New York is about to welcome a large exhibition on fashion history next week. But if you’re looking for something more subtle than “Camp,” Nordstrom’s latest pop-up is basically an exhibition in and of itself.
Nordstrom Men’s store in New York has had a series of what they call New Concepts — an in-store pop-up that highlights a theme or collaboration. The last one focused on Dior and included large neon bees hanging from the ceiling. The new iteration, Concept 003, is a shop-able retrospective of the archives of Helmut Lang and Raf Simons. Nordstrom brought in Japanese publishing house printings.jp to help curate.
Nordstrom’s VP of Men’s Fashion, Sam Lobban, bonded with a key player at printings.jp over a love of archive Raf (who, until recently, was the designer at Calvin Klein). In addition to the archive, Concept 003 includes two books by printings.jp on Simons and Lang. Even without the peg, it would be appropriate for Nordstrom Men’s store to highlight Lang and Simons — if there were an online course called Menswear 101, there would be a class dedicated to each designer.
“The Raf Simons FW 2005 collection was the thing that got me into designer menswear in the first place,” Lobban said. “It was the first time I had seen a menswear designer that was aimed at subculture. Lang came first and Raf has quoted him as a reference in his stuff.
“Raf is about storytelling and his own childhood, and Lang’s work is more literal inspiration from specific ideas and nuances of menswear,” Lobban continued. “Raf Simons and Helmut Lang are two designers that get put on a pedestal for being seminal, key leading figures of menswear. But it’s hard to see the stuff and not be able to see it and touch it.”
Enter the pop-up. Technically, you can buy pieces on display (though it’s quite pricey). Special items include a pink David Bowie shirt by Raf Simons, and Helmut Lang’s riff on the bulletproof vest. A version of the pop-up is installed in Vancouver, New York, and Seattle. Menswear fans, this one’s for you.