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Kengo Kuma and Fendi: eco-friendly versions of bags

Italian fashion house Fendi and architect Kengo Kuma have presented a joint collection of accessories for the men’s spring-summer 2024 collection. As part of the collaboration, the famous Peekaboo bags, Baguette Soft Trunk, and Flow sneakers are rethought – for this, the classic used a natural Japanese palette of materials and technologies.

The collaboration embodies the brand’s desire to combine innovation and tradition, as well as the architect’s intention to integrate his tectonic concepts and traditional Japanese art into the fashion world. Radical versions of sneakers and bags are crafted from traditional washi paper, woven bamboo, birch bark, and Tuscan olive wood. The architectural influence in the collection is built on a reverence for ancient Japanese craftsmanship and raw natural materials.

Accessories from the spring-summer 2024 collection look like a miracle in design. They also demonstrate the artistic dialogue between Italy and Japan. Silvia Venturini Fendi, artistic director of Fendi, comments: “Kengo Kuma was one of the first to understand the importance of incorporating nature into architecture, both inside and out.” Kuma himself adds that nature and craft have always been at the center of his architectural and design work. “When Fendi asked me to reflect on their bags and shoes, I thought of them as small architectural projects on a human scale,” notes the architect.

Fendi accessories have been recreated using varanchi, a type of Japanese washi paper made from cotton fibers and tree bark, commonly used for origami, lanterns, and kimono trim. The structural design and exterior of the items are made up of dry, soft, and textured varanchi fabric, which gives the items an imperfect character.

Kengo Kuma’s single-handle version of Peekaboo resembles a fashionable toolbox, with a basket shape that references the use of earthy materials. Its Baguette variation features sharper edges and a lighter shade with wood shavings. Wavy lines and soft curves are characteristic of his sneaker collection. Their appearance is accentuated by 3D-printed threads around the bottom of the shoe. These sinewy “branches” are reminiscent of some of the façades and elements of his architecture, like his sculpture tower in Vancouver or the archaeological park in Albania.

The fashion show took place at the Fendi factory in the countryside of Capanuccia in Tuscany. The podium was installed right in the center of the production workshop of the fashion house. And while the models were walking, the masters continued their work. This state-of-the-art factory is expected to produce 35 to 40 percent of Fendi’s leather products.

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