Tokyo's endless evolution informs the AMBUSH® SS23 pre-collection.
Creative Director Yoon Ahn has called the city home for twenty years, experiencing the freedom and speed with which its people mix, match and experiment with their looks. AMBUSH® celebrates that spirit through a wide-ranging yet tightly edited season that both looks back at some of the house's signature pieces and explores new silhouettes.
The particular moment Yoon felt drawn to, was the Tokyo she first came across two decades ago when the relationship between fashion and music was at its peak. Across the world, what you wore hinted at your musical tastes - in Japan, this was taken to a new extreme, with a hybrid look suggesting each wearer's eclectic sensibilities. The nexus of this was Shibuya, now home to the AMBUSH® offices.
SS23 is a new fashion mixtape from AMBUSH®, suggesting what the designer might like to see on the streets outside their HQ. Most styles are unisex, and the silhouettes are roomier than usual. Tracksuit jackets and pants have a loose fit, as do wide nylon pants and oversized shirts. Dolman sleeve mechanic shirts featuring the AMBUSH® logo incorporate a more workwear silhouette. This contrasts the denim, which comes as a series of sportswear hybrids. The rider's jacket is a classic motorbike shape remade in denim, zip-up jackets come in unexpected colour combinations, and jeans are spliced with nylon for a new shape. The AMBUSH® kimono jacket is also reimagined in denim, as is the bodice style that has become a signature.
Bowling and long-sleeved shirts with bright, nostalgic graphics are a nod to the rave and house culture that gave Shibuya its reputation as the epicentre for followers of rave and house music - the shirts taking their inspiration from iconic club nights and record labels. Unisex cargo pants and down jackets aid for a practical rave look, while blazers and great coats are their more formal yet still '90s counterparts. The tailoring can be worn with short suit pants, miniskirts, or stretchy pants that split into a little flare at the ankle (a carryover from the previous season), furthering Yoon's love of playing with and distorting the silhouette. There are cropped and side- adjustable styles of jackets, as well as a signature kimono tailored jacket, expanding the range of tailoring that can be mixed and matched, reflecting one of the key themes from the collection.
The colour scheme mixes the classics - denim and khaki, navy and black - with pops of acid bright. Shocking pink appears in the relaxed unisex range, the bodices, and accessories, while a neon yellow football kit or green shirt adds excitement. Tailoring comes in cerulean, racing green, and black, to be worn over shirts in dusky pink and baby blue or fitted sleeveless tops in bubble-gum and chartreuse.
The AMBUSH® heart makes a prominent return via cut-outs of different sizes on shirts, shirt dresses, and vests, and is abstracted for turtlenecks with cutaways, while knit tops, cardigans, and dresses are fastened by a small heart in the centre of the chest. This is part of retelling the house's signatures - from the hybrid materials and elongated silhouette, down to subtle details in the embellishments.
Jewellery, made in Japan, is part of the AMBUSH® origin story and where Yoon's obsessions are writ large. This season is no different, starting with the huge ball chain chokers, which take the '90s inspiration to a sized-up level. They are a twisted take on the classic ball chain in a gold, silver, or rainbow ION coated finish. Heart padlocks are repeated as a gold and silver chain, ring, and bracelet, as well as on a classic leather choker. Multicoloured pills and ombre mushrooms dangle from chains and safety pin earrings. An AMBUSH® graphic logo is interpreted as a charm necklace and signet ring, while the monogram serves as the clasp for link chains, bracelets, and rings - new classics from the house.
Heart bags come in both large and small sizes and reflect the materiality and colours of the collection, in black bondage leather, pink, and denim, with the curved handle in metal like a real padlock sized up. The soft Nejiri clutch comes in black, pink, and green, colours which continue across the accessories. The AMBUSH® "A" makes an unexpected appearance in each collection. This time, it is turned into the Tri evening bag with a silver chain and the end panels of the Trini bag. The "A" Flap Bag, takes the shape in a daytime direction, a large size for the everyday, in both black and red leather, and an array of colours in small. Crossbody, carry-all, and waist bags align with the collection's functional, rave spirit.
Shoes channel the freedom of the club scene, made for dancing at all-nighters. Platforms are lofty, coming as thigh- and knee-high buckled boots, ankle boots in black and denim, bondage heels and mules in both black and neon animal print. This harks back to the remix culture that inspires AMBUSH® for SS23 pre-season, with each platform a hybrid, whether it be sweet, punk, or retro. The cushion mule comes in all the collection's colours, with its signature toe strap, as does a strappy sandal with a fluted heel.
Unisex footwear styles are more aligned with the practical impulse behind the season and reflect the archetypes Yoon has explored throughout SS23. The biker boot is bulbous, as are the rubber boots and sliders, anchoring the looks with their heft. Hiking boots, runners, and slides give a twist to the classic - just as the clothing plays with the classic, the footwear adds new dimensions to the soles and volume to the laces, making you look twice.
Just as Tokyoites took influences from the style and music magazines they eagerly awaited each month, creating a look totally their own, Yoon looks to the fashion characters of her beloved city and makes something uniquely AMBUSH®.