Sam Reed reports for Pret-a-Porter that Daisuke Obana, designer of Japanese menswear label N. Hoolywood, sparked quite the debate on Feb. 1, 2017 with his homeless youth-inspired fall 2017 collection at New York Men’s Fashion Week.
Some critics, as well as homeless advocates, call the collection, “tasteless,” “tone-deaf” and “insensitive”. As an example, Fashionista‘s Steve Dool wrote in his review that Obana’s vision was “either condescending, ignorant, almost inconceivably out of touch or some hellish combination of all three,” and that Obana’s collection was “like a fetishized version of homelessness. The clothes individually were luxurious and expensive. … The N. Hoolywood homeless man is a sanitized, polished type of homeless.”
Others, however, went all SJW, seeing great profundity in the homeless menswear collection. One of Obana’s admirers is The New York Times‘ Guy Trebay, who waxed eloquent, pointing out “that the glass of fashion is mostly a reflective device” and that Obana’s homeless menswear “served as a reminder of an often invisible population — one that, in light of recent studies showing that in almost no place in the United States can a person working a 40-hour week at minimum wage afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, seems destined to increase.”
Obana told Hype Beast ahead of his show that he was inspired when he “witnessed the ‘gutter punk’ subculture during my travels through America,” and was impressed by their “inventiveness,” and how a plastic bag can be used to carry possessions as well as serving as a waterproof shoe covering when it rains. To emphasize the homeless nature of his new line of menswear, street-cast models were told to hit the catwalk with their eyes downcast with, as NYT‘s Trebay put it, wear “dazed expressions that made some look as though they had forgotten to take their meds.”
Oddly, although he designs menswear, Obana wears only T- and sweat-shirts.
Obana’s N. Hoolywood collection, however, isn’t cheap. Priced from about $55 to $500, the menswear sells online at East Dane, Yoox and other retailers.
Buyers of the N. Hoolywood line should wear a sign on their back:
Kick me. I’m a Useful Idiot
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