The field of fashion journalism is one littered with terms such as ‘sportswear’ and ‘diffusion’ – terms which are designed to pigeonhole collections before they are shown. Strictly speaking, Y-3 is a collaboration between the iconic Yohji Yamamoto and sport titan Adidas, and the clothes shown are designed with athletes in mind. This was a notion echoed in the graphic monochrome invitations that we received prior to the show, accompanied by a brief explanation that ‘Athletes are modern-day superheroes’. Expanding on this tagline, Yamamoto stated that he had been influenced by the couturiers of the ‘60s and had designed the collection taking into account the ‘active, fighting lifestyle of a superhero’. In summary, the collection was a high-end take on utilitarian clothing, designed to dispel the myth that practical clothing is, by default, unfashionable.
The monochrome set design and energetic soundtrack were the next references to the ‘superhero’ theme that ran throughout the show. T-shirts were printed with graphic comic-strip illustrations, whilst slogans such as ‘To be continued’ and ‘So we meet again!’ injected a spirit of playfulness into the collection which was hinted at in the show’s invitation (emblazoned with ‘Stay here, I will get help!) The designer also turned his eye to the superhero classic – the cape. In a return to his deconstructionist roots, Yamamoto showed a series of tracksuit ponchos which were engineered from Adidas hoodies, re-stitched and flung casually across shoulders of the models that stalked the runway.
Despite a few occasions of more dramatic, unorthodox pieces, the emphasis on functionality never wavered. One particular jacket was designed with a built-in backpack, whereas a track jumpsuit was the perfect example of the collection’s ‘get up and go’ appeal. Waterproof materials provided elements of the show’s outerwear, whereas countless pockets and strategically-placed zips meant that every garment was as practical as possible. The references to a ‘fighting lifestyle’ came when the Adidas three-stripe logo shifted suddenly from puritan white to blood red, conjuring brutal imagery of a hero wounded in battle. These animalistic elements were continued in a series of fake fur garments as well as shaggy tracksuit bottoms which were interrupted by traditional jersey pockets – a contrast between tradition and modernity. This fight between formal and casual was referenced again in the range of footwear on display, which was surprisingly formal for a sportswear collection. Chelsea boots and desert moccasins were teamed with tracksuit bottoms, whereas trainers and high-tops featured tribal motifs and a multitude of fabrics to put them a cut above traditional sport shoes.
Finally, the most important aspect of the collection was that it managed to seamlessly blend the brand identities of both Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas. In a true display of collaboration, knee-length hoodies were emblazoned with the Adidas three-stripe logo, whilst the deconstructed capes were a clever nod towards the brand’s heritage. There were, however, plenty of Yamamoto touches which ranged from the monochrome colour palette (which the occasional pop of graphic colour) to the exaggerated flares of tracksuit bottoms. He is known for his avant-garde leanings and unconventional designs – the fact that Yohji Yamamoto has introduced this into the world of sportswear is an exciting prospect..