After every visit to Daikanyama, I leave thinking it is the neighborhood I would most like to inhabit should I ever move to Tokyo. It is never really crowded, there’s an Eataly (which pre-dates and surpasses NYC’s consistently chaotic eye-talyon outpost), really delicious coffee, leafy streets and of course good shopping. It sort of reminds me of TriBeCa in a lot of ways. That’s to say it is probably very expensive to live there, which likely means I would not ever be able to call it home, but it’s fun to imagine. Anyway, back to the point at hand: the importance of quality menswear retail. Tokyo has it in spades, much more than any city anywhere in the world. Having been all over the place, I am comfortable saying this rather bold statement because it is undeniable. The consumer culture is borderline insane and that is what makes it so much fun to visit.
The intention is to visit the great NYC shop Extra more than once or twice a year. This shouldn’t be too difficult, considering the small store sits about 500 yards as the crow flies from my office, but I’m lucky if I can ever make it by. This Sunday I managed to do a bit better and stopped by Extra to chat with the shop’s owner / one man band Koji and see what was new.
In addition to all sorts of amazing vintage clothing, objects and art (much of which is priced NOT to sell because Koji doesn’t want to let it go), Extra carries a comprehensive selection of NYC-based Post Overalls. I ended up leaving with a black wool Chore coat from Post, a perfect jacket from fall. I also came away with some intrigue after browsing a few samples that Koji was selling off from Japanese brand Corona. I’ve seen a few things on blogs about Corona here and there, but I never realized that the line was designed by one of the Post Overalls guy who split off and moved back to Japan.
Since the beginning, Batten Sportswear has been a collection I have really bought into. Shinya Hasegawa, the man behind the clothes, has always inspired me with his dedication and commitment to go off on his own and put a stake in the ground. I’ve seen Batten grow from a one man operation with zero stores and the tiniest of offices on 37th Street to a slightly less tiny office with a production person, a showroom and dozens of stores in the matter of a few seasons. It’s been cool to see Batten develop and grow, it is especially great because every season I am impressed with the product. I like the fact that Batten refines and tweaks stuff I already love like 60/40 jackets, bags and anoraks. It isn’t trying to reinvent anything per se, Batten makes good things better by tweaking the fits and adding in little details that make the clothes special.
Just getting around to this, but it sort of is the perfect weekend for this type of thing. This past month the Japanese magazine Huge published an issue centered around all things American. The topic was approached in a uniquely Japanese way, which is to say it was comprehensive and something that seemed much closer in structure to a catalog than a magazine. Huge made in USA was very obviously based on the 1970s magazine Made in U.S.A. (pictured below), which was a watershed moment for many American brands in Japan. The copy below (Made in U.S.A-2) was a gift from a colleague in Tokyo who I work with on Red Wing. According to him, this magazine (which currently fetch about $250 per issue) is what really put the Red Wing Shoe Company on the map in Japan. Made in U.S.A.-2 is for me a prized possession and a constant source of inspiration.
Huge covers a lot of familiar ground by including folks like Wood&Faulk, Dehen, Stanley & Sons, Archival Clothing and a host of other American manufacturers. There are also some surprises and new finds along the way. If you live anywhere near a Kinokuniya you can still get your very own copy of Huge (June). If you are looking for a copy of Made in U.S.A.-2 best to search on Yahoo Japan auctions and hope the seller ships to the good old USA.
A Japanese-designed, Italian-styled collection that is heavily appreciated on an American blog —Camoshita could potentially make the world explode, or at least the Internets. After a meeting in midtown the other day, I popped into Barneys to survey the new goods that had recently arrived. Low and behold, right there on the main men’s floor, was the Camoshita collection. It reminded me of these images from Pitti that have clearly been neglected for too long. Though, all is not lost because these clothes still have a few more months before they hit stores.
The Camoshita collection is designed and produced under the United Arrows umbrella by Yasuto Kamoshita (the UA creative director) in Japan, and the line beautifully represents the double-barreled Japanese commitments to craftsmanship and Italian tailoring.
The fall catalog from Beauty & Youth United Arrows showed up at my office a little while back and I am starting to suspect that it was sent just to taunt me. The Japanese shop is one that I always make a point to visit while in Tokyo. This season the guys at Beauty & Youth went crazy making up some awesome Harris Tweed clothing and accessories — which were far and away my favorite items on offer.
In addition to the private label, Beauty & Youth are also stocking some great footwear like the corduroy Vans and the limited distribution Irish Setter boots from Red Wing that are pictured below. It’s a solid offering of updated classics that has me contemplating a trip to Tokyo, or at least an email to my proxy.
While there were quite a few Japanese buyers at Pitti Uomo, there weren’t many labels selling their own wares. One notable exception was Nanamica, who had its second collection of private label goods on offer to buyers. The line was not one to miss — it was full of amazing fabrics, great detailing and the always fun “classics with a twist” that we have all grown to love from the Japanese.
If you aren’t familiar with the company, Nanmica is a distributor in Japan (The North Face Purple Label, Filson, etc.) and also has several of its own stores which sell the labels it distributes plus outside collections from all sorts of good designers. To me, Nanmica is one of the best shops in Japan. I always make a point to stop in and often end up leaving with a something that You can’t find in The States. The good news is, that won’t be the case with the private label collection pictured here.