The Rise of Overpriced, Overhyped Streetwear

May 28, 2016

by Gracia Ventus
Wearing: Balenciaga aviator shearling coat; COS blouse; Issey Miyake blouse; Yohji Yamamoto trousers; Adidas tubular sneakers

Wearing: Balenciaga aviator shearling coat; COS blouse; Issey Miyake blouse; Yohji Yamamoto trousers; Adidas tubular sneakers; Alexander Wang bag

If you've been reading this blog for some time, you would be aware of my disdain for Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent, and how he has destroyed a reputable Maison in favour of pandering to commercial success by reproducing derivative stereotypes of youth culture. But there is a new zeitgeist that may have trumped Slimane's laziness. I call it faux luxe-streetwear, i.e., streetwear masquerading as high fashion.

It might have started off with Hood by Air (*shudder*) before it got overshadowed by the rise of Off White. Off White (full name: Off White c/o Virgil Abloh) is the product of Virgil Abloh aka Kanye's creative director aka glorified stylist. Virgil Abloh began his first foray into fashion manufacturing with Pyrex Vision (often known as Pyrex, confusing many homemakers and baking enthusiasts), whose designs could hardly be differentiated from HBA. Their main shtick was to stick on a tired logo done in a tired typeface onto as many typical streetwear clothing as possible. Pyrex's game was so strong it was basically screenprinting logos on deadstock Ralph Lauren shirts, which were then marked up to $500. The entitled attitude demanded by the price tag from these mediocre clothes is absolutely revolting. Despite the lack of design merit, Pyrex sold well because influential hip hop artists endorsed the clothes.

At around the same time, Kanye West decided that he would like to be a fashion god. When Antonio Banderas decided to make clothes, he enrolled himself into a fashion school. 'Ye on the other hand watched a lot of fashion shows and allegedly did some 'internships' with Fendi and quietly collaborated with Giuseppe Zanotti. His first proper foray into fashion was a womenswear collection in 2011 that flickered then died abruptly only to be revived in the form of Yeezy - an Adidas collab extravaganza dressed up as a runway show. One would hardly call leotards, bombers and sweatshirts groundbreaking even if they were presented in over-the-top format. While many media outlets slammed Kanye's fashion attempts, right down to the construction of the clothes, blinded fans were still lapping them up as evidenced by the high price that Yeezy Boosts commands on ebay. Despite the subpar quality of design, especially when compared to other sportswear collaborations from Y3 and Sacai, Kanye insists on being heralded as the next big thing in fashion. And it looks like he has finally made it in the industry because Zara has officially copied Yeezy.

Zara copies Yeezy

Yeeze (left) vs Zara (right)

Then there's Vetements which started off full of promise. Nondescript, logo-less clothes with the off-kilter tailoring style that referenced Margiela's greatest hits. Unfortunately somewhere along the way, money took over their design philosophy. Cheeky slogans and corny graphics became de rigueur. Eventually Vetements shifted from Margiela-ism to clothing for adults who are stuck in yoof culcha. It is no surprise that Vetements is now known for its highly visible design elements that make a lot of noise but lack imagination nor design merits. The people who were carrying Céline's Luggage tote are now wearing Vetements's Polizei raincoat. Sure it might make the wearer feels like he/she is a cool kid who keeps up to date with the upper echelon of the fashion circle. There is nothing inherently wrong with that - humans want validation after all, but it's ironic that they've regressed into a commercial one trick pony doling out statement t-shirts and oversized sleeves season after season. I mourn the energy and talent being wasted on another youth-centric label. Speaking of Vetements, I'd highly recommend listening to Dapper Kid's podcast who has articulated this issue in a far more articulate manner.

The rising prominence of slogans and loud branding is the reason why the 'Live Free Die Strong Comme des Garçons' jacket has become the hottest, most sought after biker these days. Recent theory suggests that wearing logos and recognisable iconography increase one's visibility on image-centric social media, subsequently increasing one's internet clout, which comes with quite a few perks including having one's ego stroked.

Despite all my rants, there are young designers out there who know how to put a creative spin on streetwear, such as Nasir Mazhar and Caitlin Price. Although Nasir's clothes are logo heavy, removing them do not detract from the overall design quality. If you do the same with HBA, Pyrex, or Vetements, the clothes would look no better than a pile of pitiful oversized deadstocks lying around in the XXXL section of TK Maxx. But none of them compares to Kanye who stomps his feet to demand respect simply because he made some clothes - derivative, boring clothes that would hardly stir up any excitement outside the circle of hypebeasts on a hypetrain to suckerville.

