My trip to Japan wasn’t really a sightseeing holiday, I was actually sent to Tokyo on a covert American rescue mission. I went in search of American goods that wanted to be returned to their rightful home, back to the motherland. The greatest find was a vintage red Woolrich hunting jacket that was “saved” from Free & Easy’s Rugged Museum. The Rugged Museum store by the way, is excellent. In addition to stocking some awesome brands Post O’ Alls, 68 & Brothers, Mister Freedom, Buzz Rickson, etc., the shop had an AMAZING selection of vintage goods. Chore coats, flannel shirts, vintage chambray. My head was spinning. In the end settled on this vintage Woolrich jacket that fit like a glove and was a bargain at ¥13,780 or $152.71.
At this point, America produces 100 million pairs of shoes a year. That sounds like a big number, but when you consider the 1.1+ billion pairs of shoes purchased in the United States every year, it’s minuscule. An ACL reader (many thanks Derek) recently sent me a link to The Boot Pro. The online retailer (and Defense Department supplier) sells 112 different styles of American made boots by the Wisconsin based Weinbrenner under their various brands. Naturally, there are plenty of fugly designs offered, but there are some real winners too. Not to mention the prices are great. Worth a look if you are in the market to be that one percent.
It seems that it is easier to find cool American stuff in Japan than in the U.S. Nanamica — one of my favorite stores in Tokyo — only seemed to reinforce that belief. The company holds the Japanese license for Filson, Champion, The North Face and other American brands. Nanamica also designs and produces the Japan-only The North Face Purple Label collection. You can’t physically pick up the any of the Purple Label goods in a store without 1. falling in love and 2. having the salesperson point out that the range is only for the Japanese market. I always wanted to politely respond to the sales associates that I could tell that collection was specifically designed for Japan because it wasn’t fucking ugly like in America.
I picked up this trench by The North Face. Perfect for the rainy chilly weather in New York.
One of my missions in Japan was to check of the Asian capital’s popular bicycle scene. The city is very bicycle friendly compared, obviously, to most cities in the U.S. What was most interesting to me is the fact that while people in Tokyo lock up their bikes (most of the time), the locks are pretty simple. Not like the insane measures NYers have to go through. As I wandered the expansive metropolis, I would see all types of people riding bicycles — many in their work clothes, women frequently in heels and lots of track bikes.
One of the coolest things I saw last week in Japan was a grosgrain book strap at the Beams x Yoshida shop in Daikanyama. The Porter collection is insanely huge and very well done. I consider the brand one of the best in the business. I picked up a tote / backpack hybrid bag in black ballistic nylon at Tokyu Hands for about $145. A steal for the quality and especially good when you factor in that the bag is not available in NYC.
One would think that as a New Yorker I should be used to walking. This morning I awoke to the scream of my blistered feet, begging for mercy. Yesterday was another trip into the seemingly never ending Tokyo shopping labyrinth. I took things slower, explored more carefully and found some of the previously elusive spots. The streets are mostly unmarked, and initially, fairly difficult to navigate to a new comer. The highlight of the day was the breathtaking Zaha Hadid designed Neil Barrett store. I have been a huge fan of Mr. Barrett for sometime, ever since I found my favorite sweater coat years ago. My other favorite was the Beams+ hunting lodge / store in Shibuya. Can they open a store in New York? I would shop there everyday.
Beams+ in Shibuya