Anarchy in high fashion

Items such as brooch pins (above) and leather pouches with a USB graphic print (left) are being sold at the pop-up store, which runs till Sunday.
"Some people say streetwear should stay in the streets, but I don't think so because I see it as me breaking into Louis Vuitton and making a mess. " - HIROSHI FUJIWARA (above, in the foreground with the queue outside the Singapore pop-up store), founder of label Fragment Design. He is in a varsity jacket from the capsule collection.PHOTOS: LOUIS VUITTON
Items such as brooch pins (above) and leather pouches with a USB graphic print are being sold at the pop-up store, which runs till Sunday.
Items such as brooch pins (above) and leather pouches with a USB graphic print are being sold at the pop-up store, which runs till Sunday. PHOTOS: LOUIS VUITTON
Items such as brooch pins (above) and leather pouches with a USB graphic print (left) are being sold at the pop-up store, which runs till Sunday.
Items such as brooch pins and leather pouches with a USB graphic print (above) are being sold at the pop-up store, which runs till Sunday.PHOTOS: LOUIS VUITTON

A collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Fragment Design blurs the line between luxury and streetwear

The humble dust bag has acted as a protective storage bag for many a designer tote.

But it has now become the inspiration for a bag in a new luxury designer collection, namely Louis Vuitton x Fragment - the French fashion house's capsule collection done in collaboration with Hiroshi Fujiwara, founder of label Fragment Design.

The Cabas tote bag has a drawstring closure and comes in black fabric or in Louis Vuitton's signature monogrammed canvas.

Fujiwara, who spoke in English with a lilting Japanese accent, says: "When you buy a bag, it usually comes in another bag. So, I've always wondered what one would do with that bag. Why don't we put straps on it and use it as a tote bag?"

The 53-year-old was in Singapore recently for the launch of the capsule collection's pop-up store in multi-label streetwear boutique Surrender at 268 Orchard Road.

Other items in the collection include accessories such as leather pouches with a floppy-disk or USB graphic print, and metal-ball necklaces made of metallic multi- hued metal. Limited-edition items such as brooch pins and carabiners will be sold exclusively at the pop-up store, which runs till Sunday.

There are also clothes such as varsity jackets, zipper vests, T- shirts, jeans and a preppy boy- scout-like uniform of a chino shirt with matching shorts. Prices start at $440 for accessories.

The capsule collection, launched in Singapore on April 22, is inspired by 1980s downtown New York with a hint of American sportswear and blurs the line between streetwear and luxury.

In the past, similar collaborations between high-end labels and streetwear brands have earned criticism from streetwear fans who see such collaborations as selling out.

For example, when Louis Vuitton's collaboration with New York streetwear label Supreme was unveiled in January, fans of Supreme reportedly felt exploited and betrayed.

Fujiwara, who is credited with bringing in streetwear and hip-hop culture to Japan in the 1980s and has earned a cult-like status among streetwear aficionados worldwide, disagrees with such sentiments.

"Some people say streetwear should stay in the streets, but I don't think so because I see it as me breaking into Louis Vuitton and making a mess, which is a kind of anarchy and breaking stereotypes," he says.

Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton's artistic director for its men's ready- to-wear line, who collaborated with Fujiwara on the collection, says working with streetwear labels is the "modern thing to do".

The 37-year-old, who is based in Paris, adds in a telephone interview: "These streetwear designers are extremely clever and know how to make good clothing and they are the master of branding. That goes hand in hand with what Louis Vuitton stands for.

"We have a lot of similarities that make the collaboration exciting and a lot of customers around the world are looking for something new."

Singapore rapper Mean, whose real name is Nur Ahmad Muhaimin, agrees, saying the collaboration is a long time coming.

The 28-year-old spent $3,000 on a carabiner, three brooches and two pouches - one with the floppy-disk print and the other with an iPad one. He plans to also buy the varsity jacket and beret from the collection.

He says: "If you look at Kim Jones, he's streetwear-oriented, you know it's bound to happen. Nowadays, there are no boundaries between high-street and high-end labels. It's only natural that everything comes together."

In a way, the capsule collection is a testament to the friendship and admiration between Jones and Fujiwara, who have known each other for about two decades, having first met in London.

Jones recalls wearing clothes from Fujiwara's first label, Goodenough, and being excited by his "interesting designs that you wouldn't see anywhere else".

He says: "Hiroshi taught me a lot about designing menswear - he's one of my heroes."

•The Louis Vuitton Singapore Pop-Up Store is at Surrender, 01-03, 268 Orchard Road, open: 11am to 9pm daily, tel: 6733-2130

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Anarchy in high fashion'. Print Edition | Subscribe