Saturday, September 23, 2023
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Khoki Tokyo Spring 2024

Back to childhood, back to reality. Whereas last season Khoki’s mysterious team of unnamed designers riffed on fairytale magic and fantasy, this time it was a return to the real world. “For the first time since we started Khoki [in 2019], we didn’t have a theme,” explained the brand’s spokesperson at their showroom on a humid summer afternoon in Tokyo. “Practically speaking, there just wasn’t enough time between the last show and this collection, and we felt that if we tried to work to another big theme we’d end up with something flimsy.”

It seemed to be the smart choice. Though fantasy makes for reliable fun, the Khoki team took the past four months to hunker down and focus more clearly on their aesthetic identity, which takes its cues from craftsmanship and childlike wonder. The patchwork and embroidery that appear in new guises each season took the form of quilting on sporty track jackets and upcycled pairs of Levi’s 501s, as well as streams of flowers cross-stitched across bright nylon windbreakers.

Matisse-inspired cutouts appeared on fluffy cardigans or were printed camo-like onto shirts (as well as over the lookbook photos). Those crudely cut stars were another nod to the art-class vibe the brand does convincingly well. Though playful naïveté is a big part of Khoki’s brand DNA, there were some seriously accomplished garments here that showed off the team’s design chops. The curved cutout layers of the tailoring in looks 15 and 18, though tough to make out in the pictures, feature masterful pattern work.

Khoki’s designers still don’t publicize their names—the idea is to let themselves be judged solely on the merit of their clothes—but it’s worth knowing that each of them spent years honing their talents under various master designers in Japan. Eagle-eyed fans may be able to pick out a few quirks they have absorbed from working under Tokyo’s greatest. This is no bad thing: Khoki’s identity feels fresh and clear-cut despite the hodgepodge of influences, and is a real testament to the Japanese fashion industry’s walk-before-you-fly approach. You’ll find no poor imitators here, but rather the next generation getting their wings.



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