Tokyo James Shows Spring/Summer 2023 Collection at Milan Fashion Week

Words by The Folklore Team

Iniye Tokyo James, the British-Nigerian behind the eponymous brand Tokyo James, started his label in 2015 to cater to the modern consumer who appreciates simplicity with a contemporary edge. In the time since, the stylist turned creative director has become known for tailored separates that reference streetwear style, tactile fabrics and a clear point of view.

Taking to the runway in Milan in September, the designer sent down 37 looks in a predominantly black color palette, in stark contrast to the collection’s title, “Church”. While a church is a place of worship for Christians to observe their religion, for Tokyo James it “symbolizes an ideology”, which the designer set out to explore with his new collection.

Subverting the connotations of purity, and the historical systems of patriarchy and inequality of women associated with church, the designer instead embraces the opposite with pieces that express freedom. In a tight, cohesive collection that displays a free-spirited sensuality and an aesthetic described by the designer as “who cares what they think?”, dark shades of black are punctuated with flashes of green and blue, and lots of skin.

The assortment in “Church” featured denim and leather-look separates, tailored blazers rendered in oversized silhouettes and corset-style skirts worn over tulle dresses. Fetish-inspired leather belts were worn in lieu of shirts as well as over them, while see-through dresses and plunging necklines were juxtaposed with long-line outerwear and relaxed pieces offering full coverage. Utilitarian details such as belt buckles, silver hardware and zippers were employed as both fastenings and decorative accents.

Highlights from the collection include a perforated black coat with Lurex green panels layered over a two-piece/jumpsuit, modelled by content creator Rickey Thompson as well as a glittering green suit with two front slits on the jacket.

The Milan presentation also saw the debut of a jewelry collection by Tokyo James. A collaboration with London-based independent jeweler Chuks Uzorh of UWR Jewellery, “Innate” is a six-piece collection that draws inspiration from both designers’ Nigerian heritage. Based on the African rove beetle, the earrings, pendant, neckpiece, ring and bangle feature the insect’s motif made from 18-karat gold and recycled silver, and adorned with sapphire, onyx and emerald stones.

“The beetle is special to me because it is such an underdog in the insect world. It’s the only creature in the world that can lift 50 times the weight of its own body,” says James. “Innate for me means strength within. A strength that we all possess and it’s also about equitability.”

Tokyo James SS23 “Church”

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