I'll give this a go. I won't be writing about a particular piece I am content with, but about an aesthetic. Apologies in advance for the long read.
Recently a lot of people have commented that I look very comfortable in my current aesthetic and I'm very appreciative and couldn't agree more with these sentiments. I can easily say that as of now, I feel more comfortable in my clothes and more content with my wardrobe than I have ever been in my life. I have owned many interesting things in the past, but never in a particularly unified or cohesive way. What follows is a sort of rambling retrospective of what led me to this point.
As I might have mentioned elsewhere, I grew up in Taiwan, which essentially lies at the boundary between East and Southeast Asia. Temperatures essentially fell between 15 and 35 degrees celsius year-round, meaning t-shirt and shorts weather for the better part of the year. In an increasingly style-conscious society with an increasingly wealthy middle class, this translated, in terms of fashion, to an explosion of a sort of streetwear with a heavy emphasis on graphic tees, as layering up was very often out of the question. (Additionally, for some reason or another, Taiwan has had an ongoing love affair for American hip-hop culture for the longest time... black people are essentially viewed as magical space unicorns here or something.) Due to Taiwan's proximity and connections with Japan, Japanese streetwear brands enjoyed a much greater degree of brand awareness here, but again, due to the inescapable heat, the buys many stores had for these brands were limited to racks and racks of graphic tees. At no point did I consider brands like Comme des Garcons, Undercover, and Number (N)ine "fashion brands" -- in my head, they were conflated with brands like Bape, Supreme, and Undercover as simply streetwear companies that made a lot of dope t-shirts.
I remember one day, when I was browsing in one of many t-shirt stores, I noticed a particular ring for sale that instantly caught my eye:
(For those curious, this is a from a capsule collection done in collaboration with Magical Design in 2005)
Imagine my surprise when I saw that it was produced by number (n)ine. To be honest, I didn't (and still don't) particularly care for the brand's t-shirts: they were simply blank white tees with rather uninspired slogans and assertions printed on them in ugly typefaces. "HIP HOP SUCKS," or "NO MORE GEORGE BUSH" or something similar. Why would a random t-shirt company produce such an intricately designed ring? So I asked the owner, who was pleasantly surprised that I had noticed the ring on display. He brought out several Japanese magazines for me to flip through, and showed me a bit about number (n)ine. And I was captivated by what I saw, but as a kid barely in high school, never started to consider the possibility of actually achieving this sort of style. Back to the racks of t-shirts. But thinking back, I would say that that was the critical moment that fomented my current interests in fashion.
Over the next few years, various triggers would pull my style in different directions. I started reading Hypebeast when the primary focus was still on Japanese streetwear. With my first decently-paid lab assistant position in college, I could finally start acquiring some of the many things I had drooled over in the past. (My first large purchase, the result of almost two months' savings, were a pair of Visvims
, which are still going strong almost half a decade later, and could be a subject of its own contentedness post). When I started interviewing for internships, I discovered the Menswear section of Styleforum, and through that, SW&D and Superfuture. Subjected to this massive overload of information in such a short period of time, my personal sense of style bounced around like a ping-pong ball off of all these different aesthetics I was exposed to. (I would post pictures, but a few weeks ago, in an attempt to clean up my Styleforum user gallery, I deleted a lot of my pictures... I didn't know this would also delete them from the posts they were made in
) Thinking back, some of my stuff was good. Some was great, even. Some was terrible, also, but most was decidedly mediocre. Most importantly, I had the niggling feeling that my clothes were wearing me, that it was all just some game I was playing with strange men on the internet that was putting an ever-increasing strain on my finances. It seemed directionless.
However, all this came to change when I rediscovered Takahiro Miyashita's work. This is the point where I feel the clichés will start coming hard and heavy, mixed in with my interpretations of brands that people might disagree with, but whatever. To me, his work represents one of the most unified, cohesive visions in fashion I had ever seen, something which is more apparent in the Soloist but also present in number (n)ine. The music (grunge rock for number (n)ine, folk rock for the Soloist). The personality. The romanticism of the raggedness of the clothes that still possessed hints of past faded glory (primarily SS09, FW09). The oppressive, suffocating themes of isolation and angst of number (n)ine, coupled with the quiet hopefulness and ultimately optimistic view of the soloist (with slogans and musical references like "Keep on Walking" or "I Shall Be Released" finding their way into the clothes in some shape or form) . I absorbed everything I could about the man and his work, and it seemed with every interview, editorial, and show, the brand(s) seemed to click even more with me.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Almost exactly a year ago, I got this cardigan in the mail from SS08 - 'Birds,' the collection referencing Neil Young who just happens to be one of my favorite musicians. While at the time I wasn't entirely sure if it was right for me (it's so long, the pleated back is so feminine, etc. etc.), these insecurities were soon dismissed when I actually started wearing it after just staring at it for about a week, when it instantly became probably my favorite article of clothing. This was one of the many eureka moments I described above, and essentially was the starting point that set the directionality of my aesthetic from this point forwards.
Someone made an offhand remark to me yesterday that 'I had basically been posting the same fit for a year,' in a seemingly derogatory manner. This actually really tickled my brain in how unintentionally accurate it was, because I would say that this one simple cardigan essentially informed how I made my purchases and put together outfits for the next year. Interestingly enough, it has been almost exactly one year since I received it from SuToCorp on December 16th, 2012. (The picture above is actually from February; previous pictures have been lost in the mists of time.) To me, this is confirmation for myself that the connection I felt with the brand(s) and aesthetic presented by Miyashita back then was right, and that the contentedness I feel right now won't be of the transitory sort that afflicts so many of us.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In a sort of commemoration, today I wore the same cardigan, the same shirt, the same pants, and the same boots as the first WAYWT I posted with the cardigan almost a year ago (the jacket, an allsaints bomber, is unfortunately in the wash right now, but still worn very frequently). Other than developing a preference for slightly more structured garments than the almost robelike cardigan, I'm still as happy with everything I'm wearing as I was a year ago. When considering aesthetics rather than individual pieces, this sort of contentment is once that I am very happy with, and one that I hope everyone else here can achieve.
Thanks for reading~Edited by VitaTimH - 12/11/13 at 4:17pm