The perfect parka – the AW10 Totem. Never to be replicated again, not by vis nor any other brand, this work of experimental craftsmanship remains a hallmark of outerwear ingenuity.
No piece better represents the spirit of that truly exemplary season, Fall 2010. By extension of this fact one couldn’t be blamed for judging this piece to be the single best release in the history of the brand. No subsequent outerwear releases, Totem’s or otherwise, have matched the almost unusual singularity of the AW10 Totem.
Delayed by three months due to production challenges this piece proved to be a labor of love for Nakamura and his team. Based on a basic 4-pocket mountain parka it’s design by nature is unassuming but their approach was quite the opposite. The goal was to create a fabric with a ‘warm vintage aesthetic’ while maintaining the technical properties of a functional outdoor parka.
Nakamura: I thought that I could use a combination of synthetic paraffin treatment techniques with modern day breathable waterproof fabrics and state of the art digital printing to make something similar to a vintage fabric that has an authentic feeling to it. This also ended up becoming a starting point for this season’s collection.
Aiding in this endeavor was Komatsu Seiren, a Japanese textile producer, who produces over 200 million square meters of fabric annually. Originally a silk dying operation they later turned to producing artificial fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, while maintaining the same dying process from which they started.
The first step was to create a check patterned lining. This challenging process began with applying a digitally printed check pattern to a thin layer of nylon. The parka’s snow-skirt, pictured below, is the result. This same nylon was also used for the lining of the Adventura Down Parka from the same season. The next step involved taking the printed nylon and laminating it with a waterproof film, a film produced by Komatsu Seiren.
Komatsu Seiren Rep: We wondered how to laminate a fabric that was this thin and could tear so easily on top of the fact that it also wrinkled. In addition we were asked to make sure that the check pattern would line up neatly. It was a near impossible challenge from the perspective of our common practice. When we would clear each hurdle there was a higher hurdle awaiting us at the next step.
The parka’s outer layer consists of a Polyurethane and Cotton blend (80/20) treated with a synthetic paraffin wax. The approach is reminiscent of waterproof parkas before the advent of Gore-Tex. The dye is sensitive and relatively unstable possessing a character akin to natural dye, in a way acting as a precursor to Nakamura’s later work with the aforementioned process.