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Kenzo merges maritime apparel with maison archives in new campaign

Kenzo is tapping into a trend that has been loved for generations, infusing a fresh playfulness and imagination into the classic look. Image credit: Kenzo

French fashion label Kenzo is exploring nautical wear in a new collection, highlighting a historically-rich style of dressing with deep cuts from the house's archives.

With creative director Nigö newly at the helm, the spring-summer 2023 collection is filled with odes to both the future, as well as the history of fashion. The Japanese designer is bringing together innovative fabrics, archival prints and childhood in this nod to nauticals.

Hitting up history Kenzo is referencing both brand history and the history of fashion in the collection campaign.

While the nautical look is having a renaissance across luxury brands, Kenzo’s new collection is especially centered around it. Each piece features sea-worthy practicality and brand paraphernalia.

Models run along a hazy beach, their brilliantly-colored attire contrasting dramatically against the gray horizon. Maritime patches, scarlet hues and bold stripes bring to mind images of sailors and whimsical, childhood attire.

In playful fashion, models wearing lifevests jump off of sand dunes, swoop towards the sky in a swingset and twirl wearing vibrant colors.

The classic pieces to maritime fashion are given a modern twist via Kenzo branding, reimagined styles and gender-fluid cuts. Image credit: Kenzo

The infusion of childhood play throughout the campaign speaks to the history of nautical looks in the fashion world, as the aesthetic first became popular thanks to a child. More specifically, Prince Albert Edward– the son of Queen Victoria.

The monarch brought the look to the mainstream after commissioning a sailor suit that would fit the little prince in 1846. Photographs of the child wearing the outfit circulated widely, jump-starting a new genre of children’s fashion and relaxed clothing looks for adults.

France also had a part to play in bringing the naval look to the public, the French being the inventors behind the striped tricot rayé, or Breton top that is central to nautical fashion today.

As fishermen and travelers adopted the look, it internationally became associated with adventurous living. It is noteworthy that Kenzo, a French brand, chose to adopt the piece.

Swingsets and runs along the beach breathe playfulness into the nautical campaign, complimenting the look's history. Image credit: Kenzo

Between the naval and royal associations and the links to children and free-spirited adults, the maritime look comes with both notes of playfulness and power.

The models further speak to this in the Kenzo campaign, leaping through the air and taking center frame in their bright looks. Life preservers, patches and sailor kerchiefs are sported, making the viewer wonder if the items are more playful, or are rather symbols of power.

Japanese denim, reimaginings of Kenzo logos and young artists such as American skater Lil Dre weave the future into this historically-rich heritage of the look. With inclusivity in mind, this is a modern take on a treasured fashion style.

Championing childhood Nigö is finding the sweet spot between honoring the brand’s history and embracing the future.

This drop is a testament to that, as he found a way to make a look made popular by colonizing monarchs diverse, reimagining what place fashion can hold in society. French fashion house Chloé is also working to reinvent the fashion industry’s view of luxury through inclusivity and sustainability (see story).

Other brands are looking to the future by drawing heavily on childhood memories, working to bring consumers back to a place of imagination rather than minimalistic aesthetics that often dominate the luxury world of adults. Louis Vuitton recently featured giant paper airplanes and playful colors in a kid-core drop, falling in line with this free-spirited attitude toward fashion (see story).

Kenzo is turning to the seafaring aesthetic in a free-spirited way, honoring the future of fashion and the look itself. Image credit: Kenzo

The fashion world is starting to turn towards the future, and with Nigö at the forefront, Kenzo is finding a way to infuse heritage into the innovative future. The practicality, timelessness and spirit of this campaign is a move toward the new fashion landscape.

Nautical attire is hitting the mainstream with a new force, but Kenzo's take continues to stand out as the brand brings diversity to a look that has historically been devoid of it.


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