Balenciaga aviator shearling

Balenciaga aviator shearling


ROSEN’s DIY Issey Miyake Campaign

May 23, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

The witch chants and the witch dances
He glimpses, circumstances

Fear, yes, longing, awareness
Frozen, unsure what to do

The witch watches and the witch prances
The world is vast
It will all pass

Come home soon for the witch's brew

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Beautiful Ruins

May 9, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

Comme des Garçons in Beijing

Having taken hundreds, or probably thousands, of photographs for this blog, I have come to realise that I'm always drawn to dilapidated environments. Not as a place to live in, but as something to be documented. Well before fashion was ever on my radar, I loved taking photographs of messy alleyways, piles of debris, overloaded electrical poles and old buildings. As a result of my subject preference, and quite possibly my lack of skills, I was given a B grade for my basic photography class. The lecturer then proceeded to suggest that I pursue anything else but photography.

Comme des Garçons in Beijing

Issey Miyake in Beijing

Wearing: Issey Miyake blouse; Yencha trousers; Comme des Garçons coat; Jil Sander shoes

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Issey Miyake’s Plantation

May 8, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

With all the talk about Issey Miyake's history resurfacing again after his grand exhibit in Tokyo, I thought it's apt to look briefly into one of his under the radar lines - Issey Miyake Plantation as a follow up to the retrospective I wrote many moons ago.

The Plantation line was launched in 1981 by Issey Miyake himself, born out of his pursuit in textile research. He wanted to focus on creating everyday garments that were suitable for people's day to day needs. While the idea seems simple today, this was done in the 80s when most designers were only too keen on the concept of power dressing, offering broad shoulders, skimpy tight dresses and high heels. Don't forget the sticky lycra. In contrast, Miyake made clothing that offered luxurious craftsmanship out of natural materials such as cotton, linen and wool. The clothes made under this collection usually consisted of loose dresses, voluminous trousers and billowy coats.

Even though the Plantation line was not long-lived, its carefree spirit continues to live in other Issey Miyake's lines today, most notably in the HaaT line.

Issey Miyake plantation staff

issey miyake plantation shirt dress

issey miyake plantation ad

issey-coat-plantation-1issey-coat-plantation-1 (1)

issey-coat-plantation-1 (2)issey-plantation-cardigan-1

While those items are no longer available in store, you can still shop for more Issey Miyake items here.


ROSEN’s First Campaign

May 5, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

What happens when a store runs out of production budget to create a campaign? Well this. This, is the campaign that you have all been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen. No frills, no gimmicks. Just me and a camera on a tripod.


The Glory Days of Ancient China

April 28, 2016

by Gracia Ventus

Comme des Garçons Bad Taste

Ah, the summer palace of Beijing. Ye olde grand holiday spot for ye olde emperors of China. Whenever the royal family got bored of their wee little home in Forbidden City, they just clippity-clopped to their second home, if they didn't decide to go to the other Summer Palace, that is.

But Ma, it's so old and outdated, let's go to this new one, they just dug a lake and made a hill next to it!

It even had its own rows of shops so the royal family could do their shopping without leaving the compound. Must have been great to be a Chinese emperor, not needing to leave his estate to get a daily dose of bespoke robes. I do not envy being a female member of the harem though. If Chinese period dramas have taught me anything, it is that they simply ended up depressed, deranged, or dead.

Comme des Garçons Bad Taste

Looking at these beautiful halls, pavilions and endless greenery, I couldn't help but wish that I could live in the good ol' days of China. The days when some lucky men were granted the Mandate of Heaven on the basis of being born first into the right family. Not born into THAT family? No problem. Be a palace eunuch and you could nip off some of the royal riches. Just be prepared to have something else nipped off from you though. Peasants had it so good too; they needn't worry about class issues and tribulations because they were going to stay poor as hell with no prospect of social mobility anyway. And women! How I envied their lives! They never had to go through a Millenial's dating problems because they didn't get a say in who they were marrying to begin with. Oh to have one's life options taken away! That's a good load of burden removed from one's shoulders. Don't even get me started on not being allowed to leave the house. Don't we all crave for the days when we can just chill and Netflix for days on end? These ladies were ordered to chill at home all day and all night. Granted they didn't have Netflix, nor books, nor the ability to read books, but think of all that chilling a woman could have done back then. Especially after having one's feet bound and deformed.

The all-wise Confucius did say women's greatest responsibility was to churn out a son, to hell with having any other ambitions or one's own life (his words, not mine). So them lucky ladies, all they had to do was just to make sure their faces were nice-looking and feet deformed enough to score an arranged marriage, then off she went to assume the role of a human oven.

Ah, what I wouldn't do to live the good ol' days of Ancient China.

Comme des Garçons Bad Taste

Comme des Garçons Bad Taste

Comme des Garçons Bad Taste
Wearing: Comme des Garçons coat and trousers; Issey Miyake dress

Comme des Garçons 'Bad Taste' coat was released in the Fall/Winter 2008 collection. Shop for the skirt version here. Shop for Comme des Garçons archive collection here.