I find oversized clothes quite intriguing, right now. There are lots of them about, as the autumn/winter collections enter stores: the French brand Vetements, who I’ve written about before, have built a large part (no pun) of their identity around XXL tailoring; we also saw it at Balenciaga, Mary Katrantzou, and half-a-dozen other places.
They look nice, with artful swathes of fabric lapping onto the floor. And while these garments are the bane of many a shop assistant’s life, the customers (who one could seldom call “outsized”) get a lot of bolt for their buck.
But much as I love the look of that giant beige Vetements trench-coat that could do double-duty as a two-man tent come Glasto 2016, I for one can’t wear the stuff. I wonder who can, bar the attenuated beanpoles we call models, or those diminutive enough of frame to look attractive when swamped.
Most men don’t. And when they do, it tends to be out of practicality: a loose coat means your arms can move freely; oversized trousers let you squat. This stuff also makes you look bigger and butcher – if you’re already big and butch. If not – like me – it looks like you got lost in your dad’s wardrobe.
Alongside those heffalump coats so big you measure their size in berths, Junya Watanabe’s pleasing pleats have quietly slipped into such stores as London’s Selfridges and Dover Street Market, the Sistine Chapel of fashion avant garde-ism. And oversized stuff is standard for the triumvirate of Japanese greats – Watanabe, Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto.
The latter two have been doing it since the early Eighties, when they focused on the Oriental tradition of wrapping the body in fabric, rather than the Occidental fixation on tailoring clothes to clutch at it. And generally, it was done in a dour mood.
“Post-Hiroshima chic” was one comment about their sombre, usually all-black attire. Most of Junya Watanabe’s winter collection is black, too. However, these Junyas are joyous – both to wear, and to just mess about with. If you’re near Selfridges, or Dover Street, go in and have a play until a sales assistant tells you to naff off: they’re like fabric versions of concertina-ed Chinese lanterns, or the dodgy peacocks you get in luridly-coloured cocktails.
On the body, these clothes are oversized, sort of. They plump out your hips, puff out your chest, and do all sorts of dreadful things to your waist. They make you look like a great big lump. So why am I debating buying? Because – as I once said about an especially “abstract” Yamamoto show – sometimes you just want to look like a potato. Or, at least, you don’t want your body to be the sole focus of attention (yours or anyone else’s.) Maybe that’s the alluring attraction of the oversized. It makes you focus not on the body inside the clothes, but the brain inside the body.Reuse content