In addition to checking out the new new gen of Tokyo fashion, it was impossible to forget the new gen – as in the generation post Comme/Yohji/Issey, designers who have more than likely come out of the design studios of the aforementioned big three with a belt of experience to go it alone. Chitose Abe is a stellar example, having worked for eight years with Junya Watanabe at Comme des Garcons and then launching her label Sacai in 1999. Sacai's first flagship store in Aoyama, Tokyo has been a longtime work in progress, with Abe searching for the perfect space to house her quiet but impactful collections. Sacai's clothes uphold the sort of values, which I sometimes wish my entire wardrobe was based upon – useful, decorative without being frivolous and detail-and-texture heavy. I put emphasis on the useful part. These are clothes that have aren't meant to confuzzle you. You're supposed to go to them and pull on with ease and the effect is still nonetheless interesting what with Abe's fine use of knitwear, seamless layering, decorative and functional details that juxtapose the sporty and the ornate.
Aoyama may be stuffed with all the heavyweight labels but the vibe tends to be quite serene. Sacai's store is suitably tucked away and once you escape inside this wonderful space designed by acclaimed architect Sou Fujimoto, you're rewarded with rooms of concrete, glass and glimpses of green, contrasting the natural and the artificial. If it sounds cold, it isn't. The clothes do much to warm the place up along with the garden outside (seeing green seems to be very important to many Japanese designers when it comes to their stores…) and the odd garden knome here and there as well as the random placements of ducks add a weird sense of humour to the store.
Sacai isn't impossible to find in Europe now with Dover Street Market and colette as prime stockists but the store does house the full mainline collections in addition to the Sacai Luck line (comprising the underwear and casual pieces) as well as Sacai menswear line at prices that are still favourable even though the inflated Yen to GBP rate totally killed me this time round.
I spent an age drooling over structured cable knit sweater dresses, beaded hand warmers, frilly lingerie and drawstring tweed skirts before settling on a fairly basic Sacai Luck grey hoodie. Well, basic for me because even this seemingly simple hoodie has a typically Sacai touch with its flared out shape and drawstring detailing. When worn with a pair of fur fur crochet-decorated knitted trackie bottoms also procured in Tokyo, I have a new slubbing around outfit that fully re-affirms my love for grey jersey in 2011…
(Sacai Luck hoodie, fur fur tracksuit bottoms, Slobe Iena knitted hat – all bought from Tokyo, Miu Miu shoes)