Utility fashion is about highlighting elements of practical clothing and taking it to the extreme. It’s the epitome of form versus function, as both are maximised and brought to the front of attention.
Historically, utility clothing was first produced to help the British military efforts and aid the economy during the second world war. Cloth, wool, and leather were all in short supply, as were clothes makers, as much of the skilled labour force had left to fight. The government took control of cloth imports and manufacturing, encouraging manufacturers to reduce the range of garments and instead produce items which had more utility value. The shoes made were chunky and solid, usually with wedges or low heels, and all close-toed. All other garments had to make full use of the cloth real estate, jamming in as many pockets, hoods and useful components as possible. Now, utility has become a clean, functional style that plays on the practical aspects, such as belts, hoods, zips and pockets. Natural colour palettes like grey, black, navy, tan, and whites are all repeatedly used in the design style, especially in traditional utility clothing where any unnecessary colour was frowned upon.
From left: Wewill: Resene Bubble N Squeak , Hare: Resene Twisted Sister, Shohei: Resene Aura
At Wewill’s Spring Ready-to-Wear 2019 show at Tokyo Fashion Week, designer Hidetaka Fukuzono displayed a gender-blurring collection. In a beige look close to Resene Bubble N Squeak, the loose-fitting jacket with oversized box pockets gives off a safari or zookeeper vibe.
Inspired by the shapes of the desert, Gauchère’s collection designed by Marie Christine Statz’s, featured an earthy palette, the collection playfully used proportions and contrasting between technical materials and rough fabrics. Delivering exaggerated shoulders, pockets, and belts; this ensemble is similar to Resene Eighth Bokara Grey, and blurs the lines between traditional 1940s utility clothing and a modern monochrome look.
Focussing on unique and technical materials, Shohei’s collection featured parkas with all sorts of functions. Showcasing menswear and womenswear, this jacket in a hue close to Resene Aura, highlights zip-off components and inverted pockets.
Designer Jenny Fax drew inspiration from themes of childhood and made her RTW Spring 2019 collection resemble a grown-up fairy tale. Elements of humour and youthfulness were matched with less innocent details like undone buttons and underwear worn on the outside. The colossal pockets, shoulders, and lapels on their blue stonewashed denim blazer, like Resene Bali Hai, are so big that they go well and truly beyond the point of being functional.
Hare’s Tokyo RTW Spring 2019 collection was sporty and full of bright colours. The design team lit up the runway with vibrant sporty mesh dresses, bomber jackets and satin jumpsuits. One model wore an orange coat in a colour like Resene Twisted Sister, layered over a yellow hoodie. The outfit, and the rest of the collection, was festooned with drawstrings, and other details like fanny packs and oversized cargo pockets. This gave the collection a decidedly noughties-esque look.
At Christian Dada and Bed J.W. Ford’s Stage Joint Show at Tokyo Fashion Week. Filled with dramatic contrasting displays; this tight-fitting yellow short-sleeve raincoat in a hue resembling Resene Hive screamed high visibility on top of the black jumper. The collection played with all opposing spectrums, dark and light, fitted and loose, monochrome and radiantly colourful.
Fashion Colour Inspiration
View fashion colour palettes from Apparel magazine combining the latest fashion from the catwalk with paint colours from Resene.