New Icons

This Is Your Final Look

Junya Watanabe Designs the Jacket You Will Wear Untill the End.

  • Text: Kevin Pires
    ImagesKenta Cobayashi

New Icons celebrates the stories behind particularly notable pieces from this season.

Arthur Bispo do Rosário, a Brazilian outsider artist, spent more than half a century creating work from behind the walls of an asylum. He was sent there after appearing before a group of monks at a monastery in 1938 and declaring that he was Jesus Christ sent to judge the living and the dead. His masterwork, a cloak he’d wear on Judgement Day, was made of discarded materials he had collected over a lifetime. It was an ecology of end times. It was clothing for a day infinitely imagined but impossible to fully conceive

As we approach our own version of the end, temperatures tipping towards torturous, what will our final outfits look like? Junya Watanabe, protégé of the legendary Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, has like Rosario long tinkered with fashioning the future out of a synthesis of old and new. His groundbreaking Fall 2000 collection, one he would title ‘techno-couture,’ forever defining his work with a rhetorical flourish, recast the forms of the past for the next millennium. He introduced tradition to technology.

Watanabe's version of the future collapses form and function. The shimmering solar panels that line this jacket are a utilitarian element turned aesthetic. Stowed away in your pocket or held in hand, your phone gains energy faster than you can expend it. That circular relationship mirrors the one we have with our new digital confidantes and consiglieres—we stare at screens in lieu of the sun, locked in an ever-refreshing cycle.

This Watanabe collection envisioned an end lived outdoors. It is not a philosophical concept as much as a practicality. It is military wear for a generation that might never see combat. As the world descends into new depths of darkness, you can’t be blamed for turning inward. A faith in humanity, while rarely misplaced, may these days be misguided. And whatever The End ends up being, you want to make sure you’re packing, and wearing, heat.

  • Text: Kevin Pires
    Images: Kenta Cobayashi
    Styling: Tatsuya Shimada