It might not come as a surprise that Nigo, the creative director of Kenzo, is a fan of the American workwear aesthetic. One just needs to look at his collections and spot staples of the style – such as the dungarees, the workwear jacket and the newsboy – seeping into his work. What’s less known, however, is the fact that the designer owns a considerable repository of American denim workwear pieces by Levi Strauss & Co. that were originally created for cowboys and miners.
So for his first-ever collaboration at Kenzo, the designer taps into this fascination with Levi’s. The result is a co-ed collection that weaves historical Japanese tailoring with the rugged charm of vintage Americana. This collection, which is out in stores and online, encapsulates around 20 designs, predominantly fashioned from Kaihara premium Japanese denim.
Pieces in this collection display a fusion of the classic Levi Strauss & Co. “two horse pull” emblem with the Kenzo logo. The metal Levi’s shanks don the emblematic Boke flower, a signature of Kenzo, and the back pockets feature the unmistakable Levi’s arcuate stitching. For a vintage touch, embroidered Kenzo logos grace the pockets, reminiscent of the ‘name badges’ sewn onto factory workers’ uniforms in the early 20th century.
The designs in the Kenzo x Levi’s collection are primarily crafted in Kaihara premium Japanese denim, which is known for fusing traditional and modern techniques.
The collection boasts two striking motifs: a Sashiko print, mirroring the age-old Japanese stitching technique, and a revived archive floral print from the Kenzo Jeans line. The inclusive range of outerwear is diverse, featuring a denim jacket with a removable faux fur collar and a denim fringe jacket adorned with Western yokes. These designs draw inspiration from the archival pieces of the 1980s Kenzo Jungle line. The Levi’s Type II Trucker Jacket, originally from 1967, is resurrected in a contemporary rendition. It now appears in red satin, embellished with Boke flower embroidery and Western elements. Another variation of this classic jacket is a vintage-washed denim version, skillfully distressed by hand in Japan.
The lineup extends to tops, dresses, and jeans. A denim shirt adorned with chain stitch and sawtooth pocket detailing makes a statement, while a red and off-white T-shirt reimagines a classic Levi’s shirt pocket. Sleeveless button-down denim dresses, inspired by Kenzo Takada’s 1980s designs, offer a versatile layering element in dark blue or the Kenzo Jeans floral print.
This jacket features an archival floral print revived from the Kenzo Jeans line that was launched by Kenzo Takada in 1986.
As for the dungarees? These come in two variations. One is a deep indigo rinse, and the other features a trompe l’oeil Sashiko print. The well-loved Levi’s 501 model encompasses a vintage-washed denim version, meticulously distressed by hand in Japan. Additionally, there is a rinse indigo denim iteration with leather and denim suspenders, drawing inspiration from the original 501s which were introduced in 1933.
Ahead, we spotlight some of the designs from the outing.
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