Junya Watanabe On My...
The Japanese designer brings back his love of prose for Supreme.
In what’s arguably one of the more exciting collaborations as of late, Japanese designer Junya Watanabe has teamed up with Supreme for a collection that serves as a remix of some of his greatest hits. For the uninitiated, Watanabe’s take on Americana is filtered through intricate takes on workwear and ivy league gear, usually with plenty of patchwork reinterpretations of military garments and hard-wearing staples.
As a protege of COMME des GARÇONS designer Rei Kawakubo, Watanabe’s label is still run by CDG’s parent company. In the past, he’s also no stranger to covetable collaborations in his own right. Heads will remember the paint-splattered Carhartt jacket from his Spring/Summer 2018 collection, a work so artful it looks like something done with Jackson Pollock. He’s also remastered a few pieces from GORPy brands like Karrimoor and The North Face, like taking the latter’s backpacks and other luggage and transforming them into insane parkas.
His Supreme collaboration is a bit of a tour for the kids who are totally new to the established-yet-relatively-niche designer. After all, the exorbitant prices of many of his pieces mean that only a select few can cop at retail, unless you happen to score a sick deal on the aftermarket. It’s also worth mentioning the new collaborative pieces with sub rosa creative Bugsex, but plenty of his most sought after garments retain their value, and continue to demand a high price.
The High Fashion Talk community recently pulled together a post of Junya Watanabe’s self-referential pieces with Supreme. Ranging from the mohair camouflage cardigan inspired by his Fall/Winter 2006 women’s collection, the patchwork olive drab gear from his men’s collection of that same year, and an archival floral motif from his Spring/Summer 2002 menswear line, one piece that didn’t make the initial HFT were the “poem” pieces from that same debut menswear collection.
“For his Spring/Summer 2002 collection, Watanabe collaborated with “evi's to create his poem collection which he now reiterates every 5 years or so,” says archival community Silver League.” Offerings included odd poems and phrases such as ‘Curry Rice’ and ‘Peanut Butter’ printed onto garments from Watanabe’s label.”
Indeed, while the “Poem Jeans” are among the most covetable pieces from that initial release, Watanabe’s seemingly nonsensical copy, which reads: “YOUR SMILE / MAKES ME HAPPY / YOUR VOICE IS / A BIRD / WHISPERING / YOUR HANDS / KEEP ME WARM / YOUR PERFUME / CHARMS ME / YOUR LIPS ARE / SOFT YOU / FULFILL ME,” calls to mind idiosyncratic English garments seen all over Asia, but also rings with a slight romantic profundity.
In the Supreme collaboration, a new poem is emblazoned across several jackets, shirts, sweats, and bottoms. The poem reads: “Wxhen Acquired It Is More Important Than Life Itself, It Is The Immortal State Of Love, The Supreme Virtue Of All Virtues.” It trades the straight typeface of Watanabe’s previous pieces for Supreme’s signature italicized Futura variant, but as Input magazine notes, this particular message is a double entendre that’s “indicative of both Junya and Supreme’s most ardent fans.” How poetic.