Music Inspires UNDERCOVER’s Fall/Winter 2023 Collection

British band The Specials inspires Jun Takahashi’s collection, an homage to embracing life

Set to a playlist of curated songs from British ska band The Specials, designer Jun Takahashi’s latest collection seeks to convey the sense of blithe effervescence often regulated only to the young, before life presents us with uphill mountains to cross. In an ode to the joy of positivity, Takahashi pays tribute to the late lead vocalists of the band, Terry Hall and Manuel Göttsching, who created the music most meaningful to his life. Both the artists passed as he was deciding the themes of this collection. “I don’t know what that means,” he wrote, “but I wanted this collection to pay homage to these incredible two artists.”

This point of inspiration is first seen in the selection of monochromatic suits, symbolic of the band’s iconic style. The two-tone, three-button suits reference the rude boy style of the 1960s and 1970s, including tapered pants and skinny ties. While the crisp suits are classic in their own right, they are re-imagined in nearly iridescent shades of ruby, emerald, and copper, some styles featuring embroidered designs of elegant hands with long red nails. To round out the homage, the back of the suit jackets reveal masterful attention to detailing, with different versions of the band’s song lyrics embroidered. As one reads, “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think, enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink. The years go by, as quickly as you wink. Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” 

The graphic image of ska, black and white checkers, are also constant motifs in this collection, making appearances in outerwear, suit jackets and tops. Billowing, puffer-inspired eggplant-colored outerwear is also present, as are bright red and neutral beige leopard printed coats – and what appear to be a pair of bejeweled jeggings.  Thigh-high patent leather boots in shades of yellow and teal, platform loafers and pointed-toe stilettos finish off each look, complete with their own bejeweled embroidery. What steals the show, however, is a trench coat drawn upon as if it were the cover of a schoolgirl’s notebook –  colorful doodles and phrases are embroidered across the entirety of the jacket. A similar coordinating design (even down to the shoes) in black follows this, making them two of the most memorable looks more an already unforgettable collection. 

With all of these elements, Takahashi creates a collection that doesn’t take itself too seriously – exactly as he intended. It is fun, joyful and full of life, a meaningful homage to a childhood favorite yet also a reminder to embrace life every day. 

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