TOGA VIRILIS: Paris Mens Fashion Week

  • Photography  Anna Miyoshi
  • Words  James Ross

Yasuko Furuta’s TOGA was first featured in PYLOT’s Autonomy Issue, released back in April 2018. With the launch of the brand’s menswear range for the first time in Europe, PYLOT has teamed up with TOGA to celebrate their launch and to learn more about their menswear history, their recent collaboration with PORTER, and elements of their new collection.

Furuta graduated from ESMOD (École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode), Paris, and in 1997 founded TOGA, later adding the TOGA VIRILIS menswear line in 2011. Originally only available in Japan, the brand’s menswear line is now being launched in Europe at Paris fashion week, where Furuta has typically chosen to show her womenswear lines, and where the TOGA story originally began.

The origins of the brand are important to note, as Furuta discussed in her previous interview with PYLOT, “I didn’t want to use a name that specifies an individual, such as my own.” This, she believes, allows the brand to express its individuality without restriction and avails it to a wide range of inspirations that are familiar to their eclectic and diverse collections. The name deriving from Latin also “makes the nationality of the brand more difficult to discern” and has helped to “foster an unbiased reception.”

The recurrent theme of the American West is evident throughout the TOGA VIRILIS SS20 collection, with the use of concho embellishments and buckles; however, this season steps back a few decades and displays a strong ‘50s influence. Furuta’s “love of vintage items” and the “made-to-order… half couture way of producing clothes” during that era resonates with her own history in the fashion industry, where she started by making one-off pieces and continues to do so through the TOGA PICTA range. The use of embroidery and other hand-made techniques throughout the collection harks directly to these inspirations and offers fine detail to a collection that remains true to Furuta’s design origins.

The addition of a complementary “preppy mix” of polo shirts, rugby shirts, and Teddy drizzler blouson jackets sit alongside a range of “new romantic colours” in the tailoring and outerwear. Bolder elements such as tie-dye and camouflage prints make for an eclectic, but peculiarly coherent, collection that feels uniquely appropriate for the type of customer Furuta designs for: a man whose sensibility unifies her vision, who is “complicated and has many different faces and sides to him.” Her clothes are suited to “a complex man who can only live in chaos”, which she indulges us in through the “hidden complexity and nuanced layers” of her creations.

As with previous recent collections, TOGA VIRILIS is collaborating with compatriot brand, PORTER, which was launch in 1962 by Yoshida & Co. Craftsmanship and creativity work in synergy in this collaboration where four bags have been produced that bring “functionality, durability and storability” typical of PORTER, with elements of the signature TOGA style.

Furuta certainly has a visionary outlook in her practice and her move to bring TOGA VIRILIS to Europe exemplifies this attitude. The combination of fun and frivolity with considered complexity and in the SS20 collection that is taking the brand on its journey, as Furuta notes, “toward a landscape I’ve never seen. Ideally, wherever I am, that place will indicate my next goal and destination.” Destination Paris has been reached, so we eagerly await the next moves for a brand that will surely remain a stalwart of the European scene.

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