In the three years since White Mountaineering last showed in Paris, Yosuke Aizawa’s life has changed radically. During the pandemic, he built himself a house in a mountainous forest outside Nagano, Japan – crafted from raw concrete and polished timber, complete with double-height glass windows and a roaring fire, which he is said to be in the background Shyly showing reporters a series of photos on his iPhone. The designer now shuttles between the wilderness and the metropolis, making the four-hour commute to his Tokyo studio when he feels life needs a rhythm.
Time away from the fashion industry has strengthened Aizawa’s determination to create clothes that address both urban and rural needs. It also gave him the opportunity to closely study the images of his friend, Japanese climber, writer and photographer Naoki Ishikawa. 2012, Ishikawa successfully summited Manaslu, Nepal, the eighth highest peak in the world. Ten years later, he made his second summit, documenting his journey in a series of evocative photographs. Aizawa was so fascinated by the photographs that he decided to publish them as a book, and distributed copies of the book at his exhibition at the Faculté de Pharmacie. These images also form the basis of his fall inspirations.
Rejuvenated after a successful collaboration with Uniqlo in November and a second collaboration with Italian sportswear brand Colmar, which saw Aizawa serve as creative consultant for the brand’s high-end Revolution collection, White Mountaineering rides a wave of wider recognition. It’s no longer a niche label for gorpcore enthusiasts and Japan lovers, and Aizawa is clearly feeling confident in the background. “My two different lifestyles in the mountains and in the city inspired this collection. We’ve been using a lot of high-tech, multi-functional fabrics and low-tech fabrics,” he points to a loose fit with a Gore-Tex lining. said the charcoal gray wool padded vest. Another favorite outfit includes charcoal gray flannel trousers paired with a blanket wool skirt, camouflage cardigan and duffel coat.
Evidence throughout is Aizawa’s savvy collaborative thinking – Nepali-inspired knit two-piece – pieces with Vans; earth tones of Colmar puffer and Gramicci cargo pants with Merrell mountaineering Boots or Danner suede lace-up walking boots—it makes the whole look very durable. You could see any of these pieces becoming wardrobe staples for cold winter weekends or casual Fridays. What’s more, those viewers who flip through Ishikawa’s photo album and want to climb the mountain must know where to go to reach the top.