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AiE: A confusing entry point

Often the most interesting menswear is quite confusing. What, precisely, is it? What’s it trying to say? And not least, when would you actually wear it?

Kenta Miyamoto, head of design at AiE, is well versed in the art of confusion. As you’d expect from a Nepenthes family brand, AiE collections nod to Needles here and Engineered Garments there, but the overriding sense is one of befuddling chaos. A jumble of ideas, pattern, print, shape and colour fighting to be seen. It shouldn’t work. Yet, when worn en masse, these erratic pieces add-up. The riddle suddenly makes sense.

So where does this leave the AiE beginner? You can’t very well drop on everything all at once. Unless you’ve got a bottomless purse, you’ll need a starter piece. Something that carries the AiE DNA, but is equally at home sitting with gear you’ve already got. Something like this.

Is this really a jacket? It’s called a jacket. But jackets don’t typically pop over the head and feature odd-ball shoulder fastenings. Is it a shirt? Or perhaps, that most nondescript of genres, a ‘top’? Does it have to even be a thing?

With mid-weight corduroy and zips up the sides, it’s a peculiarity all right. Add in that flowery trim and it wouldn’t look out of place in a medieval tapestry. Retailer Loftman maintain there’s a “western influence”. If you ask me, it looks more like something Richard the Lionheart might pull on before eating a grilled horse and ransacking Cyprus.

We’re not terribly well served by AiE in the UK. Which leaves pieces like this, in far away store like Loftman, as obscure objects of wonder, always just slightly out of reach. Even Nepenthes London don’t have any in stock. Which is confusing in itself.

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