Where fashion and art fuse: introducing Kin’s dual-gender collection
Kin’s new collaboration with Swiss graphic artist Julmeme is a stunning dual-gender collection inspired by nature and the power of wellbeing
Since its first collection launched in 2013, Kin (our in-house brand at John Lewis) has taken inspiration from all forms of Japanese art and design. Structured silhouettes for men and women, combined with beautiful traditional and modern prints, have found their way into each collection, and this one is no different.
This 11-piece dual-gender collection for men or women has been designed in collaboration with Swiss graphic artist Julmeme – aka Julien Mercier – who lives and works in Tokyo. ‘I take my inspiration from everyday life,’ Julien says. ‘It can come from nature, intriguing elements, or typography around me. I tried to reflect that in the design for this collection by creating unique and interesting shapes.’
As with most of Kin’s collaborations, print is a major winner in this collection, with Julmeme using Japanese kanji (the characters that are used in the Japanese writing system) and a whole range of unique and enchanting prints, alongside elements of Swiss typography. ‘I learned typography principles during my graphic design studies in Switzerland but the real focus on typography came later when I started living in Japan,’ explains Julien. ‘Learning Japanese and discovering a new writing system was fascinating. It made me want to explore the complexity of the Japanese kanji characters by combining my typography knowledge.’
The collection features four exclusive prints which run throughout various pieces and were designed specifically by Julien, the most notable (and his favourite) being the Ukiyo-e ‘pine’ print which is said to represent longevity, good fortune and steadfastness in Japanese culture.
When it comes to the silhouette of the collection, Kin’s structured and utility-inspired handwriting still reigns supreme, and each piece has been energised with volume and vibrant colour – as well as the aforementioned prints. The androgynous nature of this collection sets it apart, with floaty and boxy pieces for womenswear and a collection of printed tees and shirts and loose-fitting trousers and shorts for men.
And while Julien has carved a name for himself in the fashion industry, working with brands such as Loewe and appearing in magazines including Milk, this collection is the first of its kind for him and his brand. ‘The whole process and collaboration with John Lewis has been very smooth,’ Julien says. ‘The experience of the team was helpful for me to understand well how to make an attractive pattern for a fashion line based on my design.’ And that, we think, is exactly what he has achieved.