It took some real bravery to enter the Haversack booth. It was swamped with buyers for most of Pitti, and even when it wasn’t, gathering the courage to approach Ian - the brand representative who exemplified both the heroism of an aging, short-haired Sidney Carton and the vague menace of an underground boxing promoter - and tell him I didn’t know anything about his company required a bit of doing. I had to make several nonchalant circles around the booth and mumble a few recitations of the Litany against Fear before I was sufficiently galvanized.
“I must not fear,” I tell myself, walking up to him and smiling. Camera? Check. Business card? Check. Sweaty handshake? Likely.
The clothes hit kind of a sweet spot between Paul Harnden, Yohji Yamamoto, and Oliver Spencer. They’re pleasantly anachronistic in a manner that suggests early-1900’s poverty and, simultaneously, luxury that Fitzgerald’s ill-fated protagonists might dream of while on safari. It’s all wrangled together under an umbrella of cuts that reference militaria and the romance of your favorite vanished explorers. It’s not just the cut that attracts the eye: the patterns and colors are at once loud, subtle, and very, very beautiful. It’s all finished to an exacting standard, and construction is top-notch.
Designer Koji Norihide appears to have something of an obsession with outerwear, since most of what he’s brought to Pitti comes in the form of exquisitely-tailored jackets – which Ian walks me through as Mr. Norihide busies himself with coffee and a newspaper. This works for me, because I’m happy to indulge my own obsession with outerwear and let him ignore us. He looks, if possible, even cooler than Ian does. The standouts, in my mind, are a grey peak-lapel jacket with an exploded windowpane pattern, a blazer with embroidered paisley details, and a high-collared deck jacket that fulfills just about every down-on-his-luck-spacefaring-mariner fantasy I’ve ever had.
It’s fitting that Ian’s grizzled voice has a gravitas that would make Russel Crowe blush, and when I asked him to tell me a little bit about Haversack, he delivers his response in a rousing, two-minute monologue that manages to be friendly, informative and slightly belligerent:
“They make Modern-day garments in a very old, classic style. What they’re making is as-is 1940’s, 1950’s. Right? But they vamp it up with various fabrics. 90% Japanese made. We only have two items which are made in Germany. We have two collections, two stylings; these are the blousons, the easy pants, the knitwear, etcetera etcetera. And the other one over there, it’s more of a formal, semi-formal type. This time around – ‘Ello,” he pauses, staring down a buyer. “This time around, the knitwear – we don’t have much. It’s more of the jackets and coats in both collections. Style-wise, the main thing is ‘light, durable, and easy to wear.’ Price? Not cheap. Because they’re all made in Japan, fabrics are all specially-made – so you won’t see the same fabrics in any other collection. Am I speaking too much?
Fear is the mind killer, I think. “No, no. I Love it.”
“That’s about it. It’s a very difficult to summarize this collection, it really is. They’re all handmade. No machine use at all.”
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. “None at all?”
“None at all. None at all. What else you got?”
“Nothing, that was perfect.”