Chris Gibbs’ UNION Los Angeles and J. Crew, led by menswear director Brendon Babenzien, have joined forces on a capsule collection of streetwear-fueled academic wares. The two designers are longtime friends, having first met in 1996 when Gibbs began working part-time at Supreme under Babenzien’s creative tenure, and this collaboration offers a much-anticipated concoction of their evolved design codes today.
“It just made sense,” Babenzien told Hypebeast. “Chris is one of my oldest friends and also one of the people I call when I need advice. He’s as genuine as they come and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him. A true individual.”
The collection shakes up a top-shelf cocktail of J. Crew’s classic Americana ethos and UNION’s archetypal streetwear. Offering J. Crew signatures a new lease on life, the joint offering sees Gibbs transform the heritage brand’s timeless silhouettes with a countercultural approach. Here, the West Coast’s relaxed uniform meets the East Coast’s collegiate style in what can be described as an ideal fusion of streetwear and prep.
“I didn’t want to put graphics on everything. That’s never been my big thing,” said Gibbs of his influence on the line. “I decided instead to play with proportions, drape and color through the lens of streetwear and high fashion.”
Gibbs and Babenzien put forth a knit program, paying homage to J. Crew’s prowess in the genre with new asymmetrical shapes made with distressed alpaca and fleece textiles. Plaid fabrics drop their buttoned-up personas for something more playful, while a number graphic T-shirts and sweatsuits adopt a collaborative logo motif in signature streetwear form. The collection’s hero, however, is its Herring Bone Twill fabric, which is made to look like denim in a nod to workwear’s impact on the designers. The material, which Gibbs said he discovered while vintage shopping in Japan, forms the line’s Chore Coat and Pant set, as well as a cap.
“I am really proud of what we built. It’s subtle by nature, but we tried to make something that could live organically in both J.Crew doors and UNION doors. I think we did that,” said Gibbs.
The UNION Los Angeles x J. Crew collection is now available to shop at UNION LA, UNION TOKYO, UNION OSAKA, J. Crew Bowery and online at both J. Crew and UNION Los Angeles’ webstores. Take a closer look at the range in the gallery above.
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