#04. Layered Easy Jacket
Ever since the visionaries Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, and Issey Miyake entered the international fashion scene, the weaving of fantastic and intricate narratives has been a hallmark of Japanese fashion. These designers do not merely sell clothes; instead, they are granting entry into their aesthetic universe through their creations. Takahiro Miyashita is no exception to the rule: with Number (N)ine, he hawked his vision of an alternate reality America for years, one where everyone was a cowboy, punk, or rocker, and where the entire world existed within the Wild West. With the Soloist, Miyashita has toned down the anger and rebelliousness of Number (N)ine, replacing them with a peaceful (possibly post-apocalyptic) world of lonesome journeymen: never settling, but tranquil in their solitude.
In addition to the incredible construction of the clothes itself, this atmosphere is one of the biggest factors that draws me to Miyashita’s designs. I firmly believe that good fashion, like art, should evoke emotion, wonder, and contemplation. When considering the aesthetic of the Soloist I am frequently reminded of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, a classic manga chronicling the the peaceful twilight days of civilization and mankind. Both explore the beauty of the little things in the face of transience, a concept known as mono no aware.
Today, I’ll be writing about the Layered Easy Jacket, a piece that, to me, perfectly embodies the the ethos of the Soloist.
After the unexpectedly shuttering of Number (N)ine following the magnificent 2009 Autumn/Winter show ‘A Closed Feeling,’ fans around the world waited with bated breath to see what Miyashita would do next. Many were surprised and even angry when Symphony #0001, the first season of his new label, was revealed a year later. Gone was the aggressive tailoring, the romantic glamour, the black. Taking their place were wanderers clad in soft, loosely fitting layers of beige and gray, traversing a fairytale forest landscape.
Featured in the season lookbook, the layered easy jacket is a piece perfectly representative of this new aesthetic direction. Composed of a textured wool outer and lined in soft wool fleece, this jacket would keep any traveler warm on even the coldest of nights. See the collection here.
Like much of the other outerwear from the earlier seasons of the Soloist, the layered easy jacket is a spin on traditional menswear. The jacket features an interesting dropped shoulder construction, such that the arm hole extends from the shoulder to nearly the middle of the waist. Combined with the cropped back and the lack of padding, this results in a boxy, egg-like silhouette.
The layered easy jacket features an intricate patchwork construction, in which fabric panels are individually ripped and stitched onto a base layer constructed of wool fleece. Some of the panels feature a distinctive ‘ruched’ effect, where stitches pulled tight cause the edges of the fabric to gather into bunches. Ultimately, this draws attention to the stellar construction.
The jacket’s interior features a significant amount of overlock stitching, a detail frequently seen on vintage sweatshirts. These stitches hold the panels and pockets in place. The pocket bags are composed of a spongy, off-white perforated cotton, which is incredibly soft to the touch. It does seem more prone to stretching than traditional pocket bag fabric, so I try to avoid placing heavy objects in them.
The back of the jacket uses an exaggerated version of the traditional three-seam taper found in men’s jackets. This detail is actually mostly functionless: while traditional suit jackets uses these seams to achieve a slim, tailored look, the seams here simply mark where the panels are joined to one another. The fabric ruching previously described is also visible here at the lower left.
The front includes five snap buttons and a latch closure. Unfortunately, there is no throat latch unlike other Soloist jackets. As such I rarely button the top button, as the lapels tend to flap around annoyingly with nothing securing them. Also note the boutonniere, a critical feature of dandy style. Miyashita would later dedicate an entire collection to the “American dandy.”
I don’t tend to wear this jacket very much these days, as I generally prefer my outerwear to be longer and more structured. However, this jacket retains a special place in my heart as my very first Soloist purchase, and as a watershed in my own personal style. I wrote previously about designers selling visions; in the past, I approached fashion from a very shallow perspective, viewing items in a vacuum without considering how they fit into the narrative the designer was creating. It was only after I bought this jacket that I began to view designers as storytellers and visionaries instead of as mere producers of clothing, and as such, my appreciation for fashion was immensely expanded by this single purchase.
As always, thanks for reading!
Note: Special thanks to Lorcan7 for correcting me on the name of the jacket. It is the ‘layered easy jacket,’ not the ‘traveling jacket.’