Back in spring, OriginalFake announced it would be ceasing productions before the end of 2013. The brand originally launched back in 2007 as the fashion extension of Brian Donnelly aka KAWS, seeking to satisfy a Japanese market hungry for culturally-anchored clothing. As has been demonstrated by labels such as A Bathing Ape & Futura2000, or by the continuing success of legendary 90s brands such as X-Large and Nitraid over in the east, the Japanese consumer appreciates product with a strong, palpable story, and the uniquely gritty history of Kaws’ and his Companion character was rich territory.
Kaws’ story is a different conversation entirely, and the information’s widely available if you don’t know already. OriginalFake as a brand had a somewhat tempestuous history, a significant factor being a disparity of perception between Donnelly’s concept-hungry Eastern fanbase and a Western audience that struggled to see more than a load of X’s and Teeth patterns on clothing. Some phenomenal outerwear pieces in later Fall/Winter collections were (quite rightly) effective at putting criticisms to rest, but it’s also fair to say that there was an overbearing weight of printed graphic t-shirts and simple accessories at Japan prices that alienated Kaws’ less ‘involved’ audience. £70 for another Chum graphic in a different pose from last season was ‘lazy’, whilst elaborate constructed pieces with custom hardware and intricate ornamentation were, of course, ‘overpriced’.
Living in the UK, the opportunity to see OriginalFake product close beyond aforementioned t-shirts was a rarity, but as somebody who has read about Donnelly and spent a lot of time trying to deconstruct his work, I remain a fan of OriginalFake. His technique of opening up NYC bus-shelter billboards and ‘live-flipping’ the advertisements within is the root of his moniker as the ‘Original Fake’ – a man stealing brands’ images and making them his own work seemingly overnight – and I’ve always seen a darkly comedic narrative in his series of vinyl figures and graphics that suggested the exploitation and ‘commercial prostitution’ of his Companion character was no different to that of any other brand out there. As for the exquisite outerwear, this was owed mostly to the input of the same design team behind little-known Japanese label NexusVII.
Building upon the dictionary definition of Nexus as ‘a connection or series of connections linking two or more things’ or ‘a central or focal point’, NexusVII designs clothing for ‘multi-faceted elements’, considering the numerous effects of each contributory factor (be it performance, aesthetic, function, etc.) and uniting their results. In the same way that Visvim incorporates new-world technologies into old-world production processes, NexusVII’s product often takes a variety of fabrics and construction techniques to create stylish and accessible clothing with a broad and universal application. Having released their Fall/Winter 2013 lookbook the other day, it is clear that recent developments elsewhere have not served to inhibit NexusVII’s own explorations.
As with previous seasons from the brand, colour schemes are conservative with subtle flashes throughout. Timeless silhouettes like the MA-1 and rib-knit sweater would be comfortable on any brand’s roster, but the contrasting cuffs and collars in smoky hues bring them straight into the NexusVII realm. In keeping with current trends, elements of classic workwear designs are incorporated into many of the pieces, most notably in the slanted button-fly and side-opening utility pockets on the pants. Elsewhere, similar features like slanted pocket-flaps and ventilation zips add visual flare, emulating the criss-crossing trajectories of the label’s multi-faceted elements.
As with the output from OriginalFake, meticulous attention to detail is present across the board. Leather trims and wool linings ensure durability and high performance in the most challenging conditions, and features like the waist and wrist adjusters on jackets demonstrate the same atypical approach to typical problems, bringing historical, visual and functional references to a distinct and confident point.
Overall the lookbook has a detached and impersonal feel that gives precedence to the outfits and respective pieces. The use of minimalist colour schemes to present streamlined outfits is one that NexusVII is particularly good at, meaning even simple outfits like that of the woollen pieces are brought to life by the subtle cuffs and hems.
Likewise, there’s a strong emphasis on lines and shapes that tie back to the brand’s geometric identity. As crazy as it probably sounds (get ready), there’s a lot of charm in the angular nature of the pieces that always gives the brand a ‘calculated’ feel in my eyes, like it’s all sort of mathematical. Just as how the OriginalFake product seemed to do so much with a few X’s and chomper patterns, NexusVII seems also to play with lines and motifs in a very considered manner, as if every crease runs down a path and every seam has a trajectory (I warned you). The multi-faceted elements are brought to a cohesive reference point, and then allowed to branch and grow again. Then again, it could all just be fantastic, and there’s surely something charming about that in itself.
NexusVII’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection has now released, and will be appearing in stores over the coming weeks. It is notably difficult to get hold of outside of Japan, but Haven in Canada tends to get a few healthy deliveries each season. Otherwise, get in touch with a proxy service such as Stylistic’s Space and start scouring those Japanese webstores. Your geometry teacher will thank you. Safe.