A puffer jacket exhibition in Tokyo gets down with waste
Rikako Nagashima transformed waste into a resource to celebrate one of fashion’s most divisive cult items: the puffer jacket. Love it or hate it, the exhibition in Descente Blanc’s Tokyo store paid tribute to 10 years of its Mizusawa Allterrain Down Jacket, highlighting the designer’s environmental mindset and the brand’s innovative contribution to the global puffer jacket scene.
The designer’s decision to use offcuts seems a natural choice for the display, especially when the exhibition had a one-day-only lifespan. In fact, the design uses absolutely nothing new, working only with the existing shop fixings, production processes and offcut materials. Two types of offcut fabrics were upcycled throughout the Tokyo store, while shorter rectangles were welded into long strips and hung from the moveable clothing racks and longer strips of laser-pattern-cutting waste were stuffed into gridded-steel blocks throughout the store. Both the moveable, piped clothing rack system and the steel plinths were existing by-products of the 2015 store design by Schemata Architects.
‘By using these existing systems as part of our rule for the design, we can create a situation that feels inevitable, because the existing materials and fixtures are limited,’ explained Nagashima. The display perfectly matched the existing landscape, because the store was built to display the same materials. This meant that the exhibition naturally became an ode to the jacket’s manufacturing process – highlighted further by the presence of an accompanying soundtrack of factory sounds, from cut to press to pack.
This is all fitting, since Descente Blanc as a label has operated on an overwhelming desire to take a problem and solve it through functional fashion fabrication. Although many other products in the brand’s inventory have sought sport-performance goals, the Mizusawa Allterrain Down Jacket is no exception to the same innovative thinking. After witnessing the major flaws of traditional down jacket designs – mostly feather loss and water damage – a new production method was conceived to replace traditional quilted stitching: thermo-compression bonding. This technology resulted in a much greater product lifespan, and also provided Nagashima with the method used to join the shorter offcut pieces into longer strips.
Adding an environmental consideration adds significance to [other companies’] work and ours
Eyes are on the fashion design world for transparency in ethics and value of sustainability. Using waste materials is one way to counteract the effects of the processes and also to gain awareness. Nagashima believes ‘adding an environmental consideration adds significance to [other companies’] work and ours,’ and actively pursues work with those already cognizant of social good practices. The aptly titled 10-Years of Mizusawa Allterrain Down Jacket exhibition is also the first of many upcoming projects where Nagashima uses waste materials as a foundation to the design.