For Renan Pacson, inspiration can come from anything—everyday objects, emotions, and even moments. However, his most recent collection is anything but reminiscent of the banal and the mundane. In fact, it is teeming with a strong sense of identity, one that’s distinctly “Renan Pacson”—very urban and androgynous, but always rendered in a highly versatile and wearable way.
This collection’s humble conception began by chancing upon some paisley fabric, which he soon found to originate from Persia. Hence, the title Shatranj. “Shatranj is the Persian version where our modern chess game originated from, so each look kind of represents a different player from the game. I have the classic characters: the shah, ferz, rokh, and so on… I also added some characters like the butcher/murderer, the hoe, and the stranger.”
And just what kind of characters were represented in this collection? Based on the looks, the collection seems to suggest a spectrum of personalities within this army of streetwear stylephiles. There are the slightly minimalist ones who donned sleek, black, cocoon-shaped coats and anoraks with the navy blue boteh fabric (Persian for paisley) peeping underneath or worn as a vest, very much like armor. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the maximalist ones who embody the same rough-and-tumble spirit as their fellow members but chose to don boteh and color in more ways than one: Take the boteh dress, for example, wherein the denim on the skirt was haphazardly slapped onto the paisley fabric like a sartorially good mess. There’s also the blue samurai-like coat worn with denim shorts overlaid with the paisley print, almost like a warrior ready to take to the streets.
As easy breezy as it may sound, the design is clever because of how it reworked the boteh and denim into the outfit. The oversized sweatshirt enveloped the arms and tapered around the ends, giving it a slouchy shape. Plus, there was the paisley stitched on top of one shoulder like battle gear. The shorts were the interesting piece, which was basically rehashed scraps of boteh and denim—so cool! All this was matched with sleek black booties and a statement nose ring for good measure. (Fun fact: Renan Pacson wanted to incorporate a personal touch, so he “chopped” some of his favorite denim pieces from his childhood.)
What makes Shatranj stand out would not only be its intelligent remakings of the same elements throughout the collection, but the wearability and versatility of it all. The designer notes that his design philosophy merges the classic and the futuristic: “...in a way that pieces from my 2012 collection could still be worn to this day or could be paired with a piece from this latest collection. Every collection is a continuous story. I even like to re-issue some styles every season. A bit of street, but streets of Manila in 2050.”
To conclude, this collection greatly reflected the designer’s signature “wabi-sabi” aesthetic (a Japanese concept that embraces the beauty in imperfection) but did so in a way that’s palatable for those with a taste for street adventure, androgyny, and the avant garde.
See the full collection below: