Something new - Issue 173 - Magazine | Monocle

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Denmark & South Korea

After Patrik Rolf opened roastery and coffee shop April in Copenhagen in 2020, it quickly became a city institution. Later, when he needed practical workwear for his team, he designed his own and introduced a fashion element to his business. It was a logical move for Rolf, who, having worked for a menswear boutique in Gothenburg, wanted a high-end retail experience to complement his coffee shop. “I see a lot of value in translating the respect for the farm-to-cup chain that we have in the coffee world to other kinds of manufacturing,” he says. 


Rolf manufactures his clothing in Seoul, where he opened his second concept shop in 2022. “South Korea has some of the world’s best producers of utility clothing,” he says. When it came to design, he drew inspiration from Japan’s workers’ aesthetic, which prizes function over looks. “The utility approach to clothing is all about durability and everyday use,” says Rolf. “It’s not something that you wear once. We create clothing that you can experience life in.”

A-Poc Able Issey Miyake

Experimentation has been central to the Issey Miyake brand ever since the late Japanese designer presented his first show in New York in 1971. It continues to inform his company, especially at sub-labels such as A-Poc Able, which he founded in 1998. Now led by Yoshiyuki Miyamae, A-Poc Able Issey Miyake is preparing for global expansion, with launches in New York, London and Paris in the works. 

Based in Issey Miyake’s building in Tokyo, Miyamae’s 17-strong team works on new textiles and collaborations with creatives from a range of disciplines. Designs begin as paper models, before they are transferred to screens. Computers are used to create a flat piece of fabric that can be worked into a three-dimensional shape using only the heat of steam: Miyamae demonstrates the process on a seemingly shapeless black T-shirt that is teased into complex folds and curves. 


Collaborators include artist Tadanori Yokoo and a start-up from Keio University whose new AI algorithm can design clothes with minimal fabric waste. “We wanted to understand what AI is capable of,” says Miyamae (pictured). “It brought fresh perspectives and suggested ideas that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.”

Miyamae has also joined forces with Fujifilm and the University of Tokyo to work on a metallic ink that can be printed on film and used for accessories. Another special project is a collaboration with photographer Sohei Nishino, whose diorama of London has been recreated in woven jacquard as a reversible coat; meanwhile, a New York diorama features on a pair of five-pocket trousers. These limited-edition pieces will be available in London from 26 April to mark the arrival of A-Poc Able at the Issey Miyake shop in Mayfair. Miyamae is always pushing fashion’s boundaries but he never forgets about creating desirable clothes. “Beauty is key,” he says.

Clare Waight Keller
Uniqlo: C, Japan


Clare Waight Keller is best known for her work as creative director of French luxury houses Chloé and Givenchy. In Paris, she made her mark with designs that fused romance with utility while driving commercial success. In 2020 she stepped back from high fashion only to take on a new challenge in 2022 in the form of Uniqlo: C, a partnership with the Japanese retail giant that has allowed her grounded approach to design to flourish. Here, she shares her vision for Uniqlo: C and her spring range. 

What was the appeal in partnering with Uniqlo?
Uniqlo has been in my life for about 12 years. I discovered it through its work with Jil Sander, who I really admire. This was an amazing opportunity for me to do something similar for the generation that has been following my career. It’s exciting to be able to do something on such a democratic scale. I wanted to bring to the collaboration the femininity of my work at Chloé and my understanding of couture from my time at Givenchy. These are skills that can be adapted to finishings, proportions and fits, even if the clothes are at different price points.

How did your approach to design change?
When you work at a high level of luxury, you’re looking at branding and thinking about a runway show every season, so it’s a slightly different vantage point. But in terms of researching fabrics, colours and silhouettes, the process is very much the same today. It just stays more grounded in reality, instead of being a runway fantasy. That has always been part of my language. 

Could you tell us about your new spring collection? 
I was mindful that the Uniqlo customer is global and crosses many different climates, so we focused on the idea of layering. I wanted to design a collection that can be worn all year and create a wardrobe that will not only help women look more chic but will also bring a sense of playfulness. That’s why, in the spring collection in particular, you’ll find pops of colour. They complement the neutral base and encourage you to have fun.

SS Daley


Liverpool fashion designer Steven Stockey-Daley began the year with a new investor and a runway show at Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. “Every corner of that city feels like an art gallery,” he says. “We wanted to bring some lightness with our clothes.” The new range pays homage to the tailoring traditions of both Italy and the UK. “The core designs were based around different states of formality and the feeling of seeing Italy the first time,” he adds. This translates into double-pleat trousers and corduroy suits, as well as elegant, waxed-cotton jackets and parkas (pictured).

Officine Générale


Parisian label Officine Générale is best known for its elegant tailoring but this year it has broadened its scope to the world of beauty with Smoky Olive, a line of fragrance-related products including candles, room scents and hand washes bringing heady aromas such as burnt wood and vetiver. For the label’s founder, Pierre Mahéo, and his wife, Nina Mahéo Haverkamp, scent has always offered comfort and everyday pleasure. The garden of their house in Spain and the seaside pines of Brittany, where Mahéo grew up, became their primary sources of inspiration, translated into a distinctive smoky smell with notes of ginger, rosemary and cedar. The products are all made in France, with candles created using soy and coconut oils, as well as olive-oil soaps crafted using traditional techniques from Marseille.

South Africa


When Mikael Hanan, co-founder of online fashion retailer Superbalist, launched menswear brand Fields in 2019, he was adamant that his team would work out of its flagship shop in Cape Town. “I enjoy being close to customers,” he says. “We’re trying to prove that we can do it all from here.” Fields also sources fabric and manufactures in the country. At its boutique, shoppers browse a collection of chinos, workwear jackets and cotton crewnecks. The brand mostly takes a classic approach to design but Hanan also ensures that he regularly introduces new colours and limited-edition items (including a collaboration with artist Andile Dylvane), so that his customers always have a reason to return.

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