Thursday 28th March

| BY Paul Toner

Kozaburo Talks Us Through His J Brand Denim Collab

Photograph by Dominic Rawle.

Over the years, J Brand have established themselves as the denim-wear polymaths of the industry. The LA-based brand, founded in 2005, was a pivotal figure in renouncing baggy fit jeans, trickling the focus to a skinnier, form-fitting silhouette. But aside from reshaping, refining and re-interpreting new silhouettes, it is J Brand’s collaborations with young design talent that continually push the denim envelope. Christopher Kane lifted the pre-school-friendly neon hues of his graduate collection to a range of jackets and skinny jeans back in 2011. Simone Rocha produced an array of ‘boyfriend-fit jeans’ in a brazen cherry red, the hips appliquéd with delicate thrills. Even the Proenza Schouler boys had a go, scribbling high-waisted numbers with navy and white ink.

It’s no wonder then that J Brand has now turned to LVMH Prize winner Kozaburo Akasaka for their latest design partnership. “My interest in denim is its diversity. It is most commonly produced in the modern world, And is personalised by wear and tear, repairing, and repeating the process,” writes the designer over email. Raised in Tokyo, before moving to London to study at Central Saint Martins, Kozaburo now resides in NYC – where his first-year designs at the MFA Parsons programme won him VFiles’ runway competition for the SS16 season. This collaboration marks his debut stint into designing a collection focused on just womenswear.

“For the capsule, I gave new life to dead stock jeans using J Brand’s archives,” says Kozaburo. “We came up with the idea of collaborating to create something new from something old through my world of respecting material and aesthetic.” Through looking at what already existed, Kozaburo skewed the silhouettes of the brand’s own classics, such as the Ruby cigarette shape, clashing a multitude of different denim samples grappled from the brand’s deadstock.

Photograph by Dominic Rawle.

The collection consists of five different styles, each named after heroines from Kozaburo’s favourite films, “I grew up in the 1990s, American pop culture especially movies and songs were a big resource for my imagination.” Although the work for his namesake label is heavily inspired by the Japanese sub-cultures of yesteryears, Americana has been an underwritten focal point for the designer. You only have to look at his AW18 collection that toyed with the visual codes of the cowboy uniform. An array of leather chaps, block healed boots and paisley balaclavas showed Kozaburo’s knack for storytelling.

Kozaburo presents a crafty approach in bringing a distinct look aloft. The subtle intricacies of each pair are brash, robust even. Either in their finish (exposed seems and slits up the calf) or the imperfections that would usually be left on the cutting room floor –  see the prominent fraying and flashes of red thread that give the jeans a harder edge. Kozaburo’s approach goes hand-in-hand with J Brand’s eco-conscience design ethos, “J Brand has innovative sustainable manufacturing processes in place to create the original jeans,” he says. “I believe [sustainablity] will become part of a moral code.”

The collection is available to buy at J Brand now, and is stocked at Selfridges, Barneys New York and Lane Crawford. //