Naohiro Fujisaki’s spring 2024 Meanswhile show was a long time coming. After his first runway for fall 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic, the 37-year-old spent the past few years honing the brand and building up to this moment.
Fortunately for Fujisaki, there were no false starts tonight. The show took place on the wide rooftop of Tokyo’s Palace Side Building, the setting sun and the distant silhouette of Mt. Fuji on one side and a forest of glittering skyscrapers on the other. That everything unfolded precisely as the sky began to darken seemed by design, because the collection was about traversing space: moving between the built-up city and the natural world; the heat of summer and chill of winter; light and darkness.
Fujisaki, like quite a few designers in Tokyo, operates in the realm of restrained technical wear. Nylon wrap-skirts, tarp-covered sleeves and gaiters, and satisfyingly bulky bombers with countless pockets sat on the more industrial-feeling side of the collection— complemented by architectural prints that he’d collaborated on with the Finnish photographer Ola Kolehmainen. These were balanced with gentler details. Particularly genius were the fisherman vests, crafted not from nylon or polyester but soft knitted cotton—they felt grandad-ish in the best way.
Then came squishy-looking blanket coats good enough for sleeping in, as well as a stylish take on kuchofuku—jackets with electric fans incorporated in the side that you’ll often see workmen in Japan wearing to keep cool in summer. There were also reflective silver patches that appeared like blobs of mercury stuck on the backs of jackets (cool-looking, but also handy for being seen in the dark), and a Pleats Please-esque hoodie set-up that wouldn’t look amiss on the sofa or the subway.
“Clothes can be broadly divided into two sides: costume-like aspects and tools for daily necessities,” explained Fujisaki after the show. “I entered the fashion industry because I originally liked the costume-y side of it, but I don’t think the industry is in a good place right now, so I’m trying to update it in my own way by presenting clothes as tools rather than just costumes.”
With so much talk in fashion about post-streetwear this, WFH wardrobe-that, the straightforward idea of useful clothes that look good and can adapt to a multitude of scenarios is a balm. That’s perhaps why Fujisaki’s show tonight had a hint of the futuristic about it. Not in the depressing, apocalyptic way that we’ve all become used to when thinking about the future, but in the way it presented something that looks forward with positivity and purpose. There is hope yet.