A collection that seamlessly intertwines the esteemed traditions and innovations of the Eastern and Western worlds, Kenzo and Levi’s® unveil a unique assembly of apparel for Fall/Winter 2023, a first under the artistic direction of Nigo at Kenzo.
It merges the cultural heritages of the Parisian-Japanese House and the American label. Designed by Nigo and Levi’s®, this wardrobe for men and women illustrates the ongoing correlation between traditional Japanese tailoring and classic American workwear, at the heart of the artistic practice of Kenzo’s creative director.
Consisting of about twenty clothing items and accessories made primarily from premium Kaihara Japanese denim, the capsule collection embodies the “real-to-wear” functionality, a key concept of Nigo’s approach for Kenzo. An enthusiastic collector of vintage clothing, the designer has a significant number of American denim pieces in his archives in Japan, including original workwear from Levi Strauss & Co., created for cowboys and miners. The designer’s passion for denim, as well as the material’s place in history, is reflected in the legacy of Kenzo Takada. The ease and democratic spirit of denim led to the launch of the Kenzo Jeans line in 1986. Together, these elements create a wardrobe based on a dialogue between America, Japanese construction, and the genetic makeup of Kenzo Takada – a dialogue that naturally inspired the connection between Kenzo and Levi’s®.
The “East-meets-West” philosophy at the core of Kenzo x Levi’s® is highlighted by a campaign shot in Kyoto. Nigo invited Japanese filmmaker Umi Ishihara – whose work merges documentary and fictional styles – to capture the collection through moving cinematic images filmed in two traditional mountain sansou villas in Kyoto. These same settings also host a series of still images taken by photographer Ryu Ika, originally from Inner Mongolia, who illuminates the collection through his unique lens focused on everyday life. The campaign features a cast: Abas Abdirazaq, Hayato, Masato Eun, Peipei, Sen Ping, and Shun.
The Kenzo x Levi’s® capsule pieces are co-signed by a pattern combining the classic iconography of Levi Strauss & Co.’s “two horse pull” with the Kenzo logo. The Levi’s® metal buttons are embossed with Kenzo’s iconic Boke flower, while the rear pockets are accentuated with Levi’s®’s signature arched stitching. Embroidered Kenzo logos appear above the pockets, nodding to the name badges embroidered on factory workers’ uniforms in the early 20th century. The clothing in the collection is adorned with two patterns: a Sashiko print imitating the traditional Japanese stitching technique, and a floral print from the Kenzo Jeans archive.
Among the ungendered outerwear, there is a denim jacket with a removable faux fur collar and a fringed denim jacket with western panels, both inspired by archive pieces from the 1980s Kenzo Jungle line. The Levi’s® Type II Trucker Jacket from 1967 is revisited in red satin with Boke flower embroidery and western details, as well as in a hand-faded vintage denim version made in Japan. The denim blazers, inspired by Bing Crosby’s iconic tuxedo, meld tailoring with jean jackets, and feature a Men’s jacket adorned with a trompe-l’œil Sashiko print and a Women’s jacket in a modernized Kenzo Jeans floral print.
A unisex denim shirt showcases sawtooth pocket details and chain stitch, while a t-shirt in Kenzo red or off-white echoes a classic Levi’s® shirt pocket. The sleeveless buttoned denim dresses, inspired by Kenzo Takada pieces from the 1980s, can be worn open as layering elements and are available in dark blue or Kenzo Jeans floral print. Overalls inspired by the original Levi’s® model appear in dark indigo and in a trompe-l’œil Sashiko print version. The unisex Levi’s® 501® jeans include a hand-faded denim version made in Japan and another in indigo denim with leather and denim straps, inspired by the original 1933 Levi’s® 501® jeans.
A denim tie complements the capsule’s workwear-tailoring dialogue, while a denim card holder highlights the Kenzo chain stitch. Paying tribute to the line’s East-West sensibility, the design of a Kenzo red western bandana incorporates Levi’s® and Maison’s iconography.
The Kenzo x Levi’s® Fall/Winter 2023 capsule collection for Men and Women was available in Kenzo stores, on kenzo.com, in selected Levi’s® stores, on levi.com, and on the Levi’s® app.