Adorned with the vivid landscapes and beloved characters from My Neighbor Totoro, the limited-edition collection of bags, t-shirts, and jackets proves that Hayao Miyazaki’s ability to evoke emotion has lost none of its power.
For more than three decades, the uplifting animated films of Studio Ghibli have transported viewers to a magically vivid universe inhabited by Hayao Miyazaki’s deeply introspective characters. One of the legendary director’s most recognizable creations is the titular spirit from My Neighbor Totoro, the giant rabbit who befriends two young sisters as they escape the grim reality of their hospitalized mother. In a lush Japanese countryside, they meet other friendly wood spirits such as a giant bus-shaped cat and the dust-like susuwatari. Not only is My Neighbor Totoro one of Miyazaki’s greatest achievements, but the award-winning film offers pure nostalgia and escapism for children and adults alike—an ideal salve for today’s soul-crushing news cycle.
Now, Studio Ghibli fans will have a chance to wear their favorite characters on an array of Loewe leather accessories, bags, t-shirts, hoodies, and jumpers. The Spanish fashion house joined forces with Miyazaki to launch a Totoro-inspired capsule collection creatively adorned with the fantastical landscapes and beloved characters from the Studio Ghibli universe. “There’s a natural longing for heartwarming feelings right now,” Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, said in a statement. “When I think of a movie that affords me that kind of solace, speaking just as directly to a child as it does to an adult, that movie is My Neighbor Totoro. Anyone who has seen [it] cannot possibly forget it.”
It’ll be difficult to forget this capsule, too. The Loewe x My Neighbor Totoro collection translates Studio Ghibli characters and the fantasy landscapes they inhabit into allover prints, jacquard intarsia, hand-painted motifs, and pompoms. Forging feelings of fluidity and comfort, the shapes are loose and relaxed across the array of hooded sweatshirts, culottes, and biker jackets. Totoro characters feature in leather marquetry on the surface of recognizable Loewe bags such as the Puzzle, the Balloon, and the Hammock, as well as on small leather accessories like pouches, cases, and wallets. A meticulous tapestry technique, meanwhile, features prominently on tote bags.
Anderson further describes My Neighbor Totoro as embodying craft in the form of an animated film. “The connection between Loewe and Studio Ghibli is this mutual love of craft and artisanal techniques, expressed in our respective languages” he continues. “The connection between Loewe and My Neighbor Totoro, on the other hand, is the mutual connection with nature, the world outdoors, and a sense of perpetual invention. The importance of nature to humankind is on everybody’s mind in these difficult times. Finding ways to live in harmony with the environment is a shared quest. The movie is an ode to preserving such harmony, discovered in the most magical of ways.”
The collection also taps into our current need for comfort and uplift during an increasingly dire political moment. Miyazaki’s fantastical universe resonates equally with children and adults, which I’ve found particularly endearing in times of deep division and upheaval. I remember being utterly transfixed by the magically detailed universe that Miyazaki created in Spirited Away, the first Studio Ghibli film I ever watched, at age 10. When I learned that HBO Max would start streaming the studio’s entire catalog, I immediately subscribed and dove in. (We were well into quarantine, so there was extra time to rewatch the classics). Despite being in my late 20s with much more life experience behind me, the wisdom and empathy that Miyazaki packed into his greatest films have lost none of their power. The lessons of empowerment and pacifism that run throughout his catalog transcend time, leaving even the most jaded viewers more appreciative of the world around them.
“The message is one of dreamy serenity and hands-on creativity,” says Anderson, “of being at one with nature and with one’s own inner child—which is especially important right now and, I think, always will be.”
Besides the capsule collection, Studio Ghibli fans have much to anticipate in the near future. Along with HBO Max streaming the studio’s entire catalog, construction is underway at a dedicated Studio Ghibli theme park in Japan that’s expected to open in 2022. The Ghibli Museum Mitaka, meanwhile, is releasing a new art book that highlights more than 900 of Miyazaki’s sketches, drawings, and image boards created during the 21st century. The studio also recently joined Twitter, sharing a brand-new coronavirus character to ring in the new year.