Pillings Tokyo Fall 2024 Collection


It’s been a year since we last saw Pillings at Tokyo Fashion Week. This afternoon, in a show that ran two days after the official Tokyo fall 2024 schedule ended, we gathered in the wooden lecture hall of the Jiyu Gakuen Girls’ School to see what designer Ryota Murakami has been working on.

We started with a trio of bright blue knits before moving onto cream cable knit sweaters and cardigans, some embedded with little stone angels (a close-up view revealed that the angels were holding little knitting needles, to give the impression that they had sewn the sweaters themselves). So far, so charmingly Pillings.

But then what was this? Louchely tailored trousers? White tuxedo shirts? Wax leather coats? Pillings is mostly known for its purposefully higgledy-piggledy knitwear, but this time Murakami demonstrated that he had plenty of other tricks up his sleeve. The trousers had deep pockets that plunged forwards towards the crotch (chicer than it sounds), oversized woolly suits crumpled richly around the body, and those aforementioned shirts had collars that looked like paper pinwheels. Knitting remained the focal point of the collection and the standouts were the textured knitted dresses, which appeared to float on the body like clouds of gossamer.

Behind Pillings’s upgrade is a new partnership with The Sazaby League, a Japanese retail company with considerable resources and a network that includes Ron Herman Japan. As well as financial support and office space, they are providing Murakami with PR and merchandising staff, and intend to train knitters to help Murakami’s business realize its full potential. Best of all, they’re leaving his vision for the brand untouched. “They haven’t told me a single word about what to design. I have been given free rein to do everything,” Murakami said. “In the past I had to limit the number of samples I could make due to budget issues. This time, I have been able to create pieces that I had given up on making before.” How rare it is to see such trust in creativity from those holding the purse strings these days, and what a lesson for the wider industry.

Despite his newfound stability, Murakami’s core message for Pillings remains unchanged. “It’s for people who don’t fit in well with the rest of society, or who feel as though they’re a bit of an outcast,” he said. His previous collection—which referenced sweater-devouring moths as misunderstood rejects—conveyed vulnerability and withdrawal from society; this new one felt like an emancipation. “When I look back at that collection about moths, I feel like I was creating an escape for my mind,” Murakami said. “But this time, rather than running away, I felt like I was taking a step forward.”

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Tags: Pillings, runway, runway_review, Tokyo Fall 2024

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