NILE BROWN WRITES — Broad shoulders, billowy trousers and bold neon colors permeate AMBUSH’s recently released Spring/Summer 2020 lookbook. At first look, it may appear that the Tokyo based fashion label has recontextualized styling techniques popularized in the 80s, but head designers Verbal and Yoon Ahn take it a bit deeper.
The 80’s inspired designs have been placed into tomorrow’s world with technical embellishments. Extra-long hooded sweatshirts with what look like vivid, spray-painted colors fall beneath the knees. Button up blazers’ buttons also extend beneath the waist. Touches of utilitarian design— vests with zippers, and pockets galore, motorcycle bottoms with cargo pockets—pop up everywhere.
These new designs, presented in front of neon lights, drab concrete slabs or the shell of an old automobile, are actually new designs from the past with a Japanese techwear twist. Perhaps the most apparent take on this is the geta sandals, which are traditionally elevated Japanese wooden sandals originally from the Heian Period (794-1192). AMBUSH takes them to new heights, literally, with extremely thick colorful platforms and straps that resemble a black leather whip.
Combining cultures is a common theme for this deep and intelligent design house. “It’s all stems from a DIY [do-it-yourself] mentality,” according to South Korean born Yoon Ahn, who founded the brand with her partner and rapper Verbal in 2008, after they met at Boston University. The jewelry turned fashion brand redefined fashion in hip hop as Yoon Ahn dressed designer Verbal in high fashion while working on an early brand for Kanye West. Since then, the label has collaborated with Nike, last month releasing two new variations of Converse that were kicked out to the world by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. In an interview with Highsnobiety, Ahn says, “I think if you live in a culture then you have to participate in it, and there are so many rules within those scenes… because I’m an outsider, for me it doesn’t apply. So in a way, I’m free from all those things.”
Ahn may fancy herself an “outsider,” but she’s surely found her niche within a brave new world that fuses fashion and cultural trendsetting.