One of my favorite aspects of being a fashion designer is pursuing the answers to aesthetic questions through my collections. If you’ve been following ADEAM for a while (thank you!), you’ll know that the brand is a reflective one—my bicontinental childhood often serves as fodder for my inquiries. It’s almost trite to say fashion is cyclical, but as I observed the resurgence of Y2K trends, I couldn’t help but reflect on my formative years in the early aughts. What culture was I consuming then?
In the early 2000s, I was obsessed with the manga NANA, a fashion-forward graphic narrative about two women navigating the Japanese rock music scene. Later, I learned one of the character’s relationship was very much inspired by Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen’s. I was also listening to punk rock, not of The Clash or the Ramones variety but the subgenre of pop-punk. My four-disc CD player was filled with albums by bands like Green Day and Blink-182. Like many an angsty teen, I was undoubtedly attracted to their catchy, expansive, often downcast sounds. However, I was equally fascinated by its surrounding culture and how its “anti-fashion” fashion asserted itself. The prefix curiously didn’t denote apathy. After all, cutting, dyeing, and distressing clothes took more effort than wearing something off the rack. So what does teenage angst look like in 2023? In this collection, you’ll find a bricolage of textures and patterns: faux leather, plaid, Gothic lace, tulle, and velvet. We’ve moved away from the more romantic and fantastical elements of our recent collections to create something more stripped-down and less embellished. The punk style is casual and carefree but also deliberate in its deconstruction. As such, it complements ADEAM's vision of eveningwear as something that is not precious or delicate but a natural progression from daywear. We wanted to create a collection that spans the gamut in tone and utility—dramatic faux leather silhouettes, sharp suiting, angel hair cardigans, and sweatshirts live harmoniously in the same wardrobe.
ADEAM ICHI, our gender-neutral collection, is inspired by the aesthetics of another subgenre of rock music that defined my teen years: grunge. Unlike punk music, I became familiar with grunge first through its style. Kim Gordon’s fashion brand, X-girl, was at its peak of popularity in my pre-teen years. I remember dragging my father to the store in Urahara, a small “hidden” area in Harajuku once known as the breeding ground for innovative brands that cross-referenced domestic and Western cultures (think Undercover and A Bathing Ape). Through X-girl, I discovered noise rock band Sonic Youth; through Sonic Youth, I learned of Nirvana. And soon, I found myself diving deeply into this particular American subculture. Looking back almost two decades later, I find grunge's utilitarian androgyny to be consonant with the ethos of ICHI, a collection where we are at our most playful. The silhouettes are oversized; the fabrics are durable. We reimagined cargo shorts using Japanese workwear fabrics. ADEAM’s signature convertibility appears in the stripe shirt that morphs into a sweater with the shirt tied around its waist. Another unique piece is the poncho that can be stowed in an attached pouch, which can also be worn as a crossbody bag.
In thinking about the recurring motifs in fashion in my not-so-long lifetime, I was struck anew that great design isn’t always defined by the novel, nor is it a matter of romanticizing the past. My collections make no claims to be authentically punk or grunge—that is beside the point. Great design seems to me works of synthesis and exposition—allowing new and old ideas to flourish in the current intellectual and spiritual environment. The Fall & Winter 2023 collections are manifestations of that pursuit of inquiry. I hope you enjoy the outcome as much as I enjoyed the process.
Hanako Maeda, CEO & Creative Director of ADEAM