalk, it will show up verbatim in retail and from there very frequently on real people during your travels in Tokyo. Last season I was taken with a bright pink jacket with a huge pink cross protruding a good inch and a half from the back of the thing, nice – I thought, but a shame that the buyers won’t go for it. Well not only have I seen loads of them in Candy and The Contemporary Fix, but also at least three civilians wearing that exact jacket on the street – and it has only been out for a couple of weeks.
What I am getting at is the simple truth that not does Phenomenon get away with the improbable at the shows, but designer Takeshi Osumi has the rare power to convince fashionable men to go well out of their comfort zone and into territory few would tred outside of a very limited fashion context.
This season it was clear that along with most of the menswear at Tokyo fashion week, there was a degree of restraint in the air and even the mighty Phenomenon was tempering his collection to the times. Don’t get me wrong there are still male skirts, beaded shorts and clutch bags that are pushing the male fashion envelope, but overall the tone was preppy, childish and just a little bit “safer” for my money.
Although all things are indeed – relative. Safe here does not mean conservative, this is still the uniform of the street avant-garde and I am all for this unique pleated skirt, one short-legged trouser combination.
There were a few points when we had glimpses of the strong proportions that has typified Phenomenon in the past, such as this voluminously lapeled tailored suit jacket, but by and large through the sleeker proportions, the overall look felt just a shade less bold.
There were ample chances for Phenomenon to show off their absolute technical proficiency with complex lacing, traditional Japanese dying and the amazing aggregation of zips on the arms above.
The huge amount of colours in the show echoed the “Childish” theme, although there was a satisfying amount of black in there for those not ready for a wardrobe packed with minty greens and sharp reds.
Comfortable in its masculinity, Phenomenon is one of the very few brands who could have possibly brought a floral belt into a collection and expect to get away with it.
Although it must be said that apart from the handful of skirts in the mix, that this collection feels significantly more conventionally masculine than the current season.
The presentation ended, with the real show-piece work that Phenomenon always handles with a credibility that few can lay claim to. But the important thing to remember is that like the pink jacket from the current season – these might well be the biggest sellers.
Those beaded arms are literally amazing and were so wonderfully unexpected on the day.
Phenomenon showed as part of the Versus Tokyo event that thematically at least was supposed to be a competition between the big names in Japanese menswear, well I have to say, that Phenomenon might well have won. Certainly, when it comes to progressing menswear they can always be relied on to give us a bit of a shove in a new direction, but thanks to their streetwear roots they never push the audience harder then they are going to be comfortable with.