Spring / Summer 2024 Collection
The Engineered Garments Spring Summer 2024 collection is now available at Nepenthes New York, in-store and online at nepenthesny.com.
Daiki Suzuki, the designer for Engineered Garments, builds his Spring Summer 2024 collection around his interpretation of Ivy League style. This style gained popularity in Japan during the second half of the 20th century, meticulously chronicled by fashion editors, designers, and stylists who established a strict set of dressing rules. Daiki taps into his personal history – initially as an adherent to the traditional style and later as a challenger of these established norms – to present a collection that redefines Ivy League dressing.
First popularized in the 1950s among elite institutions of higher learning in the Northeastern United States, known as "The Ivy League," this style blends elements of traditional formal wear with youth culture. The Ivy League look offers a range of everyday outfits incorporating aspects of sport, hunting, and orthodox suiting.
Ivy League style in Japan began in 1949 with fashion designer Kensuke Ishizu, whose company, Ishizu Shoten, manufactured sport coats for Japan's affluent. In 1951, he renamed his company VAN Jacket Inc. Inspired by stories about Princeton from an American G.I., Ishizu sought to create clothing reflecting the idyllic lifestyle of elite American university students.
Ishizu's influence expanded in 1954 when he joined the editorial team of the influential magazine "Otoko no Fukushoku" (Men's Apparel), which debuted in 1955 as a men's offshoot of the women's general-interest magazine Fujin Gahō. The magazine's sixth issue in 1956 featured a special on the "Ivy Look," showcasing men smartly dressed in button-down Oxfords, regimental stripe ties, and loafers. This popularized Ivy League clothing and the VAN Jacket brand throughout Japan. Ishizu and his fellow editors transformed the magazine and his products into a definitive rulebook for Ivy League style, teaching young Japanese men the hows and whys of this fashion.
Daiki's first encounter with Ivy League style occurred during middle school in Aomori, Japan. He was fascinated by the outfits in movies like "North by Northwest" with Cary Grant, "The Great Escape" with Steve McQueen, and "Funny Face" with Fred Astaire. These American films and television presented an enchanting vision of the United States, replete with technology, wealth, and stylish Western clothing. Like many young Japanese men of his generation, Daiki turned to magazines like "Popeye Magazine," with its focus on California style and outdoor fashion, and "Men's Club" to learn modern American dressing.
Daiki’s adolescence and subsequent move to Tokyo in the early 1980s exposed him to new fashion concepts that challenged the prevailing conventions of Ivy League fashion. This included Heavy Duty Ivy, blending traditional staples with outdoor gear, and Preppy style, which forsook the rigid rulebook for more relaxed outfits featuring untucked shirts and Hawaiian print shorts.
Influential were contemporary New York designers featured in "Dressing Right" by Charles Hix, a former GQ columnist. Released in Japan as "Otoko no Kikonashi," the book combined Bruce Weber's striking photos with Hix's styling advice, showcasing innovative ways to layer and dress. It featured looks like track pants with tweed coats or a plaid check shirt-jacket over a Fairisle cardigan on top of a striped dress shirt with a paisley tie. It was a groundbreaking guide for Daiki, showcasing a playfully creative approach that defied established norms.
This collection embodies Daiki's interpretation of Ivy League style, fueled by classic American brands like Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Sperry, and Abercrombie, along with the radical concepts from Hix's book. Traditional items like the 19th Century BD Shirt and the Ivy Blazer pair seamlessly with the military-inspired Airborne Pant and the workwear-inspired Coverall Suit. The collection also offers smaller items like the Hooded Interliner, Shoulder Vest, and Neckerchief for versatile layering. Daiki adds originality with items like the FA Short and Reversible Vest, providing the collection with an experimental yet functional tone.
The fabric selection includes genre staples like 100's 2Ply Broadcloth and Cotton Seersucker, alongside playful Preppy styles like Graffiti Print Twill, Nylon Leopard Print, and exaggerated Square Patchwork Madras. These are juxtaposed with rugged materials like Cotton Ripstop and Indigo 8.5oz Denim.
The Engineered Garments Spring Summer 2024 collection is a deeply personal and affectionate interpretation of Ivy League style, blending tradition and innovation within the Engineered Garments landscape. It showcases Daiki's ability to leverage his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion rules to break and redefine them.