WHEN PARIS MEETS TOKYO. The Louis Vuitton x Fragment Design pop-up store in Singapore saw a queue snaking along Orchard Road. Chris Andre finds out why
Christopher Kilaniotis (president of Louis Vuitton South Asia) and Hiroshi Fujiwara
The short explanation to the aforementioned long line would be: It’s all thanks to social media. Both Kim Jones, artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s collections, and Hiroshi Fujiwara, founder of Fragment Design, are very much active on their respective Instagram accounts, dispensing bits and pieces from their travels and fashionable creations. Even more importantly, Louis Vuitton’s true devotees would know that last year, Jones had a special Louis Vuitton pop-up store at the now-defunct Park . Ing Ginza, Tokyo—which was owned by Fujiwara, by the way. A number of smaller leather goods, bearing the iconic check motif but with a surprise Fragment Design logo inside, were unveiled to an excited mob of fans.
The limited edition Teddy Bear
This year, however, marks the first time that the two fashion heads blended their aesthetics instead of merely providing their respective stamps of approval. Months before the pop-up store kicked off at Ginza on April 20 and at Orchard Road on April 21, Fujiwara gradually teased his Instagram followers with exclusive images of a tote bag, shoe and even stuffed crocodile doll wrapped in a Louis Vuitton leather seemingly taken from the anticipated fashion collaboration. Although that successfully stirred up a great buzz, some of the brand’s millennial fans quietly raised a (perhaps indignant) question: Who is Hiroshi Fujiwara?
“Never before had a Louis Vuitton Men’s collection commanded such a crowd in Singapore”
Godfather of Streetwear
Fashion designer, musician and retail maverick: It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Fujiwara in one category. He was responsible for bringing hip-hop to Tokyo’s music scene in the late ’80s, and subsequently the streetwear style that the genre entails. For the fashion part, it then generated a cult of followers and successors, including much-hyped indie labels like A Bathing Ape and Undercover. Under his own brand Fragment Design, Fujiwara has also sparked the rise of fancy sneakers, elevating sportswear kicks.
All that and artistic inspirations from talented names of the past, the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, were the influences he brought to the anticipated collaboration with Louis Vuitton. And it was such a timely proposition, given how Louis Vuitton is now big on quirky capsule collections. For the Singapore launch, especially, the French luxury house went the extra mile by releasing it at a unique venue.
A lookbook image
The Singapore Launch
Singapore has never been short of grand Louis Vuitton boutiques. The Louis Vuitton x Fragment Design collection, interestingly, did not kick off at any of the usual suspects. Instead, the multi-brand Surrender Store at Orchard Road was picked as the venue of choice.
Scheduled to open a day after the Ginza launch, this pop-up store offered the complete capsule collection, including seven limited items that would not be available at the boutiques. Those were the leather teddy bear, tote bag, rainbow-patterned shirt and several other pieces.
While the press and a few celebs, including Richard Kyle from Indonesia, managed to get a sneak peek hours before the official opening for VIPs on April 21 at 19.30, none of them could snap any of the pieces. Kyle, being a Louis Vuitton fan, was really impressed with the mostly black-and-white assortment on display, and he took to DA MAN’s Instagram account to share his excitement.
The Surrender Store
Unlike Kyle though, many VIPs couldn’t wait any longer and decided to stand in line for the opening right after sunset that day. Needless to say, when the door was opened at 19.30 sharp, chaos ensued—but what an exciting moment it was. Hordes of male millennials gunned for the racks and shelves, frantically inspecting the details: Most of the pieces very much resembled what Louis Vuitton ordinarily carries, from the duffle bags to the trunk-like phone case to the high-top military boots, save the black stripe and the Fragment Design logo. If not in black and white, the pieces went full rainbow, as in the limited edition shirt and the exclusive carabiners (metal loops typically for rock climbing).
Hiroshi Fujiwara himself popped up that evening, wearing his signature black shades. He took pictures with various attending celebrities from all over the region under the eye-catching banner that read “Louis Vuitton Forever.” As with any godfather of fashion, he did not say much, and simply posed and nodded every now and then. Well, seeing how the crowd still flocked to the cashiers past 9.30PM, the capsule collection seemed to have spoken for itself. Even all the limited pieces were finished before 9PM.
The Day After
As the Surrender Store finally opened the Louis Vuitton x Fragment Design collection to the public on the following day, videos of the snaking queue of millennials on Orchard Road popped up on Instagram. Never before had a Louis Vuitton Men’s collection commanded such a crowd in Singapore. That capsule collection, safe to say, could be the greatest collaboration Louis Vuitton has had for men to date.