The classic white button-down shirt is the fashion world’s equivalent of a blank white canvas. It exists almost entirely as the background against which other objects–a necklace, a tie, a pocket square, a sweater–are juxtaposed. That got Nendo thinking. The famed Japanese design house has just unveiled two separate collections of shirts that turn our ideas about the button-down on their heads.
The men’s collection is called Fuse, and the idea is this: what if you took the accessories that usually exist around men’s shirts and integrated them into the shirts, instead? One shirt has a matching tie integrated; another has a collar that is designed to look as if it is peeking out of an invisible sweater. Another has a bottomless breast pocket, perfect for holstering your glasses. My favorite shirts from the Fuse collection, though, fuse office accessories into the cuffs: for example, a shirt with ruler markings or graph paper grid lines extending up the sleeve from the wrist.
The women’s collection is called Cuff Links. In the real world, women don’t have much opportunity to wear cuff links, but in Nendo’s line-up of shirts, traditional men’s cuff links are used to clasp and hold together more feminine shirts in intriguing ways: for example, cuff links as buttons running up the side, or running down the collar to the shoulder. The idea of fastening a shirt with cuff links may seem simple, but it changes the profile of what we think of as a woman’s dress shirt in some radical ways.