Junya Watanabe Spring 2022 Menswear Collection

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Clicking through Junya Watanabe’s new spring collection, a theme emerges. Nearly every model wears a straw hat, sunglasses, and a pair of sandals. Without knowing much about his starting point, it looks as though he’s got a serious case of lockdown fever. Can you blame him? Spring is Watanabe’s third season showing his men’s collection on his home turf of Tokyo rather than in Paris, as he’s done for many years. Even the most peripatetic among us have been stopped in our tracks by the pandemic.

Working with a long list of collaborators, from The North Face and ArkAir (for jackets) to Levi’s and Dickies (playing against type with sarouel pants) Watanabe put together a lineup that telegraphs a freelance kind of cool. Is the Junya guy working? Is he playing? A little bit of both? With fashion having more or less decided that it’s done with the suit, what men should wear below the belt was a big topic at the spring shows. That Watanabe’s culottes, kilts, and sarouel pants feel more grounded than some others’ experiments is not unexpected; with his men’s collections he doesn’t buy into a runway/real life divide.

The souvenir t-shirts are the results of yet more collaborations with artists; he gave them a remit to “reflect on what one may encounter on travels East.” As it turns out, Watanabe took his inspiration for spring from a series of Jamie Hawkesworth photographs of Bhutan. The press notes quote the lensman: “It’s such an incredible feeling turning up to a place with no ideas or expectations, and just walking and exploring and taking photographs—it’s incredible what you find.” Whether Watanabe’s many followers are moving about more freely in 2022, or merely traveling in their minds, they’ll get a lot of mileage out of these easy-wearing, but still collectible clothes.

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