When done well, there is often something compelling about collaborations between the academic and the commercial. Add a sprinkle of internationalism and prepare with youthful energy and you have the recipe for success—as is the case with VIEW.S, a new clothing line designed for Zara by Bunka Gakuen University’s best and brightest.
VIEW.S is a collaborative project between the high street fashion chain and Bunka Gakuen University, one of the world’s leading fashion and design schools. Five students were chosen to work on the project—two Japanese nationals and international students from Australia, France and Germany. The finished product is certainly a cut above Zara’s standard fast fashion offerings, drawing on Japanese street fashion and Bunka’s design acumen to create a collection that is interesting and distinctive, but with the commercial sensibilities expected of the high street. The coloring is subdued with flashes of nautical blues and reds. Shapes suggest naval or school uniforms and patterns hint at kimono prints. For good measure, sneakers, straps and multiple pockets give an almost futuristic edge to a pastiche that somehow doesn’t feel like a patchwork quilt of influences. With imagery by ridiculously hip London-based photographer Alessio Bolzoni, the overall impression is slick, sceptically urban and very, very 2018.
You can see the collection for yourself at a pop-up store in Roppongi Hill’s North Tower (slightly outside of the main Hills complex, next to Metro Hat), complete with walls screening videos of the collection’s shoot on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. The pop-up shop will remain open until June 10, and from June 7 the collection will become available in three Zara stores in Japan: Shinjuku, Nagoya and Shinsaibashisuji, as well as online worldwide at zara.com.
Ultimately, offering opportunities to young designers is a win-win for Zara who get both an innovative new collection and an image boost. Even in Japan, one of the largest fashion markets in the world, fashion design is not an easy field to break into, so one hopes that the collaboration will help these young talents launch their careers. The five students have been kind enough to share their experiences with Metropolis.
Scott James Marsh
For me, the most interesting part of this collaboration was having the opportunity to capture a little bit of the essence of Tokyo’s youth street style, and work as part of a diverse team with members from Europe and Japan, in conjunction with the Zara design office. As a team, we had to overcome our different approaches to design and language barriers to transform our concept into a store-ready product. It was a new challenge to consider designing for a global market, taking into account different tastes, climates and seasons and also moving past our student’s design sensibility to design for a fast fashion customer.
By participating in this collaboration with Zara, I learned things that I wasn’t able to learn in a school environment, such as how to work with a company, how to design as a member of a team, and to think about the needs of customers.
As a textile and texture designer, the Zara/Bunka partnership was a great opportunity to learn how to build a fashion project from its conception to its realization. Also, I experienced working with a team of international people and a variety of working styles due to the cultural background of each member.
It was my first time to make one thing with a team of five, so I had a hard time, at first, respecting and sharing each other’s thoughts. However, through communicating extensively, even during our private time, we were able to overcome these differences. I hope that this collection will provide an opportunity for people to remember at least one of our faces and names, so that they can focus on our future projects.
Having a design team with different educational and international backgrounds made this project challenging and educational for me. By living in Japan it was a pleasure to catch the zeitgeist and finally to hold the finished product in our own hands. Even if we had troubles in communication at the start (English, French and Japanese), it was a wonderful experience and I believe it will help us in further projects and designs. All in all, I think we created a sporty but elegant menswear collection which holds many key pieces and stands above the fast fashion section