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Kozaburo Akasaka, Last Year’s LVMH Special Prize Winner, Is Launching His First-Ever Women’s Jeans


It’s been barely a year since Kozaburo Akasaka won the 2018 LVMH Special Prize for his hand-stitched, culture-blending menswear. A single Kozaburo collection might include references as disparate as the kimonos of his native Japan; changshans from China; Bruce Lee’s on-screen style; Buddhist symbols; and Western shirts and jeans inspired by a Texas road trip. Those things have more in common than you might expect; denim, for example, is central to both American and Japanese style. Many of Akasaka’s jeans come with sashiko stitching, a traditional Japanese reinforcement technique, or he’ll team a denim work jacket with an oni-inspired belt.

Akasaka does all of this through the lens of Mottainai, a Japanese term that relates to a feeling of regret over wastefulness. Sustainability and upcycling are at the center of this boundary-pushing, conceptual label. While the common assumption is that sustainable practices can take something away from an aesthetic, the opposite is true for Akasaka. Look no further than his intricately-woven sakiori jeans for proof of that.

His other best-selling jeans—shin-length, sculptural “3-D” flares—have become a particular signature for Akasaka. He was wearing a dark-rinse pair with heavy boots when I met him in his Bed-Stuy studio; he made a convincing case for guys to abandon their skinnies once and for all. Women are obsessed with flares at the moment, too, and his latest project is particularly good news for them: Akasaka has collaborated with J Brand on a special capsule of jeans—his first-ever for women—launching today.

Photo: Courtesy of J Brand

Each pair is made from deadstock denim and scraps from the Los Angeles brand’s vast archives, some of them dating back to the early 2000s. There’s a version of his curvy flares in multiple shades of denim; paneled jeans with exposed zippers; and graphic, streaky gray jeans dyed with a special pigment in lieu of bleach. For those, he explained that he’d wanted to “show the feeling of the collection in a stroke of Japanese calligraphy,” but wanted to find an alternative to bleach, which is harmful to the environment. His decision to eliminate bleach dovetails with J Brand’s own commitment to more sustainable practices. For Spring 2019, which is in stores now, J Brand developed a “bleached” denim treatment using baby powder, of all things, and by 2020, the company hopes to be fully sustainable. That mostly comes down to reducing its water and chemical usage, but championing artisanal processes like Akasaka’s is an important (and more tangible) step.

“I think a lot of people are surprised by this collaboration, but I really appreciate what J Brand is doing with their development from a sustainable perspective,” Akasaka said. “I’m interested in recycled materials and creating something artisanal, and they’re doing the same thing in a different way.” In his studio, the finished jeans looked of a piece with the silk sukajan jackets and heavier-weight men’s jeans from his own Fall 2019 collection: Several pairs had raw edges and extra-long red threads dangling from the seams—he called it a wabi-sabi touch. Despite the fact that the collaboration’s cropped flares come in J Brand’s signature stretch denim (as opposed to Akasaka’s preferred rigid cotton), the silhouette looked winningly similar. “I’d never worked with stretch denim before, and at first, I really didn’t like it,” he admitted. “But now I do. It accommodates a lot of different shapes and is so easy to wear.”

We have a feeling those will be the first to sell out. Starting today, you can pick up your pair on J Brand’s website, as well as at Barneys, Selfridge’s, and Lane Crawford; prices start at $428.

Photo: Courtesy of J Brand



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Fashion

What to Wear on a First Date


What to wear on a first date? The answer is both tricky and not. It doesn’t matter if you’re 19 or 39, whether you have no idea how to get dressed or a deep sense of personal style: first dates can be nerve-racking to get ready for. Like job interviews, projecting your best, most unflappable self while trying not to sweat to death is like trying to brush your teeth while eating an Oreo: it’s way harder than it should be. Here are some thoughts on how what to wear on a first date for men—and how to make it slightly easier.

Don’t Lose Your Mind

Jamie McCarthy

Getting dressed for a date is like getting dressed on any other day, for any other event; where you’re going and what the weather is like should determine what you wear. Force an outfit that doesn’t take those things into consideration and you’ll feel like a kid on the first day of school. A kid who has to stress about pit stains all night.

Theory Noland slim-fit suede jacket

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Saturdays NYC Canty cord short-sleeve shirt

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Always Wear a VGJ (Very Good Jacket)

Rodin Eckenroth

Your jacket is the first thing your date is going to notice when you walk in the door. We’re not going to say everything rides on the jacket, but a lot of it does. If you’re not a fashion person, a Levi’s trucker jacket or a simple bomber gets the job done. Also seductive: chore coats, leather jackets, wool topcoats, and baseball jackets.

Coach leather varsity jacket

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Resist the Urge to Do Weird Things

Hollywood To You/Star Max

Style in 2019 is all about expressing your True Self, but just like you wouldn’t tell your entire life story on a first date, you may not want your first-date outfit to give away everything. Solid, sophisticated colors, good-quality fabrics, and clothes that fit you well are your friend here. They’ll give you an air of mystery and complement anything your date decides to wear.

Jamieson’s shetland crewneck knit

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Embrace That New-New Feeling

GP Images

Not to stereotype, but men keep clothes forever. This is good when it comes to things that age well, like band T-shirts and leather jackets, less good when it comes to most everything else. We say treat yourself to something new, then wear it at least one time before the date actually goes down to work out any kinks.

Buttero tanino suede Chelsea boots

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Everlane heavyweight relaxed crew

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Check Your Outfit’s Half-Life

Gotham

Between nervous-energy mishaps and hooking up, there’s a possibility you’ll be half-dressed at some point during your first date. Make sure your outfit is up to the task. That means wearing a fresh T-shirt that doesn’t say, for example, Pet Cemetery, and some new underwear. (We have some thoughts on the best ones to buy.)

J.Crew slim-fit garment-dyed T-shirt

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Calvin Klein modern cotton stretch trunks

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Wear Those Boots You Got

Kevin Mazur

Whether you’re into slip-ons or lace-ups, boots are a good move for a first date. For one, they’ll make you stand straighter and appear taller. They’ll also give you some distinct Mick Jagger/Jim Morrison/David Bowie energy without requiring you to wear a silk blouse and skin-tight jeans.

Isabel Marant chelt suede Chelsea boots

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Show a Little Bit of Skin

Desiree Navarro

Roll up your sleeves. Rock bare ankles. Go two buttons deep. If it’s relatively warm outside, go ahead and do all three at once. Showing some skin doesn’t have to be cheesy. Like everything in life and getting dressed, it’s just about not overdoing it. Just be sure to moisturize your visible areas.

Basic Rights soft collar shirt

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G.H. Bass & Co Larson colorblock Weejuns

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Accessorize with Caution

Donato Sardella

Accessories are a great way to give a basic outfit more style and substance. They’re also a great way to look like a walking red flag. Less is more here. Some Tom Ford-level optical glasses or a couple of rings are perfect. When you throw in a wide-brim hat and a cross-body bag you’ve gone too far.

Miansai sterling silver signet ring

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Tom Ford blue block soft square optical glasses

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Groom, Then Groom Some More



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