A Runway Wrapped In Pigskin

The Higashi Sumida area of Tokyo has long been known as the center of Japan’s leather making industry, producing more than 70% of the nation’s pigskin leather. For the past six years, trade fair Japan Creation has teamed up the local pigskin manufacturers with new and exciting Japan-based design talent to produce runway shows under the banner “Piggy’s Special.” Past participants in the project have included DressCamp, Theatre Products and Matohu, while this year’s talents feature aptform, designed by Tokyo-based Greek designer Michail Gkinis, as well as Yohikazu Yamagata and Kentaro Tamai’s writtenafterwards.

Gkinis’s menswear show titled “Juxtapositions” expertly demonstrated the versatility of pigskin leather. A dark collection in monochrome, he used cutting techniques to make the leather look like knitwear and fused the leather with wool yarn to make cardigans, sweaters and scarves. The standout feature was the use of crinkle and pleated techniques so that bags and shirts looked as delicate and fine as paper. Gkinis, a former Issey Miyake intern, has a deft touch when it comes to the technical side of fashion and the project highlighted his protean ability to make one material closely resemble another. No one would have guessed it was his first time working with pigskin, but Gkinis claims he would seize the opportunity to use the material again.

The antithesis of aptform’s monochrome outlook, the writtenafterwards collection was light, feminine and playful with a delicate and intuitive use of color and design. Central St. Martins’ graduates Yamagata and Tamai already boast impressive resumes that include work with John Galliano and Margaret Howell, and their conceptual label fuses theater and a strong visual base with fashion. For Japan Creation they created “Shoulder the Earth,” which showcased both menswear and womenswear, and was inspired by a picture of a man with the earth on his shoulders. The pair ran with this theme as they introduced giant globe bags, as well as other accessories and clothing with the earth motif. It was also their first introduction to pigskin and, like Gkinis, they enjoyed the experience and were surprised by the material’s adaptability.

—Paul McInnes

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