Photo: Daniel Sannwald. Source from Vogue.
The article first appeared on Vogue.
The term fashion tech hangs like a specter over the industry, as the prospect of creating a successful hybrid has begun to feel as likely as finding the proverbial golden egg–laying goose. But now a novel contender has appeared in Tokyo, a city where technology is closely embedded in daily life: Giddy Up, a new label designed by Mikio Sakabe that employs 3-D printing in an artistic fashion to create whimsical clothes and shoes.
The Japanese avant-gardist graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp in the same class as Demna Gvasalia, then went on to launch a namesake label in Tokyo known particularly for its fantastic footwear: baroque velvet platforms wrapped in several pastel silk ribbons or embellished with a lacquered heel inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Shoes will be the main offering from Giddy Up as well, along with one-off garments in the same vein. But instead of the wistful nostalgia that had previously defined Sakabe’s work, Giddy Up will look forward. “I thought now is the good time to do something together: fashion and technology, mixing these different backgrounds,” he says. “To create something entirely new, fashion really needs to think not only of design but also fresh materials.”
Enter DMM, a Japanese e-commerce company that has branched out into such fields as video streaming and virtual reality, and owns a dedicated 3-D printing department. According to CEO Takanori Katagiri, the team has long wanted to use its resources to push fashion tech forward—and Sakabe was the ideal choice to lead the vanguard, in part due to his “connection to the global fashion scene” and personal interest in the idea. The challenge for Sakabe was the use of new fabrics (such as printed thermoplastics) that the average person would never have worn. “This freshness brings you to the future, but [the designs] are grounded in reality,” he says.
The collection, which can be exclusively previewed in the photos above, was inspired by Sakabe’s vision to “create a new human, who is living in the future—the balance of technology and reality.” The first images, photographed by Daniel Sannwald, neatly walk that line: An iridescent foil wrap dress with a parodic twist on the curling Chupa Chups logo, or a pretty carpet bag of a sack dress with embroidered blooms juxtaposed with an athletic stretch knit sneaker.
The sneakers are the main event: elastic knit logo socks attached to all manner of colorful coils, wrought from PA 12, a fine-grain polyamide resin used in plastic auto parts (for the brand’s first runway show in Paris this fall, Sakabe plans to replace the PA 12 with polyurethane). Sakabe offset the sci-fi discs by using lovely shades of tangerine and lilac and using curved organic shapes. “I was thinking of a new cushion (springs!) and feeling the ground through the shoes,” Sakabe says. “Giddy Up means let’s go!, but I also like the meaning giddy itself—thoughtless or lazy.” There’s nothing lazy about Sakabe’s end goal, however: “We want to make a maison from Asia.” Let’s go.
Read more on Vogue.