Stein’s Kiichiro Asakawa is a self-described maniakku. The Japanese word, itself a transliteration of the English maniac, more accurately means enthusiast or obsessive. Case in point: this season’s half nylon, half powder-bleached denim jeans were made by no less than four separate factories––one for the denim, one for the bleaching, one for the nylon, and one to splice everything together.
Those jeans are as good an example as any of Asakawa’s uncompromising approach. “I have this strong desire to create exactly what I envision and to eliminate anything that might take away from that,” he said happily as he combed through the collection on a temporary rail at Carol, the Tokyo boutique that he owns and operates from, after it had closed for the day.
This season’s theme was “Linear,” and Asakawa worked to interrogate the lines and borders of silhouettes, of seams, of textiles––hence those spliced four-factory trousers. Much of the outerwear, the best of it made from sleek, vegetable-tanned leather and a tightly woven wool gabardine, was punctuated with metal rivets on the sides or the back of the neck to give an industrial edge, while the hardware-studded fishing vests were trendy without feeling derivative. The brand also introduced hoods for the first time, and experimented with shorter jacket silhouettes rather than the long, billowy coats Asakawa does so well (though there were still a few of the latter to enjoy, elegantly tied together with leather belts as thin as string).
The lookbook images don’t quite do the clothes justice. In real life they appear more expensive and stylish, and will surely be on the backs of many taste-conscious Tokyoites come spring. At least in terms of pure retail appeal, Asakawa is a worthy maniakku for the moment.