“This season, the Tokyo James man is not listening to the noise,” declared designer Tokyo James as he called from his home country of Nigeria. “I want to emphasize that not every collection is the same, and that’s intentional,” he continued, “I like to do something different every season.”

Not unlike the man he had in mind while designing this spring 2024 lineup, James marches to the beat of his own drum. “I find it boring that you can predict what a brand will give you every season, I want you to be pleasantly surprised with every collection,” he explained. It’s true that James’s collections often read like different books rather than chapters within the same tome, but he makes an interesting case here. These days, consistency for the sake of strong branding means designers often make change within the boundaries of a defined, and often constrictive, aesthetic. What James is doing is applying specific design elements—zippers, shirring, texture—to build an expansive brand profile. Whether this approach will work in the long run remains to be seen, but it’s a worthwhile experiment.

This time around, James split his men’s and women’s collections in favor of further compartmentalizing his storytelling. “We’ve always been a menswear brand and we dabbled into womenswear,” he said. “We’re going back to our roots and concentrating on what we are known for more.” This is not to say that he’s doing away with his women’s line altogether. James will showcase womenswear in September, he’s just giving both lines room to grow as he hones his point of view. “We understand our man, and we’re still understanding the woman,” he added.

This did not mean a tighter edit for men’s. James used a variety of fabrications including pineapple leather, crepes, jerseys (bonded for stiffness and paneled into tops and pants with exposed serging), and, most distinctly, custom lace. “I think guys are being more experimental,” he said, hence the laces. What struck a chord was the nonchalant tailoring cut in colorful and quirky laces and the playful modular skirts, which connect to trousers via separating zippers. His collections may read as different books, but James manages to make clear that they’re by the same author.

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