‘The individual with independent values that aren’t defined by status nor caught in the times’ is what Tetsu Nishiyama defines as a ‘Lifist’ – to truly live for your self and seek your own personal definition and appreciation of life. For this season, Nishiyama’s seminal WTaps label has been exploring the concept through its synonymous ‘Lifist’ collection. Drawing focus away from the military and cultural reference points of many of the brand’s pieces, WTaps’ latest season has shifted the lens onto the individual wearing the clothes and the people that make WTaps a part of their own personal ‘lifism’.
Thinking of individuals that one might define as a lifist, it’s hard to ignore a particular man who has spent the past twenty years partaking in any combination of; expanding his creative and entrepreneurial credentials; ferociously devouring popular culture; promoting any one of his business ventures and, of course; completely redefining contemporary menswear as we know it – NIGO.
As far as things go in the fight to live life by your own rules and the spirit of independent enlightenment, you can’t really get much closer than NIGO – a man that left arguably the most seminal streetwear label of all time to launch Human Made, a comparative pet-project that sees the designer digging through his own personal vintage clothing collections to create updated reproductions that he would wear himself (amongst many other endeavours, as is always the case with NIGO).
It makes total sense, then, to see the latest WTaps editorial for Honeyee modeled by none other than NIGO! Entitled ‘Clothes Make The Man‘, the shoot sees the designer modeling select pieces from WTaps’ Lifist collection against a plain backdrop, placing focus firmly on the Lifist in front of the lens.
Familiar pieces from the brand make an appearance, such as their Watch Cap beanie and revised WTaps Design hoodie. The WTaps denim makes a welcome return in a variety of washes as well. I’ve been a fan of their distressed Trash denim for a while and the fades are looking better than ever.
Elsewhere the Starling Duffle Coat makes an appearance in mustard yellow – the raised toggles and contrasting negative space down the lower placket looks great. Paired with the League cap, the referential elements of the piece are drawn out nicely without going over the top.
A highlight of the shoot for me comes in a personal favourite from the preview – the Aran Knit. Granted a close-up shot, it’s possible to see the intricate knit in detail, and the unevenly textured side panels now look even better than the cable knit front.
It wouldn’t be a WTaps collection, however, without the military touches, and those come with the sateen M-4883. There’s really no greater embodiment of the WTaps brand than their BDU pieces, and I struggle to speak beyond the brand’s mantra in this respect – everything is just where it should be to the point that the pockets look like they could have been welded on. Fantastic.
For the winter we can also see the NYCO Down Vest and what looks to me like an interpretation of the N-3B Parka (Please forgive me Nishiyama-san) complete with fur-trimmed hood. Down-filled – obviously – and similarly faithful to the WTaps mantra of design through necessity, their accessible and utilitarian silhouettes are a good example of faithful creation in the Lifist principle – the jacket is what it is, and it will become ‘yours’ through virtue of its considered design when you put it on and start living.
Overall, I’ve been a fan of WTaps ever since I caught their ‘Dazed & Confused’ collection back in 2009. It’s always struck a chord with me, and they’ve never failed to bring a smile to my face by not ever doing more than is necessary – looking back, it was around the time that Ed Hardy was oozing out of the floorboards, and I was probably delighted just to discover something that challenged the ‘MORE IS MORE’ attitude towards menswear that was so overwhelmingly prevalent at the time.
Since then, watching labels like WTaps and people like NIGO, it’s become clear that these guys really operate in their own mode and create purely for their own motivations. The Lifist concept interested me when the collection first released, and seeing NIGO in the clothes just makes everything click. If you’ve got an independent mind with its own tuning and drive to create, you can probably relate to pioneers like Tetsu Nishiyama and NIGO. If you listen to that tuning, however, and follow that drive, you unlock something much more – Lifism.