Text: Jillian Billard
Back in 2016, we were elated to hear that the esteemed pattern-making company Oomaru Seisakusho 2 Inc.––known for partnering with internationally renowned labels to create cutting-edge designs with the utmost craft and care––had founded their own outerwear line, OVERCOAT. This month we revisited the workshop of founder and designer Ryuhei Oomaru to check out the latest from the exciting new line.
In case you missed it, OVERCOAT’s inaugural collection was an array of sculptural garments inspired by the theme “wearing New York, with each piece constructed from the same material as New York’s ubiquitous storefront awnings. Perhaps the most exciting element of the line was the lookbook, which featured a beautifully diverse array of models ranging in age, race, and size, photographed on a windy shore. The accompanying design sketches too were non-traditional and works of art in their own right––collaged from found materials depicting elements of New York City life.
Merging tradition with innovative design is at the core of Oomaru’s practice, and with his latest collections he continues to make elevated pieces inspired by everyday objects and experiences. A graduate of Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, Oomaru’s designs are a synthesis of expertly crafted patterning and carefully selected fabrics. OVERCOAT’s unique designs, general manager Sayuri Sarah Nagasawa tells me, are informed by the premise that the design of a garment is generated by its underlying structure, as opposed to lavish embellishment. Still incorporating the sculptural sensibility of his debut line, Oomaru has expounded upon his design techniques to create pieces for everyday wear in his SS18 and FW18 collections.
The pieces are deceptively simple––appearing as an array of classic trench coats and dolman-sleeved bombers––that is, until you put one on. Designed to be both unisex and unisize, the garments are crafted to fit each wearer’s unique frame. Nagasawa demonstrates this by inviting me to try on each garment, and explaining how rather than employing a traditional seaming technique along the shoulderline, Oomaru has folded the fabric so that it drapes over the wearer’s shoulder. She explains that rather than leading by emotion, Oomaru approaches his designs with a meticulous sensibility much like that of a scientist or mathematician. However, Oomaru also has an innate sense of playfulness that shines through––with lookbooks made from collaged photographs sourced from thrift stores and sculptural paper pieces made from patterns along the walls.
Seeing the brand’s Canal Street design studio, it is immediately apparent that OVERCOAT is a passion project. It is incredibly refreshing to see Oomaru’s care and devotion to his craft, and speaking with Nagasawa, I am overcome with an immense sense of hope for the fashion industry. So while you may not have heard of OVERCOAT yet, (the brand is based in New York, but they are still largely under the radar, mostly receiving acclaim in Japan), they are certainly one to keep on your radar.
The OVERCOAT pop-up is open at 167-169 Canal Street #200 in Chinatown until Friday, September 28.