ENGINEERED GARMENTS and NEEDLES.
Although the two brands released their collections in two different places, Tokyo and New York, the sources of creation were coincidentally in concord. Black is the keyword of their current collections.

Interview & Text : Hideki Goya

ENGINEERED GARMENTS has titled its 2015 Fall/Winter collection as “My Own Private 80s.” The designer, Daiki Suzuki, told that fashion in the period has had a real impact on his creation as various designers brought out their best in the New York fashion scene while designers’ brands were in their heyday in Japan. Although his previous collection titled “TRAVEL & SAFARI” was also inspired by the 1980s, the latest style created by Suzuki looks totally different as he has dug into his personal memories. Along with navy and gray colors that represent the brand’s atmosphere, Suzuki chose black as one of the main hues for the collection.

“After hearing our staff’s casual conversation, I got an idea to create a collection in dark shades. So, to start with, I designed all the items in black. Although I had made various black products before then, it was the first time for me to design it so consciously.”

As well as newly designed black garments, he dyed some regular items in black color to make the collection look cool and sophisticated. When being asked that what black meant to him, Suzuki said; “For me, it’s the color that represents the 1980s.”

“At that time, black clothes were everywhere not only in Japan but also in many other countries. I was always in black, too. I then saw styles mixing black and navy colors in the era for the first time. Before that, mixing the two colors was a thing not to do in the traditional fashion world though matching navy and gray was one of the standards. COMME des GARÇONS was the brand that disproved the myth. I was so shocked by seeing it and became crazy about mixing black, navy and gray for a while after that.”

You can see his idea of coloration from styles shown in the brand’s latest look book. Although inky black is definitely the main hue for the collection, there are few looks all in black. This is, however, the 1980s for Suzuki.

“The style became more tasteful as I added navy and gray colors rather than making it only in black. It looks unique and I like it. However I paid much attention to the shade and texture of each product to be matched with other black items. For this collection, we have adopted various types of fabrics such as loosely-woven woolens, corduroy, leather and fur along with our standard materials such as wool serge and ripstop fabrics. I would be very happy if you could enjoy and update your all-in-black looks more by playing with items in a variety of textures.”

Visual images shown here are ENGINEERED GARMENTS’ 2015 Fall/Winter collection looks. To faithfully reproduce the true texture and precise details of quality materials, all the images were photographed in monochrome. It shows that you can create such interesting and exceptional looks by, for example, mixing items in various lengths even though all the garments are in the same color. For colored version of those looks, visit NEPENTHES official website.

“Sometimes it comes from texture and other times from one particular item or its detail. My design inspiration always changes depending on the season or my mood. The latest collection was started from a color, black, or its combination with other shades.”

As Keizo Shimizu talked to us, there are a bunch of black items in NEEDLES 2015 fall/winter collection including a double-breasted Chesterfield coat, a leopard coach jacket, a matching paisley cord jacket and pants, sneakers as well as cordovan engineer boots. The brand’s signature track top and pants suit can also be available in black. Because of the distinctive design, however, you may find this season’s new products so bold even in a plain color.

“Although Black is one of the principal colors for NEEDLES in a long time, I haven’t used it so often for the last few seasons. I don’t want to call the latest collection as a reaction to it, but I think my new items emphasize basic aspect of myself;” said the designer.

According to him, black is his personal color along with purple as he loved to wear pocketed T-shirts and painters pants in the hue. So we asked what black means to him.

“It’s the strongest color, much more vivid than red or yellow. So, it’s not ‘safe’ at all to wear it as the color determines the personal character of the wearer. Some time ago, it was very hard to find black items from American casual clothing or military dresses. Therefore, when I bought clothes for RED WOOD (a conceptual shop opened by Shimizu in 2000), I frequented trade shows for outdoor gears and asked the manufacturers to make their products in black exclusively for us. That’s why I feel a kind of novelty from black.”

On the other hand, REBUILD BY NEEDLES, another line of the brand designed under a completely different concept from the original NEEDLES collection, has broadened the creative ideas and variation of products while Shimuzu’s innovative design and quality materials make the items even more unique.

“For this season’s collection, I re-interpreted a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, Brown Duck items from Carhart along with the product made from military shirts or printed flannel shirts. I also match-upped those items intentionally as a new attempt. Now I’m trying to transform some readymade products such as Dickies pants and GILDAN’s T-shirts into new clothes. I’ve enjoyed taking a process of trial and error to generate new possibilities for classic items.”

For 2015 fall/winter collection visual, NEEDLES featured a bearded man like a faithful police officer played by Al Pacino in Serpico. He is armed with a pair of engineer boots, putting a wooly coat or cardigan on an undershirt matched with denim jeans as it is an updated version of “American Casual” style embedded in the designer’s memory. Along with items in a combination with black and dark navy colors created by indigo dyeing, the latest NEEDLES collection is rich in solid black clothes